What is Binge Eating?

Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder are very common eating problems that affect both men and women. People who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder frequently overeat and the problem feels uncontrollable. Asking “what is binge eating” is not a simple question — and it can be very challenging to overcome.

Beyond Overeating

Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder go far beyond overindulging in an occasional meal or two. People who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder regularly eat large amounts of food at one time (far beyond a normal meal) and usually do it when they are alone and possibly feeling a bit down.

Binge Eaters feel upset with themselves after a binge episode and are embarrassed by their actions. They feel out of control and hate themselves for doing it. This negative attitude perpetuates the eating cycle. Once they binge they are driven to binge again in order to feel some small comfort from the food they eat, continuing the problem and making the habit even harder to break.

What is Binge Eating – Details

The disorder was first described in 1959 by psychiatrist Albert Stunkard as “Night Eating Syndrome” and then soon after it was expanded to Binge Eating Disorder. The difference being that Night Eating Syndrome occurs exclusively at night. A sufferer of Night Eating Syndrome feels compelled to binge eat when they should be sleeping and often wakes to do so.

Signs of Binge Eating Disorder (from Wikipedia)

  • Periodically does not exercise control over consumption of food
  • Feels loss of control over eating during binge
  • Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time, far more than an average person would eat
  • Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes.
  • Eats until physically uncomfortable and nauseated due to the amount of food consumed
  • Eats when depressed or bored
  • Eats large amounts of food even when not really hungry
  • Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food
  • Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating
  • Experiences rapid weight gain/sudden onset of obesity

A Widespread Disorder

Appropriately 3% of all woman and 2% of all men suffer from Binge Eating Disorder but the number is likely just as high for men since many men do not seek professional help for this issue. Also, according to many studies, at least 25-50% of obese individuals binge eat to some degree. The prevalence of binge eating is enormous but it does not seem to get the attention it deserves in the mainstream media or by doctors.

It is Treatable

Binge Eating Disorder is treatable. Most people can overcome Binge Eating Disorder by following any one of many different treatment programs. Sometimes just recognizing they have the problem forces some people to stop binge eating. Others require a more rigorous program or additional help from trained experts. Treatments can sometimes take months or years.

Treatment plans can include cognitive-behavior therapy to stop the unwanted actions, personal counseling and structured programs like Overeaters Anonymous or Rational Recovery. Another option is self-treating the problem in private with guidance from self-help books, coaches or mentors.

You Should Address the Problem Now

If you or someone you know is suffering from Binge Eating then please learn more about how to treat it and come up with a plan. Binge Eating Disorder not only makes people overweight (and all the associated problems that go with it) but it also could be a sign of other deeper issues to include depression, stress and anxiety.

One place to begin is by reading my Tower Defense Strategy to Stop Binge Eating. It provides a big picture treatment approach and can be used to structure your own self-treatment plan in private. It can even help facilitate your discussions and action plans with an expert or doctor.

Regardless of the approach you take, please start helping yourself now. Maybe even talk to a family member, friend or doctor and get their thoughts. Bottom-line, if you don’t get a handle on your binge eating it will shorten your life and cause you many other problems.