Binge eating is an eating disorder where a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis. People who binge consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time. Binge eating usually takes place in private with the person feeling that they have no control over their eating. Those with BED do not get rid of the calories consumed resulting in BED often being linked with obesity. Individuals with BED will often have feelings of guilt or disgust after binge eating. These feelings highlight underlying psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Anyone can be affected by binge eating. Unlike anorexia where more women than men are affected, binge eating affects men and women equally.
The symptoms of binge eating disorder usually begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after an episode of dieting. A binge eating episode typically lasts about two hours, but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves rapidly while barely registering what they’re eating.
Behavioural symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating:
• Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
• Rapidly eating large amounts of food
• Eating even when you’re full
• Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
• Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone
• Eating continuously throughout the day
Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating:
• Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
• Embarrassment over the amount of food consumed
• Feeling numb while bingeing—such as eating automatically
• Never feeling satisfied, no matter the amount eaten
• Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after eating
Binge eating is a treatable condition. Effective treatment for binge eating disorder needs to target both the physiological and the emotional triggers as well as the underlying causes. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is known to be the most effective treatment for binge eating disorder. Often this is recommended alongside an antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).