What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?
Individuals with binge eating disorder (BED) engage in binge eating, but in contrast to people with bulimia nervosa (BN) they do not regularly use inappropriate compensatory weight control behaviors such as fasting or purging to lose weight. Binge eating, by definition, is eating that is characterized by rapid consumption of a large amount of food by social comparison and experiencing a sense of the eating being out of control.
Binge eating is often accompanied by uncomfortable fullness after eating, and eating large amounts of food when not hungry, and distress about the binge eating. There is no specific caloric amount that qualifies an eating episode as a binge. A binge may be ended by abdominal discomfort, social interruption, or running out of food.
Some who have placed strict restrictions on what and when it is OK to eat might feel like they have binged after only a small amount of food (like a cookie). Since this is not an objectively large amount of food by social comparison, it is called a subjective binge and is not part of binge eating disorder.
When the binge is over, the person often feels disgusted, guilty, and depressed about overeating. For some individuals, BED can occur together with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, or self-injurious behavior. The person suffering from BED often feels caught up in a vicious cycle of negative mood followed by binge eating, followed by more negative mood. Over time, individuals with BED tend to gain weight due to overeating; therefore, BED is often, but not always, associated with overweight and obesity. Previous terms used to describe these problems included compulsive overeating, emotional eating, or food addiction.
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2 thoughts on “When Eating is Out-of-Control”
Thanks for posting this article! I’ve struggled with both binge eating and bulimia nervosa at different times. I like the distinction between subjective overeating (which is quite common) and the real disorder. In my experience, it seems that many people fret over food issues because they ate something unplanned or because they’re unhappy with their body. It’s not for me to question their experience, but hearing about it makes me feel more isolated and abnormal. A real eating disorder takes over your life. It goes way beyond being a weight issue or a “diet.” For me, it has almost always been made worse by people trying to help. The good news is that there is help, and it is worth seeking. Each of us is unique in Christ and He knows our sorrows and He knows our frame. He gives us the strength to turn away from “help” which is not help, and to seek that which makes us whole.
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