While many people think of extreme weight loss when they consider eating disorders, there are also eating disorder that can result in overall weight gain, even obesity and morbid obesity.
Two eating disorders that will result in weight gain include food addiction as well as binge eating disorder. Food addiction occurs when the consumption of specific types of foods, typically those that are high in sugar, salt and processed carbohydrates, cause chemical changes in the brain that are similar to the changes seen when an individual is using drugs or alcohol. This is more than a craving for a specific type of food; it is an all-consuming desire not to just sample the food, but to consume it continually or in high amounts.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder occurs when an individual feels compelled to eat very large amounts of foods in a short period of time. This is not due to physical hunger, but rather to a triggering event, often a negative experience or emotions, where food is used in the same way as alcohol or drugs as a self-medicating treatment.
Unlike bulimia, the individual does not purge after binging, often consuming thousands of calories in just an hour two. During this time, these individuals feel out of control and, while initially they have the release of the "feel good" chemicals in the brain, this is soon replaced by feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment that will build over time to trigger another cycle.
These are two different types of eating disorders that can be diagnosed as a mental health condition and also lead to weight gain. They do not occur because of lack of willpower or the inability of the individual to simply control his or her diet and lifestyle. They are also not one-time events; they are behaviours and thoughts about food and self that occur over months or years and pose the risk of serious physical and mental health issues for those with the conditions.
Weight gain can occur in anyone at any stage in life. Weight is a complex issue that is based on genetics, caloric intake, metabolism, age, overall health and physical fitness levels as well as exercise and lifestyle choices.
Understanding if there is an eating disorder or if the weight gain is due to the factors mentioned immediately above starts with taking an honest look at yourself and how you see and interact with food.
To get started, consider the following questions:
1. Does my weight change dramatically from week to week or month to month?
2. Do I hide my eating?
3. Do I crave specific foods to the point of inability to focus on other things?
4. Do I consume large amounts of food to the point of discomfort?
5. Do I try "crash" diets and lose weight, only to immediately go off the diet and back to prior eating patterns?
6. Do I feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed about my eating and about my weight?
7. Do I feel out of control and unable to stop specific behaviours around food consumption even though I understand they are unhealthy and dangerous?
If the answers to these questions are yes, or even if the answer to a few of the questions are yes, talk to a therapist. There may be underlying issues to your weight gain that are not just a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. By getting to the root of these issues, you can learn how to balance your lifestyle, your food intake and maintain a healthy weight and a happier life.
Keywords: binge eating disorder, Addiction
By: john Bradyen
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