Binge eating is considered an eating disorder when you can not stop yourself from eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time, even when you are not hungry.
Most people who have this problem feel very unhappy with themselves after a binging episode, and many binge eaters also suffer from depression.
Compulsive overeating is usually considered a psychological problem, so it's fairly common for antidepressants to be prescribed. This eating disorder is thought to be caused by a combination of genetics, social and family interaction and psychological factors.
Oddly enough, nutrition and diet is not usually considered when binge eating is being treated, but perhaps it should be.
A number of chronic illnesses are clustered together under the term "metabolic syndrome", including obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and depression.
According to a scholarly paper published in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the metabolic syndrome "was associated with a current diagnosis of major depression and overeating."
So, what is the metabolic syndrome all about? A syndrome is defined as a A set of symptoms that often occur together, and which are believed to stem from the same cause.
In the case of the metabolic syndrome, the basic cause is thought to be a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism.
In the past the connection between heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, among other illnesses, was called "saccharine disease", "insulin resistance syndrome", and "Syndrome X", but they're all talking about the same problem.
In the past, all these illnesses were called "diseases of civilization", because they begin to appear in a population when Western-style refined foods become available.
Before white sugar and white flour could be cheaply produced, diabetes, heart disease and depression were almost completely unknown.
It could be said that these illnesses are caused by a change in the environment. One thing that has been recently discovered is that some people are more likely than others to developing insulin resistance when they eat refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, flour and high-fructose corn syrup.
These folks, gain weight much faster on a diet based on refined foods than people whose genetic makeup makes them relatively immune to insulin resistance.
This is why some people talk about a genetic tendency to become obese. This is really a tendency to develop insulin resistance, which never happens to people who do not eat refined carbohydrate foods.
Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to have a sweet tooth, and who tend to have cravings for sugar, candies, cakes, breads and pastas, are the same people who are most likely to develop insulin resistance, the underlying cause of the metabolic syndrome.
These cravings can often take the form of uncontrollable binge eating. The underlying cause of this compulsive need to eat, even when you are not hungry, may be an underlying metabolic disorder that locks up many of the most important vitamins, minerals and fuel sources in the fat cells.
When this happens, the other cells in the body are starved of nutrients. Starvation causes food cravings and obsessions, even when a person is carrying excess fat on their body. People who overeat often have the same psychological symptoms as people on a low-calorie diet, which can include food obsessions, binge eating, and mood swings.
When you continue eating long after you're full, even when you do not want to, the natural psychological response is to blame yourself for a lack of control, and this self-blaming response is even more probable since depression is one of the illnesses associated with the metabolic syndrome.
Although these illnesses often occur together, they are usually treated separately by medical professionals and counselors who are not trained in nutrition. This is especially true of the illnesses that are usually thought to be "psychological" in nature – including depression and binge eating.
However, more and more patients are taking steps to learn more about their own illnesses, and one of the most important steps is to improve their diets in order to reverse the damage done by refined carbohydrates and the resulting insulin resistance.
It would never be advisable to stop taking medication without consulting with your doctor, but eating a more nutritious and less dangerous diet could help improve your overall health, and may even reduce your food cravings.
Eating a healthy diet that is based on natural, unrefined foods can stop the metabolic damage caused by refined carbohydrates. Many people have found that their symptoms of high blood pressure, depression, diabetes and even some kinds of arthritis are greatly reduced on a natural diet. And eating disorders, like binge eating, either go away entirely or are much easier to control.