Understanding Binge Eating Disorder and Common Eating Disorders
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Understanding Binge Eating Disorder and Common Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have a profound affect on an individuals everyday life and their physical and emotional well-being. Their relentless obsession with food, weight and body image, as well as their abnormal eating habits, define them.


With millions of victims worldwide, binge eating disorder (BED) is one of the most prevalent eating disorders (National Institute of Mental Health, 2021). This article will discuss binge eating disorder, look at other prevalent eating disorders, and provide advice on getting treatment.



Table Of Contents

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

How To Treat Binge Eating Disorder?

What Are Other Common Eating Disorders?

What Do I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder?

The Bottom Line





What Is Binge Eating Disorder?


Frequent periods of uncontrolled eating, during which an individual with the disorder feels powerless over their eating habits and consumes huge quantities of food in a short amount of time are the hallmarks of binge eating disorder. In contrast to bulimia nervosa, these episodes do not involve purging behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or abusing laxatives (American Psychiatric Association, 2021).



The following are some of the main binge eating disorder symptoms:


  • Consuming exceptionally big quantities of food very quickly (like in two hours)
  • Eating even when they are not hungry or satisfied
  • Consuming food quickly when having a binge episode
  • Consuming food until it makes you physically uncomfortable
  • Feeling offended, guilty, humiliated or disgusted with the way you eat
  • Concealing binge eating from other people
  • Unsuccessful attempts to reduce weight on several occasions (American Psychiatric Association, 2021)





What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?


The origin of binge eating disorder is unknown, however, it is likely that there are biological, psychological and social variables that are likely to blame. (Donnelly et al., 2018). Among the possible contributors are:


Genetics: You may be more at risk if there is a family history of eating disorders or mental health issues (National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).


Brain chemistry: A possible explanation could be anomalies in brain chemicals that control mood and hunger (Giel et al., 2022).


Emotional distress: When under stress, anxiety or depression, people with binge eating disorder may resort to food for consolation (Yau & Potenza, 2013).


Low self-esteem: An intense desire to reduce weight combined with a negative body image might lead to cycles of binge eating (Ivezaj et al., 2010).


Dieting: Restrictive dieting increases the likelihood of binge eating by creating a sense of deprivation (Stewart et al., 2022).




Photo By: Annushka Ahuja




How To Treat Binge Eating Disorder?



Thankfully, there are a a few therapy options for treating binge eating disorder. The following therapies are often included in a comprehensive treatment strategy:


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT assists people in recognizing and altering harmful eating- and food-related beliefs and behaviors (National Institute of Mental Health, 2024).


Interpersonal therapy (IPT): The goals of this therapy are to enhance interpersonal relationships and improve communication, both of which can be linked to binge eating (Karam et al., 2019).


Nutritional counseling: A certified dietician can assist people in creating a balanced meal plan and forming healthy eating habits (Levine, 2019).


Medication: In order to treat an eating disorder along with other disorders that may coexist, such as depression or anxiety, a doctor may prescribe medicine such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, or antipsychotics (Giel et al., 2022).



Self-help techniques might be helpful in the management of binge eating disorder as well. These consist of:


Mindfulness practices: You can increase your awareness of your thoughts and feelings related to food by practicing mindfulness and other techniques.


Regular exercise: Engaging in physical activity can elevate mood, lessen stress and encourage positive body image.


Building a support system: Making connections with loved ones, friends or support groups can bring understanding and support.





What Are Other Common Eating Disorders?



Although binge eating disorder is the most common, there are a few others that have similar symptoms but present in various ways:


Anorexia Nervosa: People who suffer from anorexia drastically restrict their food intake because they are afraid of gaining weight, which causes them to lose a lot of weight and become malnourished (Moore & Bokor, 2024).


Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia, just like binge eating disorder, is characterized by periods of binge eating. However, this is followed by purging behaviors such as laxative abuse, self-induced vomiting or engaging in excessive activity to avoid gaining weight (Jain & Yilanli, 2024).


Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): People with ARFID either have sensory issues, an absence of interest in food or they might have a fear of choking that makes them avoid or restrict particular food items. Nutrient deficits may result from this (Brigham et al., 2018).





What Do I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder?



It’s critical to get professional assistance if you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder. Recovery chances might be considerably increased by early intervention. To begin with, get in touch with an experienced medical expert, such as a physician, counselor or certified nutritionist, who can offer a precise diagnosis and suggest an appropriate plan of treatment. Understand that you are not alone. With the correct support system and guidance, recovery is viable.


The treatment plan may consist either of medications, psychological therapy or a combination of both. Medication itself does not treat the binge eating disorder, however, it can help to reduce depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.


Psychotherapy is usually taken as the first approach to treat binge eating disorder because the effectiveness of psychotherapy over pharmacotherapy is evident from scientific data. Individuals suffering from binge eating disorder may benefit from Interpersonal psychotherapy, Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or Dialectical behavioral therapy (Iqbal & Rehman, 2024).





The Bottom Line


Ultimately, managing the complex nature of binge eating disorder (BED) and other prevalent eating disorders necessitates a comprehensive strategy that includes awareness, compassion, and availability of qualified support. By raising awareness of these illnesses, we can lower obstacles to getting treatment and encourage a recovery-focused culture.


Keep in mind that seeking help is the first step towards recovery if you or someone you love is experiencing problems with their eating habits. People can change their relationship with food and body image by starting a journey with the correct tools and support.












American Psychiatric Association. (2021). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Booksmith Publishing LLC.


Brigham, K. S., Manzo, L. D., Eddy, K. T., & Thomas, J. J. (2018). Evaluation and Treatment of Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) in Adolescents. Current Pediatrics Reports, 6(2), 107–113. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40124-018-0162-y


Donnelly, B., Touyz, S., Hay, P., Burton, A., Russell, J., & Caterson, I. (2018). Neuroimaging in bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder: A systematic review. Journal of Eating Disorders, 6, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-018-0187-1


Giel, K. E., Bulik, C. M., Fernandez-Aranda, F., Hay, P., Keski-Rahkonen, A., Schag, K., Schmidt, U., & Zipfel, S. (2022). Binge eating disorder. Nature Reviews. Disease Primers, 8(1), 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41572-022-00344-y


Iqbal, A., & Rehman, A. (2024). Binge Eating Disorder. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551700/


Ivezaj, V., Saules, K., Hoodin, F., Alschuler, K., Angelella, N., Collings, A., Saunders-Scott, D., & Wiedemann, A. (2010). The relationship between binge eating and weight status on depression, anxiety, and body image among a diverse college sample: A focus on Bi/Multiracial women. Eating Behaviors, 11, 18–24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2009.08.003


Jain, A., & Yilanli, M. (2024). Bulimia Nervosa. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562178/


Karam, A. M., Fitzsimmons-Craft, E. E., Tanofsky-Kraff, M., & Wilfley, D. E. (2019). Interpersonal Psychotherapy and the Treatment of Eating Disorders. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 42(2), 205–218. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2019.01.003


Levine, K. (2019). Binge Eating Disorder and the Nutrition Care Process. Nutrition & Dietetics Student Publications, 1. https://commons.und.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=nd-stu


Moore, C. A., & Bokor, B. R. (2024). Anorexia Nervosa. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459148/


National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Eating Disorders. Retrieved May 4, 2024, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders/


National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Eating Disorders: About More Than Food. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders


National Institute of Mental Health. (2024, January). Eating Disorders. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders


Stewart, T. M., Martin, C. K., & Williamson, D. A. (2022). The Complicated Relationship between Dieting, Dietary Restraint, Caloric Restriction, and Eating Disorders: Is a Shift in Public Health Messaging Warranted? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(1), 491. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010491


Yau, Y. H. C., & Potenza, M. N. (2013). Stress and Eating Behaviors. Minerva Endocrinologica, 38(3), 255–267. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/







Written By: Dr. Wasif MD

Edited by: Madison Vargas, BS

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, LMFT

Published : 05/24/2024


Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives. We do this through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. Inspired by this, we write content for your own education. Also, our content is researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. However, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, it should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Written and reviewed by

Madison Vargas

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