Binge Eating: Everything You Should Know

Binge Eating: What Is It?

When someone binges, they rapidly consume a lot of food, even when they are not hungry, and to the point of discomfort. Everybody sometimes overeats, but it may potentially develop into a disorder.

A severe but manageable disease known as binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurring bouts of overeating. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) now includes BED.

The disorder is defined by feeling out of control while eating and a sensation of shame or guilt about the habit, in addition to consuming large amounts of food excessively and to the point of pain.

It is particularly crucial to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of binge eating and get assistance if required since episodes of overeating that are labeled as binge eating may have a significant and detrimental influence on your health and well-being.

How to Diagnose a Binge Eating Disorder

Symptoms of Binge Eating

The two critical symptoms of binge eating are:

  • Eating more food than usual in a short period
  • Eating more food than usual in a short period

Three or more of the following symptoms are also present during the bouts of binge eating:

  • Feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating more quickly than usual
  • Eating when you’re not hungry
  • Feeling disgusted, guilty, or depressed
  • Feeling uncomfortably full

Diagnoses for Binge Eating

How can you tell whether you sometimes overeat or have a significant binge eating disorder? Some medical professionals could see sporadic binge eating episodes as typical. However, you should be concerned if a habit of binge eating begins to affect your life significantly.

People must also exhibit significant discomfort, refrain from compensatory actions like purging, and have at least one episode of binge eating per week for three months to be diagnosed with BED.

Your doctor will inquire about your current and previous eating habits to reach a diagnosis. The degree to which binge eating is severe might vary. Some may have more severe symptoms and binge 14 or more times per week, while others may have lesser symptoms and binge around once per week.

Binge Eating’s Side Effects

Binge eating may exacerbate a range of health issues, such as

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Obesity is associated with several of these medical disorders. More than half of those who suffer from binge eating disorders are also overweight.

Causes of Binge Eating

Binge eating’s exact causes are unknown. Among the potential risk factors are:

  • Genetics: According to research, binge eating disorder may have a significant hereditary component.
  • Family history: If someone in your immediate family also has an eating problem, you may be far more likely to acquire one.
  • Other mental illnesses: Many individuals with binge eating disorders also suffer from other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or drug use.
  • Body image problems and dieting: According to research, those who suffer from binge eating disorders often struggle with their body image, have a history of dieting, and overeat.

The Relationship between Eating Disorders and Body Image

Types of Binge Eating

It’s important to differentiate between overeating and binge eating since not all excessive eating is the same.


Everyone sometimes overeats. You could overeat pizza, have too many second helpings of your favorite dish, or even overindulge in popcorn while watching a late-night movie.

The amount of food regarded as “normal” overeating has no established limits. If you often overeat, you may want to ponder a few questions.

  • Do you consume more food than most individuals would under similar conditions and in the same period?
  • How do you feel after overindulging?

Binge eaters might feel everything from extreme pleasure to revulsion during and after bingeing.

Getting up during a holiday dinner to obtain seconds illustrates overeating. Indulging in a large quantity of food in a short period while feeling out of control is an example of binge eating.

Generally speaking, binge eaters eat more often than those who sometimes overeat. It should be noted that grazing throughout the day with snacks is not seen as binge eating.

Binge Eating

In general, there are various ways that binge eating is different from “regular” overeating:

  • Food is eaten more quickly.
  • Loss of control over how much food is ingested
  • Loss of control over how much food is ingested
  • Disgust, remorse, or guilt after the episode
  • Possibility of eating alone due to shame over the quantity of food consumed

Binge eaters may claim they feel powerless over what and how much they eat during overeating episodes. Some people who binge eat claim they feel compelled to eat as if it is an uncontrollable urge.

Some people who binge eat may conceal food in particular areas or even steal food from others. People may want to eat alone if they feel ashamed or embarrassed about how much they consume.

Another vital distinction between binge eating and overeating is this: A binge eater does not stop eating out of disgust. That voice will probably be heard by an overeater, who will then stop.

Treatment for Binge Eating

There is good news if you believe your eating habits are problematic or if your eating causes you distress. There are effective therapies that may assist individuals in controlling their eating habits and overcoming binge eating. Psychotherapy, medicines, or a mix of the two may be used as therapies.


Interpersonal therapy (IPT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) successfully treat binge eating disorders. The main goal of CBT is to recognize and alter unfavorable thinking processes that lead to undesirable actions.

Consult your doctor for guidance or search for qualified assistance in your locality. You will take a significant step in controlling binge eating by locating a skilled counselor, such as a registered clinical social worker or psychologist.


Some drugs have the potential to be an essential component of treatment. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and medications that assist regulate hunger and compulsions are a few of the medicines that may be prescribed.

Lisdexamfetamine, the medication known as Vyvanse, is often taken to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); however, it may also be used to treat binge-eating disorders. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 to treat binge eating disorders in adults.

Treatments for Binge Eating Disorder

Managing Binge Eating

There are things you can take to limit or avoid binge eating episodes in addition to receiving the proper therapy and outside assistance.

  • Be aware of your hunger. People sometimes overeat when they get too hungry. Recognize your hunger signals and concentrate on having a balanced meal or snack before you feel too hungry.
  • Take binge foods out of the house. Get rid of foods that are aware are more likely to cause a binge-eating episode, and steer clear of having them around your home.
  • Concentrate on your meal. Avoid eating when you are preoccupied with a TV show, movie, book, or another pastime. Disconnect from your electronics and treat eating like a different activity.
  • Maintain a food diary. It might be helpful to track patterns by keeping a food journal. Take note of your emotions since they often lead to overeating or binge eating.
  • Avoid becoming bored. When you’re bored, you’re far more prone to overeat, so find methods to keep yourself occupied with pleasurable and valuable activities.

You may get assistance from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline by calling 1-800-931-2237 if you or a loved one are dealing with an eating problem.

Visit our National Helpline Database for additional information on mental health resources.

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