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What Is Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

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Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Symptoms & Signs

It’s hard to know how many people may binge eat. Because people often feel guilty or embarrassed about out-of-control eating, many don’t talk about it or get help.

Because of these feelings, many people don’t get treatment for binge eating until they’re older. But getting help early makes it more likely that a person can get better before it causes health problems related to weight gain.

People with binge disorders are best treated by a team that includes a doctor, dietitian, and therapist. Treatment includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and talk therapy . The doctor might prescribe medicine to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.

If you binge eat, these tips can help:

  • Don’t skip meals. You are more likely to overeat if you get too hungry.
  • Practice mindful eating. Pay attention to what you eat and notice when you feel full.
  • Identify triggers. Make a plan for how you can avoid or manage things that trigger bingeing.
  • Be active. Regular exercise can feel good and help you manage your weight.
  • Find ways to cope with strong feelings. Express yourself through music, art, dance, or writing. Talk to a friend or trusted adult, or try yoga, meditation, or taking a couple of deep breaths to relax.

You may find that it helps to surround yourself with supportive family members and friends. It’s best to avoid people who make negative comments about eating or weight because they can make you feel worse.

What Is Binge Eating

If you ever ate so much at Thanksgiving that you felt uncomfortable, you know what it feels like to overeat. It’s not unusual to overeat from time to time. Most people do.

But binge eating is different from eating too much during the holidays. People with a binge eating problem regularly eat much more food than most people. They often eat quickly, eat when they are stressed or upset , and feel like they can’t stop eating, even when they’re uncomfortably full. They also binge at least once a week for several months.

As a result, they might feel guilty, ashamed, or bad about themselves after a binge. Many people who binge eat are overweight. But those at a healthy weight can also have a binge eating disorder. Binge eating is different from bulimia, another eating disorder. People with bulimia binge eat, but try to make up for overeating by throwing up, using laxatives, or over-exercising to lose weight.

Binge eating is often a mixed-up way of dealing with or avoiding difficult emotions. Usually, people who binge eat aren’t aware of what’s driving them to overeat. They usually are unhappy about their weight, may have large weight swings, and often feel depressed.

The Importance Of Deciding Not To Diet

After a binge, its only natural to feel the need to diet to compensate for overeating and to get back on track with your health. But dieting usually backfires. The deprivation and hunger that comes with strict dieting triggers food cravings and the urge to overeat.

Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning or restricting certain foods, as this can make you crave them even more. Instead of saying I can never eat ice cream, say I will eat ice cream as an occasional treat.

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Unscientific Mental Health Training

Some observers perceive a gap between scientific theory and its applicationâin particular, the application of unsupported or unsound clinical practices. Critics say there has been an increase in the number of mental health training programs that do not instill scientific competence. Practices such as ” for infantile autism” memory-recovery techniques including and other therapies, such as and , may be dubious or even dangerous, despite their popularity. These practices, however, are outside the mainstream practices taught in clinical psychology doctoral programs.

Behavioral Symptoms Of Binge Eating And Compulsive Overeating

  • Inability to stop eating or control what youre eating.
  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food.
  • Eating even when youre full.
  • Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret.
  • Eating normally around others, but gorging when youre alone.
  • Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes.

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Causes And Risk Factors Of Binge Eating Disorder

The exact cause of BED isnt known, but experts believe that genetics, biological factors, dieting habits, and psychological issues may determine a persons risk.

As with all eating disorders, many factors play a role to different degrees in different patients. These factors include:

  • A History of Dieting Binge eating is paradoxical: A person diets hoping to achieve the cultural ideal of thinness and then punishes his or herself for failing to achieve that ideal by eating even more, note the Mayo Clinic.
  • Family History Like most psychiatric disorders, BED tends to occur in families. That means that if your parent or grandparent had the disorder, youre more likely to have it, too.
  • Mood Disorders Depression and anxiety have been linked to binge eating disorder, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Tendencies
  • Trauma This might include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
  • Food Insecurity This means a fear of not having enough food. Whether due to poverty, per a study published in April 2018 in the Journal of Crohns and Colitis,others controlling what you eat, or a medical condition that requires a restrictive diet such as type 1 and 2 diabetes, celiac disease, and Crohns disease food insecurity can contribute to binges, noted a study published in June 2017 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

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Tip : Find Better Ways To Feed Your Feelings

One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is very fleeting.

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Bed Research: What Do We Know

Since Binge Eating Disorder was first mentioned in the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987, research on BED has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. In fact, in 2013, BED was added to the latest, fifth edition, of the DSM as its own diagnosis.

Risk Factors For Binge Eating

Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment, & How to Stop | Denver, CO

Many people with a binge-eating disorder develop it in early adulthood. Most women, for example, develop it between ages 18 and 29. Though an estimated 1.6% of teenagers also have it, according to a study published in 2011 in the Archives of General Psychiatry, that examined over 10,000 adolescents.

In addition to age, “having lots of diet trauma and drama, like having been on and off and on and off diets, makes you more susceptible to having binge eating disorder,” says Carmel.

For more risk factors, a review of multiple scientific studies published in Psychiatry Research in 2014, found the following increased a person’s likelihood of binge-eating disorder:

  • Severe childhood obesity
  • A family history of overeating, which suggests there may be a genetic component to binge eating disorder
  • Being bullied and teased about your body shape, weight, or eating habits
  • Abuse of other substances besides food, like drugs and alcohol

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Treatment Of Binge Eating Disorder

Treatment for binge eating disorder needs to address both your physical and mental health. Early treatment is the best way to help you towards a full recovery. The journey can be difficult, but you can get there with the right help and commitment.A GP with experience supporting people with eating disorders can be a good first point of contact. Once binge eating disorder is diagnosed, your doctor will assemble a team of healthcare professionals who will be best suited to help you. The types of healthcare professional who might be involved include:

  • a psychiatrist
  • a family therapist
  • a social worker.

There are a range of psychological treatments available to treat eating disorders. Cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal therapy are the two treatments of choice for binge eating disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Treatment for BED can be crucial in reducing the lifetime prevalence of the disorder, that is, reducing the likelihood one will struggle with BED behaviors for their lifetime.

As with most eating disorders, the number one, evidence-based treatment recommended is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy . One study notes that CBT has higher abstinence, is well-tolerated, and maintains remission for 1 or 2 years . CBT focuses on the impact that beliefs and thoughts have on subsequent feelings and behaviors, encouraging individuals to alter their core beliefs and thoughts in a way that then alters their behaviors.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is also recommended, as it was created for individuals that struggle with emotion regulation, which is also correlated with BED. DBT focuses on how one can regulate their emotional states, tolerate distress, exist within the present moment, and communicate needs to others. All of these skills work effectively to reduce BED symptoms as well as the symptoms of disorders that often co-occur with BED.

Regardless of the theoretical orientation to treatment, the key is to receive treatment at all. Of course, be a conscious consumer and do not be afraid to ask your treatment team if they are using the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatments and, if they are not, why they are not. Even so, the likelihood of individual achieving remission of BED symptoms and recovery increases with any type of mental health treatment.

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When Should Treatment Be Sought

Since many of the symptoms of binge eating disorder can be difficult to see, or may not initially present, treatment at an eating disorder treatment center should be sought even if only some of the above symptoms have been observed. While overindulgence can be common, persistent occasions of over consumption should be considered a possible sign. If observed, it is important to research treatment options and begin on the path to binge eating disorder recovery.

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How Is Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosed

Binge Eating Disorder

Your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. It may be difficult to talk to a doctor or nurse about secret eating behaviors. But doctors and nurses want to help you be healthy. Being honest about your eating behaviors with a doctor or nurse is a good way to ask for help.

Your doctor may also do blood, urine, or other tests for other health problems, such as heart problems or gallbladder disease, that can be caused by binge eating disorder.

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Why Do Some People Binge Eat

Experts don’t know the exact cause of binge eating disorder. It’s likely a combination of things, including genetics, family eating habits, emotions, and eating behavior, like skipping meals. Some people use food as a way to soothe themselves or to cope with difficult feelings.

People with binge eating disorder are more likely to have other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder , and ADHD.

Binge Eating Recovery Tip : Develop A Healthier Relationship With Food

Recovery from any addiction is challenging, but it can be especially difficult to overcome binge eating and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your drug is necessary for survival, so you dont have the option of avoiding or replacing it. Instead, you need to develop a healthier relationship with fooda relationship thats based on meeting your nutritional needs, not your emotional ones. To do this, you have to break the binge eating cycle by:

Avoiding temptation. Youre much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.

Listening to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and dont have a rumbling stomach, youre probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.

Eating regularly. Dont wait until youre starving. This only leads to overeating! Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.

Not avoiding fat. Contrary to what you might think, dietary fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight. Try to incorporate healthy fat at each meal to keep you feeling satisfied and full.

Fighting boredom. Instead of snacking when youre bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder

The signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Feeling out-of-control during binges Eating
  • when youre not hungry feeling disgusted with yourself after binges
  • Avoiding social situations where food might be present
  • Secretly eating foods that you wouldnt normally eat
  • Overeating even when you are full
  • Experiencing physical problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and cholesterol levels
  • Having low self-esteem or feeling ashamed of your eating habits
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Trying to diet but not being able to stick with it

If you think you may have a binge eating disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional. Treatment for binge eating disorder usually includes therapy and lifestyle changes. With treatment, most people are able to overcome binge eating disorders and improve their health and quality of life.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder And What Are The Symptoms

Binge Eating Disorder/Signs and Symptoms

People with BED may eat a lot of food in a short amount of time, even if they arent hungry. Emotional stress or destress often plays a role and might trigger a period of binge eating.

A person might feel a sense of release or relief during a binge but experience feelings of shame or loss of control afterward .

For a healthcare professional to diagnose BED, three or more of the following symptoms must be present:

  • eating much more rapidly than normal
  • eating until uncomfortably full
  • eating large amounts without feeling hungry
  • eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment and shame
  • feelings of guilt or disgust with oneself

People with BED often experience feelings of extreme unhappiness and distress about their overeating, body shape, and weight (1,

  • 8 ).

An episode of binge eating can be triggered by stress, dieting, negative feelings relating to body weight or body shape, the availability of food, or boredom .


The causes of BED are not fully known. As with other eating disorders, a variety of genetic, environmental, social, and psychological risks are associated with its development.

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Anxiety Depression & Other Co

78.9% of those with BED experience a co-occurring diagnosis, as BED behaviors can be a maladaptive coping skill or increase symptoms of other mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Anxiety Disorders: Many individuals that struggle with clinical anxiety present with disordered relationships to food. This could be a result of using food to cope with emotional dysregulation. It is also likely that the opposite is true and that the shame, guilt, secrecy, and feelings of loss of control that occur with binge eating result in increased anxiety symptoms.

Mood Disorders: Mood disorders, such as Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder, are experienced by 46.4% of those with a BED diagnosis. This is unsurprising, as, similar to anxiety disorders, many individuals seek to cope with uncomfortable emotional states using food. This correlation may also occur due to an individuals self-view and self-worth being impacted by their binge eating behaviors. Binge eating episodes can also lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair as one feels they cannot control their behaviors.

Other Co-Occurring Diagnosis: The relationship between BED and other diagnoses are similar to those with mood and anxiety disorders, with the disorders fueling one another. Some other disorders that commonly co-occur with BED include impulse control disorders and substance use disorders.

Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse

With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among any other psychiatric illness, the focus and attention given towards prevention and treatment is absolutely essential. However, sometimes overshadowed is the equally devastating Binge Eating Disorder, also classified as a major eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in May of 2013. Learn more about the devastating effects of BED while at college here.

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Physical Signs And Effects Of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder affects the mind and body in a multitude of ways:

  • Brain preoccupation with food and weight, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, disrupted sleep
  • Mouth erosion of dental enamel, swollen jaw, bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay
  • Throat/oesophagus chronic sore throat, indigestion, heartburn, reflux, inflamed or rupture of oesophagus
  • Heart irregular or slow heartbeat, cardiac arrest, heart failure, low blood pressure, fainting, dizziness
  • Stomach and intestines ulcers, pain, stomach rupture, bowel problems, constipation, diarrhoea, cramps, bloating
  • Hormones irregular or absent periods, loss of libido, infertility
  • Kidneys dehydration
  • Skin calluses on knuckles, dry skin
  • Muscles fatigue, cramps caused by electrolyte imbalance, tiredness, lethargy
  • Weight fluctuating weight or weight gain

It’s Not Just Overeating

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) : Symptoms and Signs Of Binge ...

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 an ongoing psychological problem. You might have it if you eat a very large amount of food — more than other people would eat — in a short amount of time at least 1 day a week for 3 months.

Other signs of BED include:

  • Secret behavior:You binge when you’re alone. This may be late at night or in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. You may “get rid of the evidence” and hide wrappers or food containers.
  • Food hoarding:You may stockpile bags of chips or cookies in your closet or under your bed.
  • Lack of control:You have no power over 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, over-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.

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