The mind distracts itself in impressive ways when it comes to abusing the body. With disordered eating especially, it rationalizes the consumption of food in peculiar ways. For example, with anorexia, the mind is convinced if it starves itself, it will achieve perfection. Bulimia convinces the mind that consuming too many calories can be remedied by purging. Other disordered eating behaviors see that consuming minimal calories one day can be an antidote to consuming too many calories the day before. Science continually proves none of these theories to be true. Yet, eating disorders, which greatly thrive on habit, persist in these patterns. Each time the body is abused in its ability to tolerate food or the absence of it, the body is affected.
How Does the Body React to a Binge?
After food leaves the stomach and enters the small intestine, the pancreas secretes its digestive enzymes to help digest the food. The pancreas is responsible for managing the body’s sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose, or, sugar. Binge episodes usually involve the food types avoided for fear of gaining weight. Anticipating a successive purge, a binge will focus on such foods involving sugars and carbohydrates, which contain sugar. Consuming excessive amounts of sugary foods forces the pancreas to produce a compensatory amount of insulin. This process is energy-consuming and exhausts many internal functions in the body.
Binging is a form of stress on the body. Insulin is just one of the hormones reacting to a binge episode. Adrenaline and cortisol are two other hormones produced in response to stress. Feeling imbalanced or threatened, the body surges production of these hormones. For many people, there is a certain euphoria in binging. Partly this is due to adrenaline. After every peak comes a valley. Falling levels of cortisol in addition to a plummet in sugar levels lead to irritability and lethargy.
Swinging extremes of hormone production negatively impact the brain, body, digestive system, and immune system as well. Organs go into shock when they have to process so much food. After a binge episode, the body’s immune system is weakened. Rather than focus on regular activity, the body has to focus on reinvigorating homeostasis.