What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is commonly known by compulsive overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and a loss of control. Binge eating episodes are typically classified as occurring on average a minimum of twice per week for a duration of six months.
BED was first explained in 1959 by Albert Stunkard, a psychiatrist, and researcher, as Night Eating Syndrome (NES). The term Binge Eating Disorder was created to define similar binge eating behavior without the nocturnal aspect.
Though BED can occur in men and women of normal weight, it often leads to the development of unwanted weight gain or obesity, which can indirectly reinforce further compulsive eating.
Men and women suffering from BED struggle with emotions of disgust and guilt and often have a related co-morbidity, such as depression or anxiety.
The negative feelings that usually accompany binge eating often lead him or her to continue to use food to cope; thus creating a vicious cycle. Managed eating disorder treatments are extremely important.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
While the exact cause of BED is unknown, there are a variety of factors that are thought to influence the development of this disorder. These factors are:
- Biological: Biological abnormalities, such as hormonal irregularities or genetic mutations, may be associated with compulsive eating and food addiction.
- Psychological: A strong correlation has been established between depression and binge eating. Body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and difficulty coping with feelings can also contribute to binge eating disorder.
- Social and Cultural: Traumatic situations, such as a history of sexual abuse, can increase the risk of binge eating. Social pressures to be thin, which are typically influenced through media, can trigger emotional eating. Persons subject to critical comments about their bodies or weight may be especially vulnerable to binge eating disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of BED
As individuals suffering from binge eating disorder experience embarrassment or shame about their eating habits, symptoms may often be hidden.
The following are some behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of BED:
- Continually eating even when full
- Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
- Stockpiling food to consume secretly at a later time
- Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
- Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
- Feelings of numbness or lack of sensation while bingeing
- Never experiencing satiation: the state of being satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed
The consequences of BED involve many physical, social, and emotional difficulties.
Some of these complications are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Insomnia or sleep apnea
- Gallbladder disease
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Gastrointestinal difficulties
- Depression and/or anxiety
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Professional support and treatment from health professionals specializing in the treatment of binge eating disorders, including psychiatrists, nutritionists, and therapists, can be the most effective way to address BED.
Such a treatment program would address the underlying issues associated with destructive eating habits, focusing on the central cause of the problem.
It is necessary to concentrate on healing from the emotional triggers that may be causing binge eating, having proper guidance in establishing healthier coping mechanisms to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, etc.
Webinar: Understanding the Facts About Binge Eating Disorder
Presented by: Allan S Kaplan MD MSc FRCP(C) is currently a Senior Clinician/Scientist, Chief of Research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and Vice Chair for Research and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. He is also Director of the Institute of Medical Science, School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medicine. He was the inaugural Loretta Anne Rogers Chair in Eating Disorders at Toronto General Hospital and is currently Senior Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute. He received his medical, psychiatric and graduate school training at the University of Toronto. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for 30 years, has lectured widely on various topics in the field, published 150 peer reviewed articles, two books, 50 book chapters and over 200 abstracts. He is the Past President of both the Academy for Eating Disorders, the largest organization of eating disorder professionals in the world, and the International Eating Disorder Research Society. He has been a continuously funded peer reviewed investigator since 1992, and has received grant support from the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Canada.
There are also three types of therapy that can be especially helpful in the treatment of BED. These therapies are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of therapy aimed at helping individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviors.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): A form of therapy in which the focus is on an individual’s relationships with family members and peers and the way they see themselves
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): A type of therapy that focuses on teaching individuals skills to cope with stress and regulate emotions
In addition to these methods, group therapy sessions led by a trained eating disorder therapist, as well as eating disorder support groups, may also be effective methods of establishing recovery from BED.
Articles on Binge Eating Disorder
Am I Overeating or Do I Have a Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder that masks itself as basic overeating. It can easily go undetected and it affects more men and women than Anorexia or Bulimia. But, do you have BED or are simply overeating like so many other people?
Renegotiating Binge Foods in BED Recovery
Many individuals who struggle with binge eating also may have particular foods that trigger binge episodes. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fats can cause the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which can induce pleasurable feelings. For this reason, people who are dealing with binge eating disorder often gravitate towards foods with these components, either for comfort or as a means of escaping from difficult situations.
Losing Your Job to a Binge Eating Disorder? It Can Happen
You spend about half of your life at your job. It is a big part of your social interaction and provides a platform to boost (or deflate) your self-esteem. So what does a binge eating disorder (BED) have to do with your job? Lots of people struggle with BEDs. Studies show as many as 2.6% of our adult population binge eat. Can it really put your job at risk? The answer is yes, and in more ways than you think.
Mindful Eating and BED
When it comes to eating, binge eating disorder may appear to be a food-related problem only. However, mindfulness teaches the practice or state of conscious awareness of oneself, the present moment, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Integrating mindfulness techniques in binge eating disorder treatment has been shown to reduce binge eating, improve nutritional outcomes, improve weight management, as well as enhance diabetes management.
Medical Nutrition Therapy for BED
Professional treatment for binge eating disorder will involve the collaboration of multiple professionals, including a therapist/counselor, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and registered dietitian. Each of these professionals works in their area of specialty to help address a concern that a person with binge eating disorder is facing.
Learning How to Eat Out in Binge Eating Disorder Recovery
Eating out at restaurants can also be a challenging experience for the person recovering from binge eating disorder. The combination of being in a restaurant environment coupled with the overwhelming food choices and portions can lead to a catastrophe.
Depression and Binge Eating Disorder
Depression is commonly associated with eating disorders, and it is often co-occurring with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Trying to address Binge Eating Disorder can become more difficult if clinical depression is a key component or trigger for binge eating. This begs the question of “Did binge eating begin because of depression or did depression begin because of binge eating?”
The Black and White of Eating Disorders
The perception is that eating disorders normally affect Caucasian women, but eating disorders are color blind and will affect African American women as well. However, there needs to be more research conducted on African American women as most research is directed toward white women.
Binge Eating Disorder: When Comfort Eating Crosses the Line
Eating for comfort or emotional reasons is not necessarily a bad thing. That is as long as the food does not become the main source of comfort or method for dealing with life’s stress and challenges. Using food to consistently soothe emotional upheaval can quickly become Binge Eating Disorder, and this can result in some serious health consequences.
Using the Non-Diet Approach for Treating Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
While not as familiar as Anorexia or Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder is a severe illness that requires equal attention and professional treatment in order to establish recovery. An important approach in addressing BED is the implementation of the˜Non-Diet’ method. This approach essentially teaches sufferers to respond to physical hunger as well as how to regulate feelings associated with food and eating. Use of this method along with other proven therapies can help in healing from BED. Read this article to learn more about the Non-Diet Approach for binge eating disorder.
Children Binge Eating: Different Stories but Similar Storylines
Binge eating is not only a concern for adults. Many children and adolescents have secret memories of having engaged in binge eating. These patterns are occurring ever more frequently in today’s image-focused, diet-obsessed world. Read two stories about young adolescents who engaged in binge eating disorder behavior.
Elevated Status for Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-5
The diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder has been added to the new DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual) as it’s own separate diagnosis. This disease of BED, that troubles so many, is now more likely to be treated with the care and respect that binge eating disorder sufferers deserve. Learn about BED and the DSM-V in this article.
Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse
With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among any other psychiatric illness, the focus and attention given towards prevention and treatment is absolutely essential. However, sometimes overshadowed is the equally devastating Binge Eating Disorder, also classified as a major eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in May of 2013. Learn more about the devastating effects of BED while at college here.
BED research: What Do We Know?
Since Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was first mentioned in the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1987, research on BED has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. In fact, in 2013, BED was added to the latest, fifth edition, of the DSM as its own diagnosis.
How to Avoid Falling into Using Food to Replace Tobacco
The evidence suggests that you don’t. You are likely to eat more when you first quit smoking, but that increased eating is healthy. It might feel like you are binge eating at first because you are eating more than you did when you smoked, but this isn’t necessarily binge eating.
Dispelling the Myths of BED
Given that overeating from time to time is normal behavior and binge eating is not, it can be hard to understand the difference. I hope to illustrate the differences and to dispel the myth that people with BED “just need more self-control” or “just does not care about themselves enough”.
BED & Co-morbid Health Concerns of Obesity
A very important development in BED is the fact that it is now listed as an official eating disorder diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which will increase awareness and help make it easier for patients to get treatment.
Binge-Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating: Are They the Same Thing?
When I work with someone struggling with compulsive overeating issues, not only will I be attentive to the details they express to me about the nature of these “binge” episodes, but also to the thoughts and feelings that may be at the root of this difficulty with food and emotions.
Breaking 5 Myths of Binge Eating
Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of all the eating disorders but incongruently, with the least treatment options for the sufferers. Until recently, BED was not even recognized as an actual disorder and could not be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) published by The American Psychiatric Association.
Correlation Between BED and Trauma
Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a trauma related event have been more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior. One form of self-harm is binge eating, which has been proven to be linked with traumatic events.
BED and Anxiety
Binge eating disorder (BED) and anxiety are deeply intertwined and often co-occur. In fact, approximately 37% of those who are diagnosed with BED are also diagnosed with a full-fledged anxiety disorder. Rather than a linear relationship model (i.e., that anxiety leads to binge eating behaviors or binge eating behaviors lead to anxiety), BED and anxiety are much more transactional and are comprised of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Binge Eating Disorder and the DSM-5: What the Changes Mean
Perhaps the most significant improvement with the DSM-5 is that Binge Eating Disorder (BED) has been moved from the obscurity of an appendix in the DSM-IV to being designated in the DSM-5 as a full-fledged diagnosis that parallels the other main eating disorders of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN).
BED, Holistic Health and Weight Loss
Overweight binge eaters represent a collision of two traditional treatment worlds: eating disorders and weight control. 30-40% of those seeking weight loss treatment meet the criteria for BED. In a residential weight control treatment setting, this link between overweight/obesity and binge eating is striking. Our mean BMI is 43.3 and data suggest that 43.7 % of our participants have BED. A host of co-morbidities results from this combination of eating pathology and obesity.
Interview with Carolyn Costin
Interview with Carolyn Costin: “I had been recovered from anorexia nervosa for a while and my friends knew this so when a young girl with anorexia needed help people sought me out. When I saw this person it was like I knew the inside of her mind. She felt understood and she got better. Then I got another referral and she got better too. Soon people all around my town and the surrounding cities started referring to me. It was only then, that I knew I had to do this work.”
Adolescent Depression and Binge Eating Often Go Hand-in-Hand
You feel depressed because you have eaten too much or you eat too much because you feel depressed. For binge eaters, this vicious cycle is relentless leaving feelings of guilt and shame in addition to other negative emotions commonly associated with depression.
Reasonable Exercise Plans for Someone Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder
For those struggling with binge eating disorder, their exercise patterns tend to mirror their eating patterns – falling prey to an all-or-nothing tendency. With food, this involves a restriction/binge cycle and for exercise, this all-or-nothing tendency usually shows up as a cycle of no pain/no gain exercise and then being sedentary.
BED and Mindfulness/DBT
A common approach that is often taught in recovery for binge eating disorder is the practice of mindfulness and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). While there may be some initial skepticism towards these psychotherapy methods, many individuals will find these practices helpful in dealing with urges to binge, which can occur at any point of their recovery from binge eating disorder.
BED: Celebrate Your Recovery by Committing to You
Living with BED can also become a way to survive and face life difficulties, and relearning healthy coping skills can feel as though you are unraveling your sense of reality.
BED & Bariatric Surgery or the Sleeve
Countless individuals struggle with Binge Eating Disorder throughout our nation though many suffer in silence due to the fears and stigmas that surround this painful disorder. A common physical effect that can result from BED is obesity, which can result from consuming a greater amount of food than is needed over time.
Kids Binge Eating and the Rise in Obesity in American Children
The response to this epidemic has sent many mixed messages to families, who may feel unsure about how to handle their growing children. Could a country that is hyper-focused on obesity in our youth, in combination with a culture that is saturated with a disillusioned media, be leading to a rise in eating disorders in younger generations?
Binge Eating Disorder and Family Patterns of Self-Soothing
The factors that influence the development of binge eating disorder (BED) are complex and involve genetics (your biological make-up), the environment of both your past and present, the social conditions you are exposed to, and much more. One aspect that that can also be influential in the development of BED is the nature of a family setting and the way in which children are taught to soothe themselves and cope with their emotions.
BED: Impulse Control and a Recovery Coach
Many individuals who suffer from BED would attest to the loss of control they often experience during bingeing episodes, feeling a sense of unconsciousness as they engage in food binges that take them beyond a normal point of satiety. Consideration of a BED recovery coach might be helpful!
Night Eating Syndrome: So Much More Than Just A Bedtime Snack
Night Eating Syndrome (NES) was first recognized in 1955 by American psychiatrist, Dr. Albert Stunkard. NES is an eating disorder in which the affected individual wakes several times in the middle of the night and is unable to fall back asleep without eating, even though he or she is not actually hungry. The food eaten is often unhealthy and calorie-dense.
Research on BED and Medication
Recent research has shown that binge eating disorder (BED) is quite common, affecting about 2% to 3.5% of the population.
Page Last Updated and Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2019 Published April 20, 2012, on EatingDisorderHope.com, Information for Eating Disorder Help