Binge-Eating Disorder

People with a binge-eating disorder have little control over their eating. They may gorge themselves on food, usually in secret. But, unlike bulimics, they do not purge their bodies of the food they consumed. Therefore, people with binge-eating disorder are frequently overweight or obese. While bulimia and anorexia nervosa affect primarily females, binge-eating disorder appears to impact as many males as females.

Because binge-eating disorder can lead to obesity, those affected by the condition are at risk of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high-blood pressure. People who are obese are also at greater risk for certain types of cancer.

Emotional Symptoms of Binge-eating Disorder

  • Embarrassment of their behavior
  • Feelings of guilt, shame and distress
  • Feeling that the eating behavior is out of control
  • Frequently eating in secret
  • Hiding or secreting food
  • Lying about or denying the amount of food eaten

Physical Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

  • Eating to the point of discomfort and pain
  • Eating much more food during a binge episode than is typical for a normal meal or snack
  • Eating faster during binge episodes
  • Sores on, or in the mouth; scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
  • Often not realizing the amount of food consumed

Binge-eating disorder is included in a group of eating disorders called EDNOS, (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.)  These disorders do not meet all the criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, but represent the most common reason people seek treatment for eating disorders. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, these examples show how an individual may have an EDNOS but not have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

  • A female patient meets all the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, but is still having her periods
  • A person meets all the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, but their weight is still in the normal range.
  • A person meets all the diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa, but the binge eating and purging behavior occur less than twice a week.
  • A person of normal body weight engages in purging behavior after eating small amounts of food. Often called purging disorder, this behavior could involve self-induced vomiting after eating two cookies.
  • The person repeatedly chews and spits out, but does not swallow large amounts of food