Binge Eating Disorder

Patients diagnosed with Binge-Eating Disoder often come to hospital after many failed dietary attempts. As a result of the physical impairment caused by overweight and shame due to the body experienced as unshapely, they usually have a negative relationship to physical movement and this is largely restricted.

The aim of an inpatient measure is not to achieve a weight loss and improvement of physical mobility by strictly restricting calories, but rather by teaching a balanced eating behaviour. What is important here is a knowledge of a balanced diet, regular meals, and the development of fun in physical exercise.

Since the patients tend to have a restrained eating behaviour outside of ravenous hunger attacks, which is controlled by external signals (amount of food on the plate, eating environment), the patients should learn again to perceive appetite, hunger and feeling full and to get involved again with previously avoided food outside of a ravenous hunger attack and to enjoy physical exercise.

Another important focus is on the importance and function of eating disorders. Frequently, attacks of cravings do not occur out of the blue, but rather in situations in which the patients feel angry, lonely or sad, for example. The aim of therapy is to get to know these typical triggers and to work out other possible reactions.

The involvement of the family can also play an important role here. A patient who has worked in therapy on a better demarcation from the demands of her environment, which she cannot fulfil, and who confronts her family with these new behaviours after the treatment, can meet with great resistance.

It is helpful if family conversations can help the family to understand the problems and necessary changes of the patient and support possibilities can be worked out.

As already mentioned above, the change in how movement is handled is another important building block. Overweight patients often tend to alternate between over- and underexertion.

In the inpatient treatment, movement offers (e.g. early morning sports, swimming, ergometer training, therapy walks and body therapy) are provided in such a way that they correspond to the patient’s current performance and promote her step by step, so that no frustration but a natural pleasure in physical activity can arise again.

The aim is for the patients to have initiated a change in their eating habits at the end of in-patient treatment, to be familiar with critical situations, which were often associated with uncontrolled eating, and to have alternatives available.

It cannot be assumed that the patients will leave the clinic with their dream weight at the end of the treatment, as we want to prevent a renewed “yo-yo effect” by losing weight too quickly and having cravings again. However, the patients should have learned the prerequisites for reducing their weight in the long term by changing their diet.

A subsequent outpatient treatment helps the patients to further consolidate the new coping possibilities, so that they become more and more resistant to the typical triggers of cravings.

Binge eating disorder is one of the eating disorders. The term can be translated as “eating disorder”.

How does the binge eating disorder manifest itself?

The binge eating disorder leads to recurring attacks of cravings: During such attacks, the affected person completely loses control over their food intake. They can no longer stop eating, whether they are hungry or not.

Very quickly they swallow more or less large amounts of food, although they know that this is not good for them. They no longer have any influence on what and how much they eat. The amount of calories consumed can then be very large. But this is not always the case.

Often people feel guilty about their behaviour, disgusted with themselves. The eating fits usually take place in secret. Direct triggers can be negative feelings like fear, inner emptiness, grief or anger.

Unlike eating disorders such as bulimia or some forms of anorexia, sufferers do not vomit, take laxatives or do extreme sports to reduce their weight.

The attacks occur at least once a week for at least a quarter of a year.

Binge-Eating: Many suffer secretly

Dr. Lars W√∂ckel, head physician at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Cliena Private Clinic Littenheid in Switzerland, estimates that “one and a half to three and a half percent of the population are affected by the binge eating disorder, women somewhat more frequently than men”.

“For a long time, the binge eating disorder was not classified as an independent disease, which is why there are still few studies on the subject,” said the child and adolescent psychiatrist.

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