Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is in fact a distinct entity—not just the extreme overeating that plagues many people. No one knows for sure what causes BED. Similar to Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, the treatment approach is always bio-psycho-social.

With the association of BED and obesity, this disorder becomes a major public health issue that presents both medical and psychiatric issues that impair the quality of life.

Binge Eating is characterized by insatiable cravings that can occur any time of the day or night, usually secretive, and filled with shame. Bingeing is often rooted in poor body image, use of food to deal with stress, low self-esteem and tied to dysfunctional thoughts.

What does BED look like?

This vicious cycle of recurrent bingeing without purging brings feelings of despair, disgust, and a sense of loss of control. As a consequence of the binge, fears become reality and weight gain follows. As a result, emotional and physical distress can become so severe that work, school and even social relationships begin to be impaired.

Distinguishing between overeating and binge eating is sometimes difficult, even for the eating disorder professionals. Compulsive eating, emotional eating are terms that have been around for years. BED is a distinct entity and not merely the occasional craving, over-eating when you are hungry, or the overindulgence during the holidays.

Criteria for Diagnosis of BED:

  • Loss of control over amount of eating
  • Marked distress over binge episode
  • Occurs at least 1x per week for 3 months

And, THREE or more of the following:

  • Eating more rapidly than normal (i.e. 2 hr period)
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty over after overeating
  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) from the DSM-IV has been transformed into OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. OSFED is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distres or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder. Eating disorders are not always black and white, and individuals can exhibit disordered eating patterns even if they don’t meet the threshold for a full-blown diagnosis.