Here’s the truth: I have binge eating disorder (BED). The sad truth? No one seems to know what this is when I tell them I have an eating disorder. Since we’re being honest here: if you looked at me, you probably wouldn’t have guessed I have an eating disorder.
Unfortunately, I am not the only “plus-size” person that has an eating disorder. It’s actually a growing problem for people that are classified as “overweight” or “obese” by societal standards. I am also not the only person to be told that I don’t “look like I have an eating disorder.” This happens to a lot of people, whether they be considered ‘fat’ or ‘thin’.
I have been told by some that I should simply "eat three meals” or that I should just "exercise some more.” Much like people with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, comments like these can make the behaviors even more obsessive and dangerous. When people make these remarks I can't help but think: “Oh well I’m already running a mile a day, but they can see I’m fat, so I must run two more”. Or: “I’m already restricting to make up for a binge, but they obviously must think that I'm still eating too much."
Binge eating disorders are not just a food/weight issue—in fact, food is not the root of the problem. It’s a coping mechanism that some people use to avoid something that may be truly bothering them (much like anorexics and bulimics do by starving or purging, respectively).
According to the DSM-5, binge eating disorder is defined as “recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under circumstances.” People with BED may eat rapidly or when they're not actually hungry. They can eat alone to hide their behavior, and might feel extreme guilt or shame after their behavior is finished. BED also differs from overeating because it’s way less common but even more severe, and can be associated with psychological problems.
I wish that someone would've told me about this disorder my freshman year in 2014. That's when my disordered eating habits (bingeing, but also some purging with restrictive behaviors) began to affect me. Although I've been dieting and dealing with body image issues since age 14. Binge eating disorder is a serious disorder and people need to be treated for it. I am six weeks into my recovery and each day is a struggle, but it’s also an opportunity for me to beat my disorder.
So to anyone out there who may be struggling with this, please know that you deserve to get help so you can begin to feel better. You are not a fat lazy slob—you are a human being with an eating disorder. In fact, BED is more common than anorexia and bulimia combined—so please don’t feel like you’re the only one with this battle to fight. Maybe if more people would change the way they talk about it, then we could look at BED, the sufferers of it, and ourselves a little differently.
For more information, you can visit the National Eating Disorder Association's webpage
or the Binge Eating Disorder Association's website