Binge Eating Disorder is a serious mental illness characterised by regular episodes of binge eating. A person with Binge Eating Disorder will not use compensatory behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting or over-exercising after binge eating.
Many people with Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese.
What is binge eating?
Binge eating involves two key features:
- Eating a very large amount of food within a relatively short period of time (e.g. within two hours)
- Feeling a sense of loss of control while eating (e.g. feeling unable to stop yourself from eating)
Binge Eating Disorder can occur in people of all ages and genders, across all socio-economic groups, and from any cultural background. Equal numbers of males and females experience Binge Eating Disorder.
Defining Binge Eating Disorder
Frequent episodes of binge eating
A person with Binge Eating Disorder will repeatedly engage in binge eating episodes where they eat a large amount of food in a short period of time. During these episodes they will feel a loss of control over their eating and may not be able to stop even if they want to.
A person with Binge Eating Disorder will often have a range of identifiable eating habits. These can include eating very quickly, eating when they are not physically hungry and continuing to eat even when they are full, to the point that they feel uncomfortable.
Feelings around food
Feelings of guilt and shame are highly prevalent in people with Binge Eating Disorder. People with Binge Eating Disorder often feel guilty or ashamed about the amount, and the way they eat during a binge eating episode. Binge eating often occurs at times of stress, anger, boredom or distress. At such times, binge eating is used as a way to cope with challenging emotions.
Behaviours around food
Because of their feelings around food, people with Binge Eating Disorder are often very secretive about their eating habits and choose to eat alone.
What are the risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder?
The risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder are severe. People with Binge Eating Disorder may experience:
- Osteoarthritis – a painful form of degenerative arthritis in which a person’s joints degrade in quality and can lead to loss of cartilage
- Chronic kidney problems or kidney failure
- High blood pressure and/or high cholesterol leading to increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease
What are the warning signs of Binge Eating Disorder?
Having awareness about Binge Eating Disorder and its warning signs and symptoms can make a marked difference to the severity and duration of the illness. Seeking help at the first warning sign is much more effective than waiting until the illness is in full swing. If you or someone you know is exhibiting some or a combination of these signs it is vital to seek help and support as soon as possible.
The warning signs of Binge Eating Disorder can be physical, psychological and behavioural. It is possible for someone with Binge Eating Disorder to display a combination of these symptoms.
Find out more about the warning signs