Binge Eating Disorder is one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed eating disorders.
Yes, you can have Binge Eating Disorder without being fat.
And yes, you can struggle with a weight problem without having Binge Eating Disorder or any eating disorder for that matter.
It is expected to occur in approx. 30% of obese individuals, but some people do indeed have Binge Eating Disorder without being technically obese.
Food addiction is the main driver in Binge Eating Disorder.
Animal studies have shown that rats can become addicted to natural food substances like sugar. Hoebel et al. maintained rats on a schedule of 12-hour food restriction followed by 12-hour access to a 25% glucose or 10% sucrose solution and rodent chow.
The 10% sucrose solution mimics the sweetness found in soft drinks.
After a few days, the rats quickly showed symptoms of binge-like behavior within the first hour of access.
It appears that intermittent access is the trigger that results in binge-eating behavior in animals.
What does that mean for dieting and the restriction behaviors that most of us go deep in come bikini season? We are setting ourselves up for a wrecked appetite signaling system that will only lead to constant hunger feelings and for many of us also weight gain - although some of us may find that we restrict enough between the binges to maintain normal weight, the feeling of hunger and starvation will drive you nuts.
The take-away message?
Nothing good ever came from restricting ourself. Our body will always find a way to fight back. Why I am not a fan of Intermittent Fasting by the way - especially for females it really wrecks havoc on serotonin: setting us up for mood and sleep imbalances along with great vulnerability to binge behavior.
Reference: Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008; 32(1): 20–39.