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Binge Eating: Causes, Symptoms and Help

By November 20, 2023December 7th, 2023Inspiration and Insights, Podcasts, Returning to Wellness
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A Closer Look at Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a common but often misunderstood condition that affects many people. It’s more than just eating a lot; it’s a complicated issue with serious consequences for both bodily and emotional well-being. In this blog, we will delve into the world of BED, exploring its causes, symptoms, and potential treatment choices in a tone that is both informal and instructive.

Binge Eating

Recognising Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a major mental health problem that falls under the category of eating disorders. Unlike other eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, BED does not entail purging or excessive caloric restriction. Instead, it focuses on recurring episodes of eating a great amount of food in a short period of time, which are frequently accompanied by overpowering feelings of guilt, humiliation, and discomfort.

A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that gay and bisexual adolescents in the United States are more than twice as likely to experience binge eating disorder compared to their heterosexual peers. The study suggests that discrimination, bullying, and stigma faced by LGB teens contribute to disordered eating and low self-esteem.

Binge eating disorder can have psychological and physical health consequences, including anxiety, depression, and increased risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Adolescent boys were also found to have a higher chance of experiencing binge eating than girls. The researchers emphasize the importance of seeking professional help and providing a welcoming healthcare environment for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

Identifying the Symptoms:

  • Overeating: BED is characterised by frequent and excessive overeating, often exceeding normal portions.
  • Lack of Control: A common symptom is the inability to control or stop eating during a binge episode.
  • Emotional Turmoil: Individuals who binge frequently feel significant emotional turmoil, with guilt and shame taking the lead.
  • Isolation and secrecy: Many persons with BED eat in private, avoiding social situations in order to conceal their eating habits.
  • Dieting Cycles: BED patients may cycle between severe dieting and uncontrollable overeating, sustaining the disease.
Why do people choose to binge eat

Unpacking the Risk Factors and Causes:

The underlying reasons of BED can be complex and vary from person to person. Several factors are known to play a role:

  • Genetics: Having a family history of eating disorders or mental health concerns can raise the likelihood of getting BED.
  • Psychological Triggers: Stress, worry, despair, and low self-esteem can all be BED triggers.
  • Dieting and Restriction: Rigid dieting, particularly those requiring extreme limits, might set the stage for binge eating episodes.
  • Emotional Trauma: Past trauma or difficult life events might cause some people to turn to food for emotional comfort.
BIng Eating Disorder Understanding this eating disorder

Investigating Treatment and Support

The good news is that BED can be treated. Recovery is possible with the appropriate approach:

  1. Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have been shown to be useful in addressing the emotional and psychological elements of BED.
  2. Medications: In some circumstances, healthcare experts may prescribe antidepressants or other medications to assist control symptoms and emotional triggers. 
  3. Nutritional Counselling: Working with a trained dietician can help people build a healthier connection with food and establish regular eating patterns.
  4. Support Groups: Joining a support group for people with BED can provide a sense of belonging and shared experiences, which can be quite therapeutic.
  5. Mindfulness and Self-Care: Mindfulness and self-care can help one better understand one’s body and emotions, minimising the probability of binge eating.
Helping others

How can you offer help to someone struggling with binge eating disorder:

If you know someone who is struggling with binge eating disorder, there are several ways you can help support them in their journey towards recovery. First and foremost, it’s important to approach the topic with empathy and understanding, creating a safe space for them to share their feelings and experiences without judgment.

Encourage them to seek professional help from therapists or registered dietitians who specialize in eating disorders. Offer to accompany them to appointments or help them find reputable resources for treatment options. Be a positive influence by promoting a healthy and non-judgmental attitude towards food and body image. Encourage them to engage in activities that promote self-care and stress relief, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies they enjoy.

Lastly, remind them that recovery is a process, and be patient and supportive as they navigate their journey towards healing.


Binge eating disorder is a difficult condition that affects a large number of people. However, it is critical to understand that there is hope for healing. If you or someone you know is struggling with BED, seek assistance since there are excellent treatments and support networks available. Recovery is feasible, and with the appropriate approach, one can create a healthier relationship with food and with oneself.

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How to get help?

Jenny Tomei is a Nutritional Therapist and Eating Disorder coach. See all her credentials on her About Jen page and then should you need help then make contact with her today. Your road to recovery can start now!

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