In our practice we often see a link between binge eating and bipolar. Recent studies are showing that there is a link between emotional eating and bipolar disorder, with as many as 10% of bipolar sufferers also struggling with eating disorders, a much higher percentage than in the general population.
The Mayo Clinic, which has studied the link between binge eating and bipolar disorder, hope to discover a genetic link between bipolar and eating disorders which may lead to more personalized and targeted treatment options.
Symptoms of binge eating disorder may include:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
These are signs of an emotional eating problem that won’t get better on its own. Seek a physician or mental health specialist’s advice if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Steps you can take to reinforce your treatment plan include:
- Stick to your treatment. Don’t skip therapy sessions. If you have a meal plan, do your best to stick to it and don’t let setbacks derail your overall efforts.
- Avoid dieting, unless it’s supervised. Trying to diet can trigger more binge episodes, leading to a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Talk with your doctor about appropriate weight management strategies for you — don’t diet unless it’s recommended for your eating disorder treatment and supervised by your doctor.
- Eat breakfast. Many people with binge-eating disorder skip breakfast. But, if you eat breakfast, you may be less prone to eating higher calorie meals later in the day.
- Arrange your environment. Availability of certain foods can trigger binges for some people. Keep tempting binge foods out of your home or limit your exposure to those foods as best you can.
- Get the right nutrients. Just because you may be eating a lot during binges doesn’t mean you’re eating the kinds of food that supply all of your essential nutrients. Ask your doctor if you need vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Stay connected. Don’t isolate yourself from caring family members and friends who want to see you get healthy. Understand that they have your best interests at heart.
- Get active. Ask your health care provider what kind of physical activity is appropriate for you, especially if you have health problems related to being overweight.
While there is a link between binge eating and bipolar, the good news is that when treatment of the various issues is coordinated, stability is likely to be easier to achieve.