Blog Love: Binge Eating Rats and Nutella

I'm in blog love.

This blog has been around for a while, but I only discovered it via Twitter this weekend*.

It's a PhD's brain blog, and she's talking about binge eating rats.  And Nutella.

It's basically the perfect blog post (for me).

Here she's describing how a study created binge eating behavior in female rats:

The female rats were exposed to this palatable food…but not permitted to eat it. They were allowed to smell it and ALMOST to touch it. This caused the rats a certain amount of frustration and stress, and when exposed to the actual nutella mixture, they will then binge eat on it, much more than animals seeing nutella for the first time.

Fascinating.  Truly.  I find that utterly fascinating -- and not at all surprising -- in the context of animal behavior (including human animals).

She essentially just described the restrict/binge cycle that fuels most eating disorders.  (In anorexia a binge is not an objective binge, but subjective binges occur more often than not.)

When I started reading this post, I thought, "Oh no.  She's talking about appetite?  Does she really not know that eating disorders, including binge eating, have nothing to do with physical appetite?"

I love having my wrong assumptions thrown in my face, times like these.

The post itself doesn't really acknowledge the eating disorder spectrum-wide presence of this same cycle, which is fine.  It's not an eating disorder blog, and the post is talking about binge eating rats, not generally about human eating disorder patients.

What she doesn't state and what I'd like to highlight is that reducing or eliminating the binge eating symptom (or whichever ED symptom) doesn't reduce or eliminate the disorder.  Rather, like in addiction, once you achieve a reduction in symptoms (or "uses" if you will), you then begin to work on the disorder itself.  The disorder isn't the symptoms, but you can't work on it in the midst of symptoms, not really.  And that, more or less, is the point of psychopharm treatment in eating disorders.

*Someone was dressing down Naomi Wolf's new book Vagina: A New Biography, and pointed here to argue that if the science Wolf describes were really as groundbreaking and yet sound as Wolf wants it to be, someone like Scicurious would've been going on about it for a while already.

1 comment:

  1. Eating disorders are traditionally seen as a problem for women, not men. However, the number of men and boys being diagnosed with the disorder is on the increase. It is estimated that boys make up between 10-20% of all sufferers in the U.K.  A recent study published in the “International Journal of Eating Disorders”* suggests that nearly as many men may be suffering from binge eating disorders as women, but are less likely to seek help. This could mean the actual percentage of men suffering is a lot higher, but they do not seek help due to the stigma of having a mental health issue, or being seen as “weak” or “unmanly”. Teenage boys and eating disorders The triggers of eating disorders…


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