What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

People with binge eating disorder frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. Learn about symptoms here.

It's normal to eat too much from time to time. We've all gone back for thirds at a holiday meal and felt ready to pop after feasting. Binge eating disorder, or BED, is different. It's a psychological problem. You might have it if you eat a very large amount of food in a short amount of time (about a 2-hour period) at least 1 day a week for 3 months.

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder is compulsive overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop. Binge eating episodes are typically classified as occurring on average a minimum of twice per week for a duration of six months..

Though BED occurs in men and women of normal weight, it often leads to the you becoming overweight or even obese.

Some Signs of BED Include:

  • Secret behaviour: You binge when you're alone. This may be late at night or in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. You "get rid of the evidence" and hide wrappers or food containers.
  • Food hoarding: You stockpile bags of chips or cookies in your closet or under your bed.
  • Lack of control: You can't help how much you eat or when to stop. You feel uncomfortably full after a binge.
  • Abnormal eating pattern: You may eat lightly throughout the day without set meal times. Or you eat a small bit at meals or skip them all together.
  • Food rituals: You may chew too much or not let foods touch on a plate. You might only eat certain foods or groups - eating only yogurt, for example.
  • No purging: You don't do things to get rid of extra calories, like make yourself throw up, exercise, or take laxatives.

Binge eating often shows up on the scale, but not always. You don't have to be overweight to have it.

Emotional Symptoms

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

BED is a vicious cycle. You binge to relieve tension or numb bad feelings. But you feel worthless, angry, ashamed, and anxious afterward.

Other internal symptoms include:

Mood disorders: Half of people with BED are depressed or have a history of depression. But it's not clear how the two are related. You may also be moody, irritable, or not want to be around other people.

Trouble coping: People with BED often have a hard time with things like anger, boredom, and stress.

You're more at risk if you have these personality traits:

  • You're a people pleaser and avoid conflicts.
  • You demand perfection in yourself -- anything short is failure.
  • You're an "all or nothing" person.
  • You always want to be in control.

People with BED also may abuse alcohol or be impulsive, acting quickly without thinking.

Signs of BED in a Loved One

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Look for these red flags if you believe your child or another loved one is binge eating:

  • You find "stashes" of food -- like under a bed or in a bag.
  • Large amounts of food go missing from the fridge overnight.
  • Your loved one "disappears" behind closed doors or stays up late at night to binge in secret.
  • Your loved one hides her body with baggy clothes.

If you think there's a problem, talk with your loved one about it in a comforting, understanding way. He may blame himself for being weak or not having the will power to stop. He may be defensive. Start the conversation with, "I love you, and I'm worried you may have a problem."

Tell your loved one that binge eating disorder is a real psychological problem that is treatable with therapy and medication. It may take time and hard work, but assure her that she can find peace with food and her emotions again.

The consequences of BED involve many physical, social, and emotional difficulties.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Some of these complications are:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insomnia or sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Muscle and/or joint pain
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Depression and/or anxiety

What You Can Do


Talk to an eating disorder specialist, psychiatrist, or psychologist if you think you may have BED. Early treatment gives you a better chance to beat it.

Your therapist will ask about your eating habits and your emotions and help you decide on a plan. Psychological therapy, or talk therapy, can turn your relationship with food into a healthy one again.

You may learn how to get rid of negative thoughts so you can change your behavior. Therapy also can help you deal with stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues that may trigger the problem.

Resource: Web MD

Also read: Childhood obesity: When it becomes more than just baby fat

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