Binge eating has come to my attention because of the research I have been doing around nutrition and reverse dieting. A lot of men and women, including me, binge eat without thinking about the negative effects it can have on our body. Binge eating is when you consume a large amount of food in one sitting. You might binge eat for a number of reason including hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemia and restrictive eating. However, binge eating can be somewhat more serious and is classed as an eating disorder if one feels powerless about the food.
There have been times when I have been low and I have just had a few sips of Lucozade and I have been fine, but there have also been times when I would eat everything in sight because I felt like I was going to die if I didn’t, at this point I would be shaking and not really able stand really stand up. This happens rarely and only if I am really low like 2.2mmols. The feeling is like I have never eaten before. There is a strange pleasure in the feeling of eating, but the taste of the food is irrelevant and it’s as if it all tastes the same. There are a lot of people who over treat lows and could end up eating more than a meals worth of carbs.
If this sound like you and don’t have a major amount of insulin on board you could reach for your 15 carbs and then walk away from the area that has more food. The chances are, once your blood sugar has reached a normal level you won’t feel the need to over treat it. I have Lucozade in every room of my house, this helps to stay away from the kitchen. Also, if I am in the kitchen I know that I could grab a cracker and that would probably fix the low.
If you do continue to over treat hypoglycaemia it is important to avoid the other end of the scale by paying attention to what you’re consuming and to be honest with the amount you have eaten so you can calculate the carbs and dose accordingly.
I find it interesting that people don’t tend to talk about this, especially because unexplained hunger it is one of the symptoms that would prompt a doctor to check you for diabetes in the first place. Hyperglycaemia is when blood sugar levels are high because there is lack insulin in the body that would enable the release the glucose from the blood.
In relation to binge eating hyperglycaemia is extremely relevant. In my experience, when I am high, like above 20mmols, I have a never ending hunger that could easily go on a downward spiral of regret. Although, again, it doesn’t and won’t happen often I could literally eat and eat and still not feel full. The way I manage this now it that I have recognised that it is false hunger. This “hunger” is a direct result of my body not accessing the energy that I have given it earlier in the day which caused the hyper in the first place. If I am high I do whatever I can to get it down and then decide if I am actually hungry or not.
I talk about this all the time on instagram and I am totally guilty of it myself. One of the main causes of binge eating is restrictive dieting. If you stop eating the foods you like or you eat too little of the foods you do include into your diet, your body will eventually tell you it needs feeding and so your brain flips a switch where you go onto autopilot and you make the decision to eat anything and everything.
If in general if you find that you are having regular binge eating sessions, it might be an idea to look at your caloric intake for about a week to see if you are eating enough. A lot of people go on extreme diets, cutting out full macronutrients sources such as carbs and fats without knowing how this will affect them other than the size of their waist. Be smart and educate yourself on nutrition. Here is a great calculator for finding out how many calories you need and here is a great tool for tracking your calories you eat daily.
In many cases, binge eating is linked to psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and guilt. There are a number of options for treating this and the main one is cognitive behavioural therapy. Please contact your doctor if you feel that it goes a bit deeper than what is mentioned above.
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p.s. after writing this blog, I became aware of a fellow diabetic who has overcome binge eating so you might want ot read her story. You can find it here.