Deprivation Binge

What Is Binge Eating Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention


To understand what binge eating disorder is, you first have to understand what it is not. It is not overeating and taking in more calories than your body needs, even if you do that every day. It is not “grazing” — eating small amounts of food more or less continuously throughout the day. It is not overindulging on Thanksgiving, plowing through a giant fast food meal, or even demolishing a pint of ice cream in one sitting.

It’s also important to note that most people who are overweight or obese do not have BED. Genetics, a diet high in processed foods (high in sugar and fat) and large portions, plus a sedentary lifestyle, are the main contributing factors to those conditions, notes the National Health Service (NHS).

To have BED you must experience profound despair about your eating habits. You must regularly go on eating jags in which you consume thousands of calories in one sitting, often far more than the 2,000 calories most adults need for an entire day. And you probably binge in secret, and feel so much guilt and shame that it affects your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, says Kathleen Ashton, PhD, a psychologist and an associate professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in Ohio. “Instead of feeling in control of your eating, you feel as if your eating is controlling you,” she says.

Specifically, to meet the diagnostic criteria for BED you must:

  • Binge at least once a week for three months, eating in one episode more food than most people would eat within any two-hour time frame
  • Feel as if you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you’re eating

You also must experience at least three of the following:


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