Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are one of the most undiscussed and under-valued disorder around. The amount of shame, denial, and confusion on what constitutes an eating disorder makes some suffer in silence. A good place to start to be familiar with them it to take a look at the most common one, binge eating disorder.

What is Binge Eating Disorder

Bing Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious yet treatable eating disorder. It is characterized by compulsive eating of large quantities of food while feeling unable to stop. This usually happens very quickly and reaches a point of discomfort. Also, it is one of the newest eating disorders to be formally recognized. However, it has been around for a long time. Binge eating usually occurs in episodes, where someone will binge for an extended period of time. The average is a minimum of twice per week for up to six months. 

While everyone has the tendency to eat a lot at some sittings, BED is a compulsion to not be able to stop eating. However, it isn’t just the physical healthy risks that are a problem. Binge eating disorder comes with some serious emotional tolls. People can experience shame, guilt, depression, distress, and many more. And because BED has recently been accepted as an official diagnosis, there is much to be learned and discovered. 

Overeating or Binge Definition

To clarify, “binge” literally means a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess, especially drinking alcohol or eating. Overeating is incredibly similar, just relating specifically to food. It is important to see the part that mentions excess. With Binge Eating Disorder, excess of food to the level of binging can cause serious problems. Thankfully, there are some ways to identify if this relates to you which will leave you to recovery.

Other Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Known more commonly as anorexia, this is probably the most well known eating disorder. People who suffer from this generally think they are overweight, even if they are incredibly underweight. They monitor their weight, watch very closely what they eat, and avoid certain foods. Often, there is also a very strong connection between body image and self-esteem.

Bulimia Nervosa

Known as bulimia, this disorder causes people to usually eat to the point of discomfort and then attempt to purge their body of the food. This and binge-eating disorder are often co-occuring disorders. People with bulimia often eat a lot of food in one sitting. After, they will purge using behaviors such as forced vomiting, fasting, laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and excessive exercise. 


Pica is another very newly recognized eating disorder. People with pica have cravings for non-food substances such as dirt, ice, chalk, paper, hair, cornstarch, soap, and a number of other things. It has risks of poisoning, infections, and nutrition deficiencies.

Rumination Disorder

Also a new disorder, people with rumination will regurtitate food they chewed and swallowed, re-chew it and either re-swallow or spit it out. This often occurs within 30 minutes after eating a meal. It can affect infants to adults, and can contribute to weight issues.  

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

Generally speaking, most people with BED are overweight or obese. However, people with normal body types can also suffer from compulsive overeating. In fact, symptoms from BED can be both physical and emotional, and can be categorized in such a way.

Here are some other symptoms to look for in help recognizing binge eating disorder:


  • Inability to control how much you are eating or stop eating
  • Very quickly eating a large amount of food
  • Continuing to eat even when you are full
  • Keeping/storing food secretly so you can eat it later
  • Attempting to eat normally with others but binging when you’re alone
  • Constantly eating, and not planning for meals


  • Stress or tension in you that can only be relieved by eating
  • Feelings of embarrassment and shame for how much you eat
  • Lack of feeling/emotional numbness when you are binging
  • Never feeling like you have eaten enough
  • Feelings of guilt, depression, or self-disgust given how much food you’ve had
  • A strong desire to control both diet and what you’re eating

BED can have more serious effects on your body as well. It can be connected to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, insomnia, hypertensions, depression, anxiety, and others. Not only does BED affect your body, it has the potential to affect your emotional state. However, if you can accept you feel this way, it is the step needed to move past it. Because it is treatable!

How To Stop Binge Eating

While there are ways to treat binge eating disorder, there is no magical cure. A big part of this is a desire to change your lifestyle. Taking control of your cravings, finding healthier relationships with food, and finding other ways to feed your feelings will all help. Many people have overcome it in their own ways. However, binge eating is a serious issue that can cause other health issues.. Getting an medical help is ideal for helping you through BED.  


There are some medications available which have been seen to help those with binge eating disorder. These medications are stimulants which are there to control hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Ask your doctor if any of these might be right for you:


Other common medications used to treat eating disorders include Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, and Wellbutrin


Reaching out to a therapist is a great option. With cognitive-behavioral therapy, you can learn how your thoughts and emotions influence your behavior. Helping understand the forces behind binge eating will certainly help begin change. 

Since binge eating can be a vicious cycle, getting help understanding the importance of your thoughts and emotions is the first step to controlling your own life. Making sure you can have a healthy relationship with food and your diet are key. Seeing a therapist will allow you to discover what thoughts and behaviors contribute to BED. From there, working with a therapist to work through them will help tremendously. 


NEDA stands for the National Eating Disorder Association. With a help-hotline and a plethora of information, they provide a safe space for people with eating disorders to learn about and discuss their disorders.  They also offer information about resources, help, and communicating with others about their eating disorders. There is a whole team of people hoping to help

Support Groups

Finding people with are dealing with the same compulsive eating habits as you will get you feeling like you aren’t so alone. While BED can cause someone to feel depressed, alone, and out of control, support groups offer condolences in knowing that you aren’t alone. Many people are suffering from the disorder and ones similar to it. It is a mental health issue that has strength in numbers.

Eating Disorder Statistics

Sometimes eating disorders go unspoken. There is a good chance it could be very personal, difficult to deal with, and they are still be introduced and explored to this day. Here are some statistics from ANAD regarding eating disorders.

  • At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. 
  • Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • Binge Eating Disorder usually starts during late adolescence or in the early twenties.
  • The most common eating disorder in the United States is binge eating disorder (BED). It is estimated that 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30% to 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder.

Truth Behind The Stats

However, statistics for eating disorders seem to be a bit unreliable. Many people are so embarrassed, ashamed, or guilty about their disorder that they will never come forward with it. On top of that, eating disorders come in so many varieties and severities that it is difficult to tell sometimes how close the statistic is of the actual representation.

Binge Eating Disorder: Final Thoughts

BED can be a difficult thing to nail down. With many different symptoms, people have to deal with both emotional and physical damage done from overeating. It can affect everyday life, and might affect people you don’t even know have an eating disorder. It is important to take it seriously. 

And while it still hides from the public eye, there are plenty of resources out there for someone wanting to treat binge eating disorder. 

Start by being good to yourself, be confident, believe you are able to overcome this disorder. Make sure you do the proper steps however. Seek medical help You can chose to life, and eat, the way you want!




author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
Scroll to Top