Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by binge eating without the compensatory behaviors characteristic of Bulimia. Often dismissed as emotional eating or compulsive eating, only recently has the medical community recognized binge eating as a disorder. The binge-eating episode may be accompanied by eating more than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food independent of physical hunger, eating alone because of the embarrassment about the large quantities consumed, and feeling guilty after consuming large amounts of food. Research suggests that Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder. Most people with Binge Eating Disorder are more than 20 percent above a healthy body weight, but normal weight people also can be affected.

The typical age of onset for Binge Eating Disorder is during adolescence or young adulthood, but most individuals will only seek treatment in middle adulthood when they are experiencing physical symptoms related to being overweight, such as Type II diabetes, hypertension, and gastric problems. Warning signs of Binge Eating Disorder include sudden weight gain and the disappearance of large amounts of food.

If you experience episodes of emotional eating or compulsive eating, you may need treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. For long-term success, treatment must address underlying issues such as anxiety, depression, and lack of impulse control.

Emotional and behavioral signs of binge eating disorder

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Any new practice with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
  • Fear of eating in public or with others
  • Steals or hoards food in strange places
  • Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions
  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities
  • Frequently diets
  • Shows extreme concern with body weight and shape
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Has secret recurring episodes of binge eating (eating in a discrete period of time an amount of food that is much larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances); feels lack of control over ability to stop eating
  • Disruption in normal eating behaviors, including eating throughout the day with no planned mealtimes; skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals; engaging in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting
  • Developing food rituals (e.g., eating only a particular food or food group such as  condiments, excessive chewing, not allowing foods to touch).
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten
  • Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after overeating
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Feelings of low self-esteem

Physical signs of binge eating disorder

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
  • Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
  • Difficulties concentrating

What Kind of Care is Right for Me?

If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, you can use these assessments for more information

Confidential & Easy Eating Disorder Screening Survey: Find out today if you or a loved one are possibly in need of eating disorder treatment.