Binge Eating Disorder

What is binge eating disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a recognised eating disorder in which a person, due to underlying issues and other risk factors, develops a pattern of binge eating which they come to rely on a a way of coping. In the same way as someone with anorexia and bulimia, the person with binge eating disorder feels compelled to continue with the disordered eating, i.e. binge eating, as a way of coping with emotional turmoil. It must be recognised that as with the other eating disorders, a person diagnosed with binge eating disorder cannot be treated by diet alone. All the eating disorders are serious mental disorders which require timely and appropriate treatment and support.

Core features

characterised by:

  1. Repeated episodes of binge eating
  2. A sense of a lack of control over eating during the episode (a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)

Binge episodes may be underlined by the following:

– Eating much more rapidly than normal
– Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
– Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
– Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
– Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Periods of binge eating or overeating.

The person affected by binge eating disorder may diet frequently, however they will not engage in purging behaviour (getting rid of food) after a binge. Over time this can, but may not always, result in significant weight gain.

Binges almost always occur in secret, and an appearance of ‘normal’ eating is often maintained in front of others. The food that is eaten is usually filling and high in calories. It tends to be food that people regard as fattening, and which they are attempting to exclude from their diet. The food is usually consumed very quickly, and is seldom tasted or enjoyed.

While in binge eating disorder there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets, and often feelings of shame or self-hatred surface after a binge.

A person affected by binge eating disorder may find themselves trapped in a cycle of dieting, binging, self-recrimination and self-loathing. They can feel particularly isolated which can contribute to the prolonging of their experience.

Binge eating disorder is almost as common among men as it is among women, and is thought to be more common than other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Binge Eating Disorder: Self-help booklet – PDF