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| by Shaimaa Sameh

This Is My Personal Experience with Binge Eating Disorder

There is not enough awareness on Eating disorders, which can leave many suffering for years and everyone around them unaware of what they're dealing with. So today I wanted to highlight what eating disorders are and some of the most common eating disorders, which are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge eating disorder.

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I've had a personal experience with binge eating disorder, and it was not easy. We don't know much about eating disorders, so it took me some time to figure out what I'm going through and treat it. Especially since eating disorders are psychological disorders. 

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My divorce experience was behind my eating disorder

I'll start from the beginning...I went through a divorce, which of course was not a good experience, although the divorce was what I wanted. Even now, after more than ten years, I still see it as the right decision that I had to take. And although I always seem strong to everyone, I was in fact struggling.

My life suddenly fell apart, even if I was the one who took the decision, starting over with new burdens and responsibilities, and raising a child alone with her mental and financial responsibility is not easy, for I was not myself after four years of marriage. Many things changed, and my responsibilities also changed. No....I do not regret my decision. It was the best thing for me, him, and our daughter.

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The post-divorce phase began with new acquaintances in a new field. I loved my work very much, and the work environment around me embraced me. I did not feel alienated, on the contrary, we were a large family at work. On the personal side, my family supported me a lot and stood by my side to get through this stage.

Everything was going normally as a divorced woman going through legal problems, but everyone's support, my development at work and my daughter growing up in a stable healthy environment, were my priorities. I was overwhelmed with a lot of responsibilities, working in the morning, and then later in the day focusing on my daughter and her first steps towards going to school. I didn't feel anything abnormal in my day. In the mornings, I ate normally, like a completely normal person.

But the turning point was always at night. When things get quite after my daughter goes to sleep, everything changes inside of me. What I try to ignore all day, from all the thoughts to the stress that no one else sees, starts rushing in.

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The beginning of an eating disorder

All my thoughts usually revolved around feeling like my life fell apart and that I didn't deserve everything that's happened to me. I felt a loss of control of my life. This is where food comes in. Eat anything and everything. I didn't have favorites, I just ate quickly and I didn't like to be seen eating. I ate really fast to the point where I sometimes hurt my throat and couldn't sleep because of what I ate. I do not get full, I eat until I feel uncomfortable.

Eating comforted me, emotionally. During the day I was a completely normal person with my relationship with food, but it was the evening where things were different. I stared gaining weight, so I went on a diet, and my weight went down a little, but I was in a vicious circle, my weight kept fluctuating in a system called a 'yo-yo diet'.

How did you know I had an eating disorder?

Those who know me know that I read a lot, and is very knowledgeable and informed. I am not afraid of problems. However, I always face them, and try to solve them, but I did not even realize that I had a problem, until after several repeated nights of not being to sleep after eating a lot and feeling suffocated. I began to realize that what I am doing is not normal and I asked myself "Am I sick?"

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After some research, I found out that I'm suffering from binge eating disorder. I eat during a certain time of the day a large amount of food, feel guilty, but cannot stop doing this repeatedly and regularly in a way that is out of my control. I began to feel that I'm really addicted to this habit. I'm not really hungry, I don't crave a particular type of food, I eat everything I find and I eat fast. I was depressed and on a diet loop, not losing any weight. My binge eating actually increased with the start of any diet, I was always depressed and anxious.

It was a long journey with the treatment, and I still haven't lost the weight I gained during my eating disorder. But now, I'm completely normal and I don't have that unhealthy relationship with food anymore. But my treatment called for drug intervention and awareness sessions to deal with bouts of binge eating, and learning how to overcome them. It took a lot of time to overcome these episodes, it is not easy, but it is possible. It is possible through the support of those around you to overcome this problem and by being aware that you are struggling and understanding how to overcome it.

So, today I also wanted to talk about some of the most common types of eating disorders. If you notice you're having any of these symptoms or you're seeing them with a loved one, try to seek help or show support whoever's struggling around you. And remember, it's not 'gluttony', it's a disorder, it's emotional and it needs attention and help.

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1. Anorexia Nervosa

It is the most well-known eating disorder. It generally develops during adolescence and tends to affect women more than men. People with anorexia nervosa consider themselves overweight, even though they're in fact severely and dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely reduce their calories. 

Common symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:

1. Significantly low weight.

2. Intense fear of gaining weight despite being underweight.

3. Constant pursuit of being thin and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight.

4. Self-esteem significantly affected by the body's weight or perceived body shape.

5. Distorted body image, including denial of being seriously underweight.

6. Signs of malnutrition become apparent, like fatigue, nausea, dry skin, low blood pressure, fine hair growth on the body, hair loss, feeling cold, swelling in the hands and feet due to circulatory problems, and irregularity with menstrual cycle.

7. 90% of those suffering from anorexia nervosa are women.

8. Teenagers are also at risk of developing anorexia, as well as those who've been exposed to difficult life conditions, and severe psychological stress.

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The earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it can be treated. It could need the intervention of a psychiatrist and nutritionist here to keep the patient at a healthy weight, and there might be no need for drug treatment here as long as the patient does not suffer from anxiety or depression. I've seen someone with anorexia who completely refused to eat and relied on carrots and cucumbers as her daily meals. She used to be overweight and lost about 60 kg. After reaching an average weight, she was not happy with it, and continued to lose weight, because of the pressures she was exposed to at the university. Her weight gain had affected her emotionally, which led her to always see herself as overweight.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

This is another serious eating disorder that can threaten the patient's life, where they eat a lot of food with no sense of control over their eating, and then usually vomit to get rid of the calories they gained while eating. Instead of vomiting, the patient may abuse laxatives, nutritional supplements, or exercise excessively, to get rid of the calories they as gained. These bouts of eating are usually in secret to relieve the effects of psychological stress.

Common symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

1. Fluctuations and instability in body weight.

2. Loss of tooth enamel as a result of repeated vomiting.

3. Constipation.

4. Swelling of the salivary glands.

5. Heart rate disturbance due to vomiting and low potassium level in the blood.

6. Ruptures in the esophagus, and cracks in the intestine.

7. Lack of energy, and a general feeling of fatigue.

8. Evidence of large amounts of food consumption and storage, despite not seeing the person eating.

The patient here needs psychological, behavioral and medical treatment.

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3. Binge Eating Disorder

Similarly to Bulimia Nervosa, people with a Binge Eating Disorder secretly overeat, not out of hunger and can only stop when they feeling full and uncomfortable. However, they do not try to get rid of the food they ate through vomiting or laxatives, and so on. So they may suffer from obesity, and trying to limit consumption may lead to more severe bouts of binge eating.

Common symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

1. Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time.

2. Eating really fast during an episode of binge eating.

3. Eating without feeling hungry.

4. Inability to stop eating until feeling full.

5. Feelings of depression, guilt and shame.

6. Repetitive diet without no loss of weight.

It might take medicals treatment, psychological and behavioral therapy to help with Binge Eating and learning how to deal with it.

All eating disorders, including these 3 need support and awareness in recognizing the problem and treating it so the person can overcome it.

Main Image Credits: Sofia Alejandra from Pexels


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Tags: Body health  Health  Mental health