According to the National Eating Disorders Association, around 2.8 million adults suffer from mental illnesses that subject them to the sicknesses associated with binge eating.
People who suffer from this disease often experience episodes of guilt before and after engaging in obsessive overeating. In America, binge eating disorders (B.E.D.) are often publicized as a plague that exclusively affects younger, white women. However, is this widely accepted perception of the typical B.E.D. sufferer inaccurate?
According to Dr. Lesley Williams, a board certified eating disorder specialist and family medicine physician, black women are a severely underrepresented demographic of victims in the battle against B.E.D. Dr. Williams recently did an interview with BlackDoctor.org. She spoke factually about the silent suffering of black women who are living with B.E.D.
“Sometimes it may be something that is happening emotionally,” Dr. Williams said.
“Oftentimes in the African American community, we don’t talk much about mental health. So, frequently, someone may be facing some kind of distress and not know how to manage it – instead of talking to someone about it, they look to food as a form of comfort,” she continued.
While operating her practice, Dr. Williams has observed that black women, in particular, don’t discuss eating when they are dealing with a life event that has brought about a level of emotional distress. “Many times, turning to food is more acceptable than [seeking] professional help, therapy, or even medication,” Dr. Williams also said.
Because of the self-inflicted barriers black women and black people as a whole are placing in their own paths during their harmful fight against B.E.D., there isn’t a wealth of data on how this disorder affects people of color in America. Dr. Williams believes that admitting a problem exists is the first step toward getting effective treatment.
“If the situation has gotten to the point where it is impacting your daily life – distracting you at work – or causing you to gain a considerable amount of weight, you need to seek professional help,” Dr. Williams added.