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Binge Eating Disorder

What Is Binge Eating Disorder or BED?

Binge eating disorder is often recognized by overeating which is a part of compulsive disorder. When patients have this disorder, they consume food in a large quantity and feel like they are helpless and out of control to do anything to stop this from happening. Patients will mostly notice the symptoms begin during the period of late teens or in the adulthood. Patients will start to notice the difference after they have had their meal in a large quantity. For some patients, a binge eating session can go on and off for the whole day while for some it can last up to two hours or more. The patients who suffer from this disorder are so addicted to the idea of eating that they eat even when they do not have an appetite and continue eating even after their stomach is full. They start to stuff themselves with food without having the slightest idea of what they are actually eating and what the food tastes like.

Binge Eating Disorder or BED

The primary aspects of the binge eating disorder are:

  • Out of control binge eating on a regular basis.
  • Throughout and after the binge episode patients feel very anxious and stressed.
  • Unlike the disorder of bulimia, in the binge eating disorder patients do not make any attempts to make up for the episodes by over exercising, vomiting or fasting.

Patients who are diagnosed with the binge eating disorder are often seen struggling with the feelings of misery, self-disgust, and shame. They are bothered by the fact that they have no control over their eating and what harm it will cause their body. The patients frequently think about stopping the binge eating, but feel that they can’t do it.

The Cycle of Binge Eating:

People often seek comfort by binge eating, but that moment does not last for long and soon the hatred for oneself and regrets sets in. In the course of binge eating, people often suffer from obesity and weight gain, but that only strengthens the obsessive consumption of food. The more guilt the binge eater feels for eating and for his facade the more food he consumes to deal with the fact. All this in turns leads to a very depressive cycle of consuming food to feel better, and then feeling worse for eating it, and then once again consuming food for relief.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder or BED

Commonly, it takes an amalgamation of many things to get the binge eating disorder that can comprise of the sentiments, biology and experience of a person.

  • Biological Reasons as a Cause for Binge Eating Disorder: If a person has a genetic-abnormality, it can result in binge eating. For instance, the hypothalamus (the fraction of the brain which controls cravings) might not be sending the accurate signals about the appetite of a person. There are also some researchers, who have found out that a biological alteration or low level of the chemical serotonin can also cause addiction to food.
  • Psychological Reasons For Binge Eating Disorder: There is a strong link between stress and binge eating. There are several binge eaters who have problems dealing with their depression, poor self-confidence or have a trouble in expressing their feelings appropriately.
  • Social Reasons as a Cause for Binge Eating Disorder: At times, binge eating can be the result of social pressure that has been set up by the society. There are many parents who, after an emotional scene comfort their child by rewarding them with food. This could be the start for the binge eating. People who are mostly criticized for their weight or are sexually abused in their childhood often opt for comfort by consuming food in large quantity.

Risk Factors for Binge Eating Disorder or BED

The following factors can boost the risk of developing a binge eating disorder:

  • Weight Loss: Patients who have a history of dieting in their childhood and depression are most likely to get diagnosed with the binge eating disorder.
  • Psychological Issues: Patients who are not satisfied with their outward appearance are more likely to develop this disorder. The patients mostly have a history of depression and stress and don’t have any way of coping with it.
  • Age: The binge eating disorder can strike at any age, but mostly it is seen in the patients in their teens or early 20s.
  • Family History and Biological Factors: Patients who have a family history of eating disorder or if there has been a change in the brain chemicals are more prone to develop this disorder.

Signs and Symptoms for Binge Eating Disorder or BED

In the binge eating disorder, patients are ashamed of their eating and try to hide it. The people who have the disorder are mostly obese or can also have a healthy weight.

General Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Uncontrollable eating
  • Consuming food in large quantity
  • Eating even after having satisfied the appetite
  • Secretly hiding and eating the food
  • Eating ravenously when alone
  • Consuming food without any proper timings.

Emotional Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Relieving their depression by eating
  • Shamed by the quantity of food that is consumed
  • Eating as if they are in an auto-pilot mode
  • Never being content with the quantity of food you consume
  • Feeling self-disgust and hatred after overeating
  • Anxious to get hold on the eating habit.

Binge Eating Disorder in Children

Kids who are in their growing age often consume the large quantity of food, so it is not easy to determine the disorder at that time. However, there are several signs for the binge eating. If the parents find a large quantity of food missing from their fridge, it is usually the first sign.

Other Signs of Binge Eating Disorder in Children Include:

  • Child consuming the food at a fast pace
  • Eating food in response to the stress of rejection
  • Child feeling guilty about the quantity of food consumed
  • Discovering wrappers of food in the room
  • Eating food at unusual times and consuming a lot of junk foods.

The people who binge eat, suffer from guilt, anxiety and depression and are mostly ashamed by their bodily structure.

Tests to Diagnose Binge Eating Disorder or BED

Bulimia is another eating disorder that is similar to the binge eating disorder (BED). However, in binge eating disorder people do not vomit out the food that they have consumed resulting in obesity.

Diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) Involves:

  • Physical examination
  • Examination of the urine and blood
  • Mental health evaluation
  • Evaluation to detect problems with the heart and gallbladder.

Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder or BED

If you are suffering from the binge eating disorder, you can take the help from the medical professionals. They will help you in getting proper treatment for your issue. They have programs set up especially for the patients who are suffering from this disorder. They will help you to cope with all the emotion related issues. All the problems that are related to weight should be duly monitored by an expert.


  1. National Eating Disorders Association. Binge Eating Disorder (BED). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed
  2. Mayo Clinic. Binge-Eating Disorder: Symptoms & Causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353627
  3. Eating Disorder Hope. Coping with Binge Eating Disorder and Recovery Tips. https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/binge-eating-disorder
  4. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders: About More Than Food. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml
  5. Eating Disorder Hope. Can Yoga Help in Treating Eating Disorders? https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/yoga

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 20, 2023

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