Binge Eating Disorder

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often and very quickly to the point of discomfort), a feeling of a loss of control during the binge, experiencing shame, distress and guilt afterwards, and not regularly using unhealthy measures such as purging to counter the binge eating. Binge Eating Disorder is the most common Eating Disorder in the United States.


Generally, people who are experiencing BED, will eat a large amount of food in a short period of time. This amount of food is larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances. Individuals with BED have a lack of control when during the episode and may feel like they cannot stop eating or control what or how much they are eating. On average BED occurs on average at least once a week for 3 months.

Warning Signs & Symptoms

Emotional & Behavioral

· Evidence of binge eating such as disappearance of large amounts of food in a short amount of time, empty wrappers or containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food

· Steals or hoards food in strange places

· Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions

· Withdraws from usual friends and activities

· Shows extreme concern with body weight and shape

· Disruption in normal eating behaviors including eating throughout the day with no planned mealtimes, skipping meals or earing small portions of food at regular mealtimes, and engaging in fasting or repetitive dieting.

· Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten


·  Noticeable fluctuations in weight both up and down

· Gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid re-flux, stomach cramps, etc.)

· Difficulties concentrating

Health Consequences

The health risks of BED are most commonly associated with clinical obesity, weight stigma, and weight cycling (repetitive dieting). Most individuals who are clinically obese do not also have BED. However, 2/3rds of those with BED are also clinically obese. People who struggle with BED tend to be normal or higher-than average weight although BED can be diagnosed at any weight.

How to Help A Loved One

If you are concerned about the eating habits, weight, or body image of someone you care for, we understand that this may be a very difficult time for you and your loved one. Many individuals in recovery from an eating disorder heavily rely on the help and support from friends and family.

How to talk to a loved one about eating concerns

Even if you don’t feel the discussion was well-received, don’t despair. You shared your concern and let them know that you care and are there for them. You may have helped plant a seed that they should seek help which can help them move toward recovery.

Tips for encouraging a loved one to seek professional help

Recovery from an eating disorder requires professional help, and chances are improved the sooner a person begins treatment. Here are some tips to encouraging loved ones to seek help:

What to Expect From Treatment

Getting a diagnosis is the first step in treating an eating disorder. Treatment of an eating disorder usually involves a combination of counseling as well as medical monitoring. Treatment must address the eating disorder symptoms. Many individuals utilize a treatment team to treat their eating disorders. Some common treatment teams include:

Most Physicians will be able to refer you to a local therapist and dietitians/nutritionists who have experience in treating eating disorders. The first step will be to restore normal eating patterns and having the client return to a healthy body weight. Eating Disorder Treatment generally addresses the following factors:

Additional Resources:

Video– Inside the Eating Disordered Mind

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