An invisible and despised truth

An invisible and despised truth

Little by little, the taboo imposed on them is being broken Eating disorders (TCA), and also those disorders that are notAnorexia Not even Bulimia, the most famous of them. Despite the fact that many of the manifestations of these two diseases that depart from clichés remain invisible, all the more so as all eating disorders have other labels, even more so if they often cause weight gain rather than causing weight loss. This is the situation Binge eating disorderwhich is a fairly common eating disorder, but on the other hand, it becomes invisible and underestimated.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of binge eating, which are similar to those that occur in bulimia, but in this case they do not have compensatory behaviors – vomiting, use of laxatives, subsequent periods of restriction or with extreme sports… – and, therefore, it is It usually causes weight gain. What is considered a binge eating episode? It is eating an amount of food, in a short period of time, that is much greater than eating it normally and slowly. Under normal circumstances, a person controls what he eats; In contrast, in the case of binging, a feeling of loss of control appears, in addition to a subsequent feeling of extreme fullness and feelings of guilt or shame. In fact, it is often done in secret.

Restrictive diets, a risk factor

“One thing that is common in both binge eating disorder and bulimia is that they are the result of previous dietary restrictions,” he explains. Joseph Toro, psychologist, psychiatrist, professor emeritus at the University of Barcelona and former head of the Child Psychiatry Service at Hospital Clinic. In other words, hunger caused by a very restrictive diet can lead to this type of compulsive eating, which can end up becoming chronic and which often has a function beyond allaying physiological hunger, and also serves as an escape route from problems. Emotional. the actor Hector FidondoHe, who suffered from this disorder, explains that in his case, bulimia appeared before the diet, but also after it. “I've been on a certain diet and it hasn't worked for me, and in those cases you always end up thinking you lack willpower.” In fact, he went on a diet that resulted in him losing eighteen pounds, but he gained them back.

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According to Toro, binge eating can occur before restriction, but with sufficient intensity and frequency to initiate the disorder, it almost always appears after restriction, from a strict diet. “If there are no overly restrictive diets, binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa will not develop,” he explains. In fact, it is estimated that about 50% of cases of anorexia nervosa develop into bulimia, and in some cases into binge eating disorder. The psychiatrist and psychiatrist also highlight some of the disorders associated with it, such as impulse control disorder or anxiety disorder, as well as a clear preoccupation with the body that often leads to restrictions that later lead to binge eating. Most patients are women, although it can also affect men, as in the case of Fidondo, and in 90% of cases there is weight gain.

“It's like a food addiction.”

“I didn't encounter it until while I was preparing for a role in a play, I went to a web page that talked about this disorder, and I found myself completely identifying with it,” explains the actor, who was 20 at the time. year. “It was like taking off a backpack. I told my parents I needed help and began a treatment process combining individual and group therapy, with people who had gone through the same thing as me, most of them friends. I was also advised by a nutritionist, but by no means put me on a diet.” “The important work is the emotional work.”

In fact, in binge eating disorder, as in other eating disorders, the visual part, which is the relationship with food, is only the tip of the iceberg, and at the base there are emotional and environmental issues that need to be addressed. will be processed. “You realize that you cope better or worse with food depending on how emotionally stable you are. It's like an addiction, but to food. Just as an alcoholic soothes his emotional problems with drinks, in this case, you soothe them with food. You can use it when you're feeling down and to celebrate something.”

Touro defines it as a psychophysiological issue. “In situations of stress, pressure and anxiety, a part of the population eats more than it should, and this helps relieve anxiety and tension. On the other hand, there is another part that when it feels stressed it eats less. These are differences in the systems of nervous regulation of appetite,” says the psychiatrist and physician. Psychologically, in the treatment of the disorder there are two important things: the line of treatment of the disorder itself and the line of treatment of other added disorders. “In order for the patient to be able to control himself, it is necessary to organize a personal plan around the moments in which bulimia occurs, and the schedules… reschedule them. Binge eating disorder at night, in the middle of the night, which is very common in older women, is not the same as the binge eating of someone who goes to a pastry shop and buys ten croissants. And find out if the individual suffers from an anxiety disorder, symptoms of depression, or if a stressful situation has occurred…

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Fidondo explains that it is a disorder that can be overcome, as in his case, but you have to be vigilant to avoid relapses: “My operation took two and a half years and I finished it two years ago, but I am still hanging on.” About my emotional state, above all, so that it doesn't happen again. In this disorder, you are addicted to something that you cannot stop, it is not like an alcoholic who has to stop drinking completely. You have to face your kryptonite several times a day.

Diet culture and the role of the environment

Among other factors, aesthetic pressure, diet culture and fatphobia are central to understanding the disorder, and are often conveyed by a person's environment in more or less obvious ways. Stigmatizing or banning foods, pointing out or blaming fat people, and ignoring physical and emotional factors are common behaviors that do not help. “Everyone thinks they have the solution, and the solution is always to eat less and exercise more,” denounces Fidondo. “Often this is not the case. Eating less does not always mean losing weight. In fact, non-restrictive diets are better. We must realize, as a society, that it is not always the case that obese people eat more or exercise less.” It can be due to a thyroid problem or many other things. It is dangerous to always understand exercise as a way to overcome yourself, because when you try to do it and it does not work, you sink further. It is also important to remove from the collective imagination that gluttony is always about With sugar, and this picture of the fat person with the cake, and this “You should eat less sweets.” And in my case, almost all of them were salty.

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Misinformation and prejudices often lead to the disorder being belittled and invisible, to the belief that it is not a psychological problem, but a matter of willpower. “We have to understand that it is not a vice, it is not a defect, but rather a disorder that requires professional help. The first thing is to make the person realize that he has it,” Toro points out. “It's often difficult to detect, because we all know people who are overweight and no one ever thinks they might have binge eating disorder. In the case of bulimia, which is more ostentatious, because it involves compensatory behaviors like vomiting, it's often What it takes a long time for families to figure out. We also need to break the bias that eating disorders only affect teenage girls who are severely underweight. They can affect people of all ages and all bodies. In fact, binge eating disorder is More common after the age of 20.

Making the disorder visible and knowing it is key to being able to detect and treat it, which is why Hector Fidondo tells his story whenever the topic comes up. “When we talk about eating disorders, we only talk about anorexia and bulimia, we never talk about binge eating disorder, and I also wonder how it doesn't appear in people who have a different metabolism and may have a harder time gaining weight. And I wasn't ashamed I never say that, because I've suffered from not knowing I had the disorder, and since I know it, I try to spread the word as much as I can, so that first part of the guilt goes away from people who have it.

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