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The holiday party was still going full swing in the living room, so Bob felt safe ducking into the kitchen. His wife, JoAnn, was busy getting the holiday DVD setup for the kids in the family room, so he doubted anyone would be coming in. Half eaten meals littered the dishes spread along the countertops, many still with forks and spoons sticking out. If anyone did come in and catch him, Bob could say he was just clearing up for JoAnn.

Quickly going from dish to dish, Bob gulped down several spoonfuls or forkfuls of each plate. He really liked the fried stuffing Judy had prepared and stood hunched over the bowl, carefully picking off the crispy sides. Glancing around to see if he was still undetected, he sliced off a large wedge of cake and ate it with his fingers over the sink. When it was gone, Bob washed his hands and his mouth, removing any evidence. He sliced another large piece of cake onto a clean plate and walked back into the living room—with the “second plate” he’d announced he was getting when he first headed into the kitchen.

He’d worry about the consequences later. Either he’d work out a little harder or he’d just not eat for the next day or so. Tomorrow, he was determined to get serious about his eating habits, or at least after the holidays came to a close.

Binge eating consists of eating larger than normal amounts of food at least twice a week for a period of six months. Binge eaters show a lack of control during a binge episode, just like bulimics, but without the purging afterwards. There is no vomiting or excessive exercise or laxative use. Binge eating is also known as compulsive overeating and produces feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt over the amount consumed.

Binge eating has no relation to feelings of hunger. Not only will binge eaters eat when not physically hungry, they will also eat past normal signals of being full. Binge eating is marked by rapid and isolated food consumption. Embarrassed by the amount being eaten, binge eaters will choose stealth and speed to accomplish their goals.

Binge eaters like Bob especially struggle during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the excessive amounts of holiday treats and baked goods, there seems to be an endless supply of food within arms reach. Coupled with any stress caused by the holiday frenzy or family confrontations, binge eaters are likely at a greater risk for overeating during the holiday season.

It is important to be aware of this risk if you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder. Pay close attention to eating habits during the holidays, especially to “private binges” that may happen when no one is nearby. If you believe you or a loved one is struggling with binge eating disorder, you may benefit from consulting an eating disorder specialist. Our team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE focus on whole-person recovery, and take special care to understand the many aspects in a person’s life that may be contributing to their eating disorder, including the possibility of emotional abuse. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak with an eating disorder specialist today.