Binge Eating Disorder FAQ

Although most people with BED are overweight or obese, binge eating differs from over-eating. There is a greater concern regarding shape and weight with binge eating disorder (BED) and a greater psychiatric comorbidity. As such, there are different treatment approaches to BED than to obesity alone.

Woman holding a plate of desserts.

What is binge eating disorder? (BED)

An essential feature of BED is recurrent episodes of binge eating, at least once per week for 3 months, without recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior typical of bulimia nervosa such as purging food or over exercising.

Large plate of food.

What is a binge?

A binge is defined as eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances. As well, there is a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g. a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

Senior man experiencing nausea.

Symptoms of BED

With BED there is a strong sense of distress after the binge eating episodes. Some typical behaviors include:

     •  Eating abnormally fast

     •  Eating until uncomfortably full

     •  Binging when not hungry

     •  Eating alone due to embarrassment

     •  Feeling disgusted or guilty after binging

What do abnormal eating patterns look like?

There also may be patterns of abnormal eating or unhealthy association with food that includes:

     •  Binge eating

     •  Grazing: compulsive mild overeating

     •  Objective overeating: overeating without loss of control

     •  Subjective overeating: mild-to-moderate overeating with a loss of control

     •  Night eating: mild-to-moderate overeating

     •  Emotional eating: overeating in response to uncomfortable feelings
Happy young women talking in group therapy.

Treatment for BED

The primary treatment goal for binge eating disorder is fewer binge eating episodes. Treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy, as well as medication choices.

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.