Seed | Eating Disorder Support Service

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What is a binge?

  • Someone in 'binge mode' will do so on high carb, high sugar type foods. They often eat things in a very controlled and systematic way, and will have planned the 'binge' and often foods are eaten in a specific order. The food is often eaten with ferocity too.
  • Once the food has been eaten there is an overwhelming need to rid themselves of that food as they panic that they may gain weight. Ridding themselves of the food is known as 'purging'. This may be through vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretics (water tablets) or exercise. The purging behaviours are often referred to as 'compensatory behaviours'.

  • Try keeping a food diary, this may help in making a connection with food and mood - what was happening for you at the time of your binge, what were you feeling, what were your thoughts.
  • In the case of Bulimia Nervosa, if the compensatory behaviours are out of control and the binge purge cycles are frequent and excessive, the person may become medically at risk through low potassium levels.
  • Potassium is a chemical that regulates the heart; if potassium levels are low the sufferer may be at risk of heart irregularities and, at worst, heart failure.
  • Sufferers will use food and food issues as a coping strategy for something they feel they have no control over. They often feel they cannot control what is happening within their life so the one thing they can control is their food.

We have talked about an eating disorder being about feelings not about food - when someone is in binge mode they feel that their problems disappear as the high carb / high sugar has a direct affect on the base of the brain. Have you heard of the sugar rush?

Sadly when the binge is over and the compensatory behaviours (i.e. vomiting and laxative abuse) are finished, the guilt and shame takes over and the person reverts to a low mood once again.

That person binges to experience an overwhelming feeling of wellness, it takes that 'crutch' away and they will not cope on a day to day basis.

What is actually happening is that the sufferer becomes embroiled in a vicious cycle of binging and purging. This cycle leaves very little time for relationships, socialising and family!