6 Ways Binge Eating Can Hurt Your Health
If you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time on a regular basis, you might have binge eating disorder (BED). It can affect your health in a lot of ways, but two of the main risks are weight gain and obesity. Two-thirds of those with BED are obese, though average-sized people can have it, too.
Set a goal to shed those added pounds. You can reach a healthy weight with exercise, portion control, and smart food choices. But you might need a special program that also treats eating disorders. Your doctor can help you find the right one.
Overeating can lead to diabetes. That means your body can’t use the hormone insulin correctly, which makes your blood sugar levels harder to control. Over time, this can damage your kidneys, your eyes, and your heart.
The more you know about diabetes, the better you can take control of your condition. You’ll need to keep track of your blood sugar levels, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise. You may need medication to manage the disease, but not everyone does.
Binge eating disorder often goes hand in hand with mood troubles. Doctors think many things can lead to BED, so it’s hard to say for sure that depression or anxiety cause it. But people who binge eat often feel shame and guilt about their problem. Most try to hide it.
Eat nutritious food, exercise, and get your ZZZs, because healthy habits like those can help you fight your anxiety or depression. But treatment for BED also might include sessions with a mental health professional, who could recommend talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or other medicines that can help treat binge-eating behavior.
Long-lasting heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also happen to people who binge eat. Those issues are often linked with weight gain and obesity, so doctors aren’t sure if the disorder itself or the excess pounds are to blame.
Heartburn that doesn’t get better can cause serious issues, including damage to your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. See your doctor if you have it twice a week or more. She might give you prescription meds or tell you to see another doctor who specializes in digestion. For IBS, a healthy diet and cutting stress can help, but you may also need medication.
Many health problems linked to BED -- obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides (fat in your blood), and yo-yo weight gain and loss -- also raise the risk of trouble with your gallbladder. That's the small pouch that sits under your liver. The most common problem is gallstones, the buildup of cholesterol or bile in the organ.
Your doctor might be able to remove them with surgery, or she may have to take out your gallbladder. Sometimes doctors prescribe a drug to dissolve gallstones, but that’s not a long-term solution.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are common with BED, and they can raise your chances of a stroke and heart disease. When your blood pressure stays too high for a long time, it strains your blood vessels. And high cholesterol can clog your arteries.
Stop smoking, lose extra weight, and exercise regularly to lower your blood pressure. Those same steps can lower your cholesterol, as will a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Your doctor might also prescribe drugs to keep your BP and cholesterol numbers low.