Binge Eating

What is Binge Eating?

Binge eating is one of the three major eating disorders, along with anorexia and bulimia. People suffering from binge-eating disorder feel driven to rapidly eat large volumes of high-calorie foods in a short period of time, sometimes 8,000 or 10,000 calories (3 to 5 days' worth of calories for an average adult) in an hour or two. You may suffer from binge-eating disorder if you feel at least some sense of being out of control, or of anxiety during the binge, and a sensation of emotional numbness as a result of the bingeing.
Binge Eating The aftermath? Waves of guilt for having succumbed to the desire to binge, usually accompanied by a vow to never do so again, often followed before long by another binge, numbness, guilt, and another vow. The binge cycle after a time can destroy self-esteem and ruin health through tremendous weight gain. The problem is not one of willpower, but a complex interplay of psychological and emotional needs, physical changes, brain chemical-driven cravings, social conditioning, and addiction to the emotional numbness brought on by the binge. Although the disorder may require a period of psychological support (therapy with a knowledgeable counselor) to rehabilitate self-esteem and learn new coping skills, there are a number of important nutritional factors that can help curb the physical cravings the binge brings on. Let's take a look.

What helps Binge Eating?

• Concentrating on proper daily nutrition can be your best food ally in combating the desire to binge. Eat on a preset schedule, dividing your intake throughout the day, if possible. And don't skip meals. Recommendation: Carefully read the macronutrient discussion in Section we, page 23. You should follow the specific instructions there to construct for yourself a basic diet providing plenty of high-quality lean protein to support your muscles (about 30% of your total day's calories); another 40% of calories each day should be from low-glycemic carbohydrate (about 40% of your day's calories) found in fibrous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, fruit, rice, and oats. Your diet should contain no refined sugar, corn syrup, honey, or other concentrated simple sugar sources or foods made from them, and you should also limit potatoes, wheat, corn, and foods made from their meals or flours (this means bread, rolls, pasta) because of their unfavorable effect on your blood sugar and your hunger. The last component of your diet comes from polyunsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and the oils from cold-water fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, flounder, sardines, and tuna; these should make up about 20% of your day's calorie total, with the final 10% coming from the saturated (animal) fat found in lean meats, poultry, dairy products, and eggs. Divide your day's calories into 4 parts, and try to schedule one-fourth of the total about every 4 to 5 hours while you are awake. Try to never let yourself go for long periods without eating, and plan what you will eat (the right choices), when you can stop to eat, and where you intend to eat. Take your food with you in an insulated lunch bag if needed.

• Binge EatingZinc is often deficient in people who binge. Taking zinc is especially important to battle this disorder because it increases the appetite and aids the sense of taste. Recommendation: Take 50 to 100 mg of zinc daily. Do not exceed this amount. To balance the zinc, take 3 mg of copper as well.

• Tryptophan, an animo acid protein building block, may help to curb desires to binge in some people. Your brain takes this amino acid and turns it into the brain chemical serotonin, which curbs the desire to eat carbohydrates (starches and sugars). Much research into this area has turned up evidence that a need for serotonin may be behind abnormal patterns of eating, such as binge-eating disorder. Recommendation: The FDA has ordered the removal of all supplemental tryptophan from the shelves following an outbreak of a severe muscular disorder called EMS, eosinphilia myalgia syndrome. This disorder was caused by a contaminant in the tryptophan supplements from a single manufacturer, but all tryptophan was recalled and has not yet been allowed back onto the shelves. In the event that the FDA finally decides to allow harmless supplemental tryptophan to be sold again, you may follow this regimen. Take tryptophan in a dose of 50 mg at bedtime. If it doesn't make you sleepy, we would encourage you to take half that dose twice or even 3 times a day. For safety's sake, however, 1 caution you not to use any old tryptophan you may have bought in the past.

What makes Binge Eating worse?

•  Sugars and concentrated starches, because they play havoc with the hormones of metabolism, can cause your blood sugar to swing wildly up and down. These substances make up foods that are typical "binge foods" for most people: candy, cookies, pastries, ice cream, and breads. Falling blood sugar levels stimulate your brain to release chemicals that drive the hunger center, sending out a "need to feed" signal, making you want to eat. (Emotional or physical stress causes the same phenomenon.) Recommendation: Work to eliminate the simple sugars (table sugar, honey, corn syrup) and foods made with these products and the concentrated starch sources (potato, corn, wheat) and foods made from these or their meals or flours from your daily diet.

 


 

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