Binge eating is a type of eating disorder characterized by consuming a large quantity of food in a short period of time, often even when the person isn’t feeling hungry. People with this disorder often feel a lack of control over their eating. They may eat more rapidly than usual, eat until feeling uncomfortably full, eat large amounts of food when not physically hungry, and feel distressed, ashamed, or guilty after overeating. Unlike bulimia, binge eating episodes are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. It is important to note that this is a serious condition and requires professional medical help for treatment.

Binge Eating Disorder

Causes of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder is characterized by regular episodes of consuming large amounts of food, often very quickly and to the point of discomfort. It may involve a feeling of a lack of control during the binges. The exact cause of binge eating disorder is still unknown, but several factors are thought to contribute to its development:

1. Genetics: Some studies have suggested that binge eating disorder may be related to genes that affect hormone functions in the brain, leading to increased appetite and less control over food intake.

2. Emotional and psychological factors: High levels of stress, anxiety, or depression can trigger periods of binge eating. Difficulty handling emotions or negative feelings can also result in binging.

3. Family history: Binge eating disorder appears to run in families, suggesting genetics may play a role. Families also have a strong influence on a person’s relationship with food and views on body image.

4. Sociocultural influences: Society’s emphasis on thinness and beauty can lead to body dissatisfaction and distorted body image, particularly among women. This can result in binge eating.

5. Dieting: Extreme dieting may lead to a cycle of restriction and then overeating, leading to an unhealthy pattern of behavior.

6. Psychological Disorders: Other mental health disorders like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can co-occur and contribute to binge eating behaviors.

Always remember that the causes of binge eating are complex and multifactorial, involving both genetics and environmental factors. If you or someone you know is struggling with binge eating, it’s important to seek professional help. It’s a treatable condition, often involving cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and sometimes medication.

Risk Factors of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder is a serious eating disorder where you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. There are several risk factors that can lead to the development of this disorder:

1. Family History: If you have a first degree relative – a parent, sibling, or child – who has an eating disorder, you are more likely to develop one as well.

2. Psychological Issues: Many people with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, but they often have a distorted body image, low self-esteem, or suffer from anxiety or depression.

3. Personal History: Those who have a history of dieting may have increased risk of binge eating. Fasting or restrictive diets can lead to an urge to overeat.

4. Age: Binge eating disorder can occur at any age but is more common in young adulthood.

5. Gender: Women are slightly more likely to develop binge eating disorder than men.

6. Emotional Trauma: Stressful life events such as abuse, death of a loved one, or trauma can increase the risk of binge eating.

7. Disorders: Those with certain behavioral and emotional disorders, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are more susceptible.

8. Substance abuse: People with binge eating disorder may have a history of alcohol or drug abuse.

As with any mental health condition, the exact cause of binge eating disorder is not known, but it’s likely a combination of genetics, biological factors, long-term dieting and psychological issues. Binge eating disorder is also associated with increased risk for physical health complications, such as digestive problems, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder is a serious eating disorder where an individual frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food and feels unable to stop eating. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms:

1. Eating large amounts of food: People with binge eating disorder typically eat unusually large amounts of food in relatively short periods of time.

2. Loss of control: During binge episodes, they often feel that they can’t control how much they’re eating and can’t stop even if they want to.

3. Eating until uncomfortably full: They may continue to eat even when they’re not hungry and until they’re uncomfortably or even painfully full.

4. Eating rapidly: During binge episodes, they may eat more rapidly than normal.

5. Eating alone: Due to feeling embarrassed by how much they’re eating, they may often binge in secret or when they’re alone.

6. Feelings of distress: They might feel extremely distressed, upset, or guilty during or after binge eating.

7. No purging: Unlike bulimia nervosa, those with binge eating disorder do not regularly use unhealthy compensatory measures (like purging) to counter their binge eating.

8. Health problems: Binge eating can lead to a range of physical health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional. Binge eating disorder is a serious condition, but with the right treatment and support, it can be successfully managed.

Diagnosis Binge eating

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (like purging) to counter the binge eating.

People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but feel like they can’t.

For a diagnosis of binge eating disorder, binge-eating episodes must occur at least once a week for three months on average. Furthermore, the episodes are not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors as in bulimia nervosa and do not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Despite the prevalence of this disorder, binge eating disorder was only officially recognized as a formal diagnosis in the psychiatric field’s diagnostic manual (DSM-5) in 2013.

Please consult a healthcare professional if you suspect that you or someone you know may have binge eating disorder. It’s essential to get professional help since it’s unlikely that the disorder will go away without treatment. Many people with binge eating disorder have weight problems but some are of normal weight. Treatment can save lives and dramatically increase the quality of life.

Treatment of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder (BED) treatment includes both psychological and medical approaches. It’s significant to note that anyone struggling with this disorder should receive professional help, as it’s challenging to overcome on one’s own.

Here are some methods that are commonly used:

1. Psychotherapy:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps patients understand and change thought patterns leading to harmful behaviors.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): It focuses on the patient’s current relationships with other people with the goal of improving interpersonal skills.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): It teaches behavioral skills to help handle stress, manage emotions, and improve relationships.

2. Medication:
The FDA has approved lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) specifically for the treatment of BED. Antidepressants or anti-seizure medications might also be prescribed.

3. Nutrition counseling: This type of treatment involves a dietician providing guidance and recommendation for healthy eating practices and regular meals to promote a balanced diet.

4. Self-help strategies: Improving diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can also be beneficial.

5. Support groups: These are useful in providing encouragement in a group setting from people who are or have been through similar experiences.

6. Weight-loss therapy: If BED has led to obesity, weight loss therapy might be required.

7. Mindfulness-based approaches: These teach patients to pay attention to their feelings of hunger and fullness, aiming to improve their relationship with food.

Remember, everyone is different, and what works best will depend on the individual’s specific needs and situation. Long-term success greatly depends upon an individualized, multi-disciplinary approach. A healthcare provider or a team including a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a primary care doctor can determine the most suitable treatment plan.

Lastly, inpatient care or hospitalization is recommended if the person has seriously overeaten, become severely depressed or suicidal, or if binge eating has led to a medical crisis.

Medications commonly used for Binge eating

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, often very quickly and to the point of discomfort. There are several medications that are commonly used to help manage this disorder:

1. Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse): Vyvanse is the only medication that the FDA has approved specifically for the treatment of binge eating disorder. This medication is usually used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but is also effective in reducing the number of binge eating days in those with BED.

2. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs like fluoxetine (Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro) have been shown to help some people reduce their binge eating behaviors. These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood and can reduce the desire to binge eat.

3. Antiepileptic Drugs: Certain antiepileptic drugs, such as topiramate (Topamax), can also be used to treat binge eating disorder. These drugs work by decreasing the frequency of nerve signals, which can help to control the impulses that lead to binge eating.

4. Anti-obesity medications: These include drugs like lorcaserin (Belviq) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia). These drugs work by curbing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness, which can help individuals limit their food intake.

Remember that while these medications can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan, they are usually most effective when combined with other forms of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or nutritional counseling. It’s important to discuss all your treatment options with your healthcare provider to find the best plan for you.

Prevention of Binge eating

Binge eating prevention typically involves managing stress, making healthy eating choices, maintaining regular eating habits, and seeking professional help if necessary. Here are some ways to prevent binge eating:

1. Eat Regularly: Skipping meals can lead to overeating. Maintain a regular eating schedule, typically three meals a day, along with healthy snacks in between.

2. Healthy Nutrition: Make healthy food choices and try to avoid keeping junk food in your house. Choose foods high in fiber like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which can make you feel full and satisfied.

3. Practice Mindful Eating: Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. This can help you enjoy your meal and feel more satisfied.

4. Exercise Regularly: Physical activity can help regulate your mood, reduce stress, and help you stay at a healthful weight.

5. Manage Stress: High levels of stress and anxiety often lead to binge eating episodes. Techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help to manage stress levels.

6. Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol can often lead to binge eating, so it’s best to avoid it if you’re prone to binge eating.

7. Get Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep can increase hunger and appetite, leading to overeating. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

8. Seek Help: If you find that you can’t manage binge eating on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are all proven treatments for binge eating.

Remember, everyone has different triggers for binge eating, and it can be useful to identify your personal triggers and develop strategies to avoid them.

FAQ’s about Binge eating

1. What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by periods of excessive eating or consuming large amounts of food, often very quickly and to the point of discomfort. It’s typically marked by feelings of loss of control and is often followed by feelings of guilt or shame.

2. Who is at risk for BED?
While BED can affect anyone of any age, it most often starts in the late teens or early 20s, and is slightly more common in women. Other risk factors include a family history of eating disorders, dieting, mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, and experiencing critical comments about body shape or weight.

3. What are some signs and symptoms of BED?
Signs and symptoms include consuming large amounts of food even when you’re not hungry, eating until uncomfortably full, eating alone because of embarrassment, feeling distressed or guilty about overeating, and recurrent episodes of binge eating.

4. How is BED diagnosed?
A healthcare professional can diagnose BED based on standard criteria, such as a recurring pattern of binge eating and feelings of loss of control over eating behavior. They may also ask about eating habits, exercise habits, and perception of body size.

5. What are the health risks associated with BED?
Those with BED are more likely to be overweight or obese, which can increase their risk for medical complications like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It can also lead to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.

6. What treatment options are available?
Treatment often includes a combination of psychotherapy (like cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy), medication, and a structured eating plan. Group and family therapy can also be helpful.

7. Is BED the same as overeating?
While both involve consuming large amounts of food, overeating is an occasional occurrence, such as eating too much during a holiday meal. BED, on the other hand, is chronic and involves more intense feelings of distress, guilt, and loss of control.

8. Can BED be cured?
Yes, with appropriate treatment and support, individuals can overcome BED and lead healthful, balanced lives.

9. How can I support someone with BED?
Show understanding, support, and encouragement. Avoid placing guilt or shame on the person. Encourage them to seek help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional.

10. How can I prevent BED?
While there’s no surefire way to prevent BED, maintaining a balanced and positive relationship with food, focusing on body positivity, and receiving treatment for any mental health issues can reduce the risk. It’s also helpful to seek help early if you start to notice symptoms.

Useful links

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder in which a person frequently consumes large amounts of food quickly, often to the point of discomfort, while feeling out of control and guilty. This eating behavior doesn’t include the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.

Here are some useful journals related to Binge eating disorder:


Remember, these are scientific articles and thus are presented with a significant amount of detail and complexity. Please consult with a healthcare professional for understanding specific medical details.

Complications of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder has several short-term and long-term complications that can be both physical and psychological.

1. Physical Health Complications:
Obesity: Binge eating often results in weight gain and obesity, which come with their own set of health risks, such as heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, and certain types of cancer.
Diabetes: Due to high calorie intake and obesity, binge eaters are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
Digestive Issues: Overeating can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other digestive problems.

Binge Eating Disorder

2. Mental Health Complications:
Depression: There is a high co-occurrence of binge eating disorder and mood disorders such as depression.
Anxiety: Eating disorders and anxiety disorders often go hand in hand. People may binge eat to cope with stress, fear, or other feelings of anxiety.
Low Self-Estee: Regular binge eating can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, which can lower self-esteem.

3. Social and Lifestyle Complications:
Social Isolation: People with binge eating disorder often feel embarrassed about their eating habits, which can cause them to withdraw from social activities.
Difficulty Functioning: The guilt, embarrassment, and physical discomfort associated with binge eating can interfere with a person’s ability to function at work or in other aspects of their life.

4. Other Complications:
Substance Abuse: Some people with binge eating disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings of guilt or shame.

These are just a few complications associated with binge eating. It is a serious condition that not only affects physical health but also mental and emotional wellbeing. Reaching out to a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment is a crucial step towards recovery.

Home remedies of Binge eating

Binge eating disorder is a serious condition that requires medical attention. However, there are certain home remedies and lifestyle changes that can support treatment. Remember, these remedies do not replace professional help, but can assist in managing the disorder. Here are some:

1. Mindful Eating: Paying close attention to what and when you are eating can help break the cycle of binge eating. It involves eating slowly, savoring each bite and understanding the true signals of hunger and fullness.

2. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy body image and improve mood, which are both important for preventing binge episodes.

3. Healthy Diet: Try to maintain a balanced diet, inclusive of all food groups. This can help you avoid craving certain foods excessively.

4. Adequate Sleep: Poor sleep can interfere with your body’s hunger hormones and can lead to increased food cravings and overeating.

5. De-stress: Regularly practicing stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help manage the urge to binge eat.

6. Support Network: Having regular meals with your friends and family, sharing your experiences with a support group, or joining a self-help group can have a positive effect.

7. Setting Eating Schedule: Keeping a consistent eating pattern can prevent the urge to binge eat. With regular, planned meals and snacks, you can manage hunger and reduce the desire to binge eat.

8. Keep a Food Diary: Recording what you eat, when you eat, and your hunger levels can help identify patterns and triggers, allowing you to take control over your eating habits.

9. Water Intake: Staying hydrated can often help control excessive eating and control appetite.

Remember, these steps help manage symptoms but do not replace professional help. It’s important to seek professional medical advice if you think you are dealing with binge eating disorder. Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and medication are recognized treatments for this disorder.

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Last Update: January 6, 2024