Experiences in the lives of women with binge eating disorder




Sandy, Kristina Julyanna

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences in the lives of women with binge eating disorder (BED). Eating disorders affect 5 to 10 million individuals in North America and 70 million worldwide. In Canada, approximately 3% of all women will be affected by an eating disorder during their lifetime. Due to the secretive nature of this illness these statistics are most likely under-reported rendering these illnesses difficult to treat. The complexity of eating disorders and potential for long-term side effects warrants attention from the mental health community. There are many theories as to the origins of this illness but no known causes or cures. BED is the most recent eating disorder included in the DSM-IV, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This research explored the phenomenon from the perspective of nine women who suffer from BED. These women were interviewed as to their emotional, psychological, physical, and cognitive experience of this illness and its effects in their everyday lives. The results found a number of distinctive themes emerging from the data; emotional connection to food; loss of control; isolative behaviour and secrets; cognitive obsessions; sense of not belonging/not fitting-in; feelings of not being good enough and weight issues/poor body image. The women felt strongly that BED was often misdiagnosed and misunderstood by both the general public and health professionals. They experienced a lack of adequate resources and support groups that offer relevant information and that were not "diet" related. Some women with BED who were also overweight or obese suffered the additional stigma and negative attitudes of "weight-ism" in North American culture where thinness is equated with success and happiness. This study provides a unique opportunity for these women to express their concerns, and offers valuable insights and information for mental health professionals working with the eating disorder population thus support the development of much needed programs for BED. This paper provides an opportunity for greater understanding of compulsive over-eating and challenges stereotypical attitudes while promoting self-reflection on the part of the reader.



bulimia, eating disorders