Binge eating is often something we have done at one time or another. Perhaps at a celebration or a birthday, we have continued to eat just for the taste or because it feels good. Binge Eating Disorder is different.

The signs of Binge Eating Disorder include:

  • Feeling uncomfortably full while continuing to eat
  • Eating a lot of food quickly despite lack of hunger
  • Feeling out of control
  • Shame surrounding food

If you eat more than others during the same situation or meal time and have binged at least once a week for three months, you may have Binge Eating Disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Up to 60 percent of people who have Binge Eating Disorder are women, and 3 out of 10 people seeking weight loss treatment show signs of Binge Eating Disorder. 

Roughly 3.5 percent of women in the United States have had a Binge Eating Disorder in their lifetime. The average age of development for this disorder tends to occur in the late teens/early twenties for both men and women. While having Binge Eating Disorder, women tend to show signs of anxiety while men have often been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Both diagnoses have the potential to stem from emotional conflict.

In 1959, Albert Stunkard, MD, described eating patterns that included the consummation of large amounts of food at irregular intervals. Night eating was common among these individuals. In 1987 the American Psychiatric Association noted binge eating in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term was referenced only with the eating disorder bulimia.

In 2008 the Binge Eating Disorder Association was created. The group was formed to help, support, and advocate for the Binge Eating Disorder community.

In addition to weight gain and problems with self esteem, Binge Eating Disorder can be linked with:

  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Menstrual problems
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol

The risk factors for developing a Binge Eating Disorder vary from person to person. Sexual abuse and trauma may have an impact on eating behavior as well as genetic predispositions. Food addiction is often found to be in the same category as obsessive compulsive behavior and anxiety. Having a family history of obesity also plays a factor.   

If you are concerned whether you may fall into the category of someone with a Binge Eating Disorder, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you eat much more quickly than usual during binge episodes?
  • Do you eat large amounts of food when you are not hungry?
  • Do you eat until you are uncomfortably full?
  • Are you secretive about eating?
  • Do you eat alone because you are embarrassed about the quantity of food you eat?
  • Do you feel ashamed about the way you eat?
  • Do you feel depressed about your eating habits?

Talk therapy is usually a key component of the treatment process as well as medications such as Topamax and Vyvanse. There are different ways to recover from Binge Eating Disorder, but it is generally thought to be a disorder that is managed and not cured. The ties between addiction and binge eating are closely bound and, like addiction, there are many different methods of treatment depending on the response of the individual.