Binge Eating Disorder

Binge/Compulsive Eating Disorder sufferers find themselves unable to control intense compulsions to binge eat in a similar way to those with Bulimia. It is defined as recurrent periods of eating significantly more food in a short space of time, than most people would eat under similar circumstances. These episodes are marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when not hungry. There may be associated feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and the sufferer may binge eat alone in order to keep the behavior a secret.

Compulsive eating lacks the purging stage of Bulimia, and subsequently those with this disorder tend to have higher body weights. People can gain weight for various reasons though, and it must be said that not everyone who is obese, sufferers from an eating disorder.

Until relatively recently, Binge Eating Disorder was not fully recognised by the medical profession and fell under the category of EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). However in the last edition of the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition' – the official 'rulebook of mental health diagnosis- it was recognised as a disorder in its own right. In the past 20 years there have been over 1,000 research papers published that support the idea that BED is a specific diagnosis that has validity and consistency.

What is happening?

As with other eating disorders, shape, size and weight can become a focus in place of sorting out painful and difficult problems. The extra weight carried by compulsive overeaters gives a confusing message. It may be used to keep people at bay. It can be a protective amour against feelings of weakness and vulnerability, or used either to hide or emphasise strength and determination.

Possible Signs & Symptoms


“I had consistently been losing weight for more than 8 months and had become accustomed to eating very little. This triggered a return of my anorexia, after a 20-year period of recovery. SWEDA were able to offer me an appointment the very next day. When we met I was feeling very ill and frightened.I spoke to them about my fears, but then took the decision to go to my doctor on the way home. I was admitted to hospital within a few days.”

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