Breaking free from binge eating

RIYADH. KAZINFORM - Who has not at some time or other eaten too much? Yes, binge-eating is a problem which concerns many of us. The truth is: We feel bad and even guilty about this behavior and for that reason, we are often too ashamed to talk about it. Interestingly enough, the people who binge are not all overweight. On the contrary, they are obsessed with diets because they are extremely concerned with the shape of their body and their weight.

How can one really define binging? Binging is simply the act of eating excessively large amounts of food and feeling at the same time a loss of self-control, a total absence of will. Wanting to binge is like having a powerful craving for food as if one is literally driven to eat. As for bulimia nervosa, it is the combined interaction of a powerful urge to overeat, attempts to avoid the fattening effects of food by inducing vomiting or abusing laxatives, an uncontrollable fear of fatness and a self-evaluation based essentially on body shape and weight. "The food I eat usually consists of all "forbidden foods: chocolates, cake, cookies, jam, condensed milk, cereal...Food that doesn't need any preparation, I never eat these kinds of food normally because they are so fattening. But when I binge I can't get enough of them," says a patient suffering from binge-eating. 'Overcoming Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating' is an excellent book on the subject of binge-eating and has been printed several times since its first publication. It offers a clear explanation on the causes, and the effects of eating disorders. The author has also included the input of many patients suffering from binging and bulimia nervosa. Their testimonies bring to the book a poignant sense of truth. Certain factors definitely make a person more vulnerable to binge-eating and bulimia-nervosa. First, eating-disorders run in families and an inherited tendency to depression raises the risk of someone developing an eating disorder. Second, it has been observed that people who strive toward perfectionism and set very high standards for themselves, are also at risk of developing eating disorders. Thirdly, social factors such as the desire to be thin which permeates the world of fashion, exert a strong pressure on women to remain slim, Kazinform refers to the Arab News. The prevalence of binge-eating among young adult women is found to be between 5 and 10 percent and the prevalence of the full disorder of bulimia nervosa within this group is between 1 and 2 percent. It should be noted that bulimia nervosa is rare among men. However, "over the past 30 years, bulimia nervosa appears to have become more common than previously," says Peter Cooper. People suffering from bulimia nervosa and binge-eating are obsessed with food but they cannot control their eating habits. They constantly experience periods of binges and dieting which severely affect their social lives: "My eating problem has taken over my whole life. My friendships have been upset by my violent swings in mood, I never talk to my parents since they have never understood what I am going through, yet we were so close. I have so little self-confidence. I get terribly depressed and anxious. I can't face seeing people," explains a patient suffering from bulimia nervosa. The second part of the book is a self-help manual for those who want to recover from their eating disorder. This step-by-step program has been found in independent clinical research to be of substantial benefit to people suffering from bulimia nervosa. The author strongly believes that restoring eating habits to normal is worth the effort involved. The shame and guilt which frequently surrounds binge-eating and vomiting, leads people to live a secret life. Moreover, the constant preoccupation with weight, food and eating can also cause depression, mood swings and anxiety. Consequently, bulimia nervosa affect's one's social life. Since much of our social life involves eating with other people, patients suffering from bulimia nervosa end up eating on their own. It is also common for people to feel fat and unattractive after a binge and for that reason they do not want to be seen by anyone. Finally, the potential medical complications associated with bulimia nervosa and binge-eating are reversible and this adds force to the argument that it is worth making an effort to recover. A user of the program set up by Peter Cooper acknowledges that the manual by providing convincing explanations about this disorder, gave her a greater understanding of all aspects of the problem of bulimia: "I am twenty-one and I have been fighting against bulimia nervosa for six years...I had been told for years all the correct attitudes that I ought to have until I was blue in the face, but it did no good...This now has changed, The manual helped me so much by giving me, on a day-to-day basis practical and realistic strategies and goals...I can refer to it privately as a confidante, as a friend, whenever necessary. It is a reminder of the truthful facts when I lose sight and when I feel I am slipping back. I have turned the corner now and, by continuing with the manual, I know I will be all right. After all these years this is hard to believe." The author uses cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT) which are now widely accepted as the first line treatment for eating disorders such binge-eating and bulimia nervosa: "The starting-point for CBT is the realization that the way we think, feel and behave are all intimately linked, and changing the way we think about ourselves, our experiences, and the world around us changes the way we feel and what we are able to do". Overcoming bulimia nervosa and binge-eating is a struggle but the author strikes the right cord with his readers because he has a deep understanding of their eating disorders. He gains their trust by explaining how to get on the right track in a realistic way. This guide, a proven path to recovery from bulimia, is a must read for anyone suffering from eating disorders.

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