Binge Eating Disorder

Unlike over-eating at Christmas dinner or stuffing yourself at the all-you-can-eat buffet, binge eating disorder is a complex problem requiring a complex treatment plan.
Binge eating disorder is defined as episodes of losing control over eating and consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time. CAMH 2012

One reason why this is so difficult to treat is the disorder is not yet fully understood. One fact that is known is that up to 70% of people diagnosed with binge eating disorder also concurrently have another mental health issue; depression, ADHD, etc. According to WebMD, up to 3.5 % of women and 2% of men qualify for a binge eating disorder diagnosis in 2015. Binge eating disorder in some ways is quite similar to bulimia in that people tend to over eat and cannot stop even when they feel full. Similarly too, people who binge eat tend to eat very quickly and feel a lot of shame and guilt about this. The major difference between binge eating disorder and bulimia is that people diagnosed with bulimia will make themselves throw up after eating. This is not the case with binge eating disorder clients.

Research has identified some common behaviours or symptoms of binge eating. These can include:
• Feeling depressed, guilty or disgusted with oneself after binging
• Eating more food than others might in the same situation
• Not feeling like you have control over how much you eat
• Binging at least one time per week for a 3 month period
• Eating enough to feel extremely uncomfortable afterwards
• Eating a lot even when you are not feeling hungry

Binge eating can begin in childhood and often can run in families. Females tend to be more often diagnosed with this disorder than males (perhaps males do not disclose or underreport occurrences).
Treatment for this disorder is complex and can require supervision of a physician as well as ongoing therapy. CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been shown to be an effective modality in helping curb the pattern of behaviour and provide insight and understanding to the individual. Tracking ones diet and intake is another step to taking back control as is regular exercise and structured eating (portion control). Learning how to manage emotions and increase self-confidence and self-esteem is crucial. Therapy is especially useful in this area.

If you have or think you have issues with over eating, contact your family physician, a therapist or family member and ask about binge eating disorder. Get the help and support you deserve.

© 1995-2015 The Nemours Foundation
©2005-2015 WebMD, LLC

Kerry Newman