Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

At some point, all of us have overindulged in food, helped ourselves to dessert even though we were full or opened up the snacks because we felt bored – but what is the difference between this and binge eating disorder? Binge eating disorder (BED), also known as compulsive overeating, is a behavioural addiction that is characterised by the uncontrollable consumption of large amounts of food that is then followed by intense feelings of guilt and shame. Unfortunately one in fifty people experience binge eating disorder in the UK, 40% of which are male.

If you are ready to step out of the prison of BED and get the help you need, Banbury Lodge can support you. Our team has helped many people just like you overcome issues with food and start enjoying life again.

Binge Eating Disorder

Do I have binge eating disorder?

Realising you have a problem with binge eating is the first step in recovering and is vital if you want to change your eating habits. Although it can be difficult to open up and admit you need help, finding the strength to talk will automatically feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

Take a moment to answer the following questions to find out if you may have BED:

  • Do you engage in regular binge eating sessions where you eat more than considered normal?
  • Do you find yourself unable to control the amount of food you consume?
  • Do you continue to eat even though you are full?
  • Do you consume food very quickly?
  • Do you often eat alone or try to hide how much you have eaten?
  • Do you feel embarrassed or ashamed about eating?
  • Do you try to skip meals or fast, only to binge later?
  • Do you hoard food or try to hide food around the house?

If you can relate to any of these questions, reaching out to a treatment centre could turn your life around.

Binge eating vs overeating

Most people have experienced episodes of overeating – maybe you have treated yourself to dessert after dinner or perhaps you have overindulged during special occasions, even though you already felt full. While overeating may make us feel uncomfortable for a short while, and sometimes even guilty, it is not classified as binge eating.

Binge eating specifically refers to a total loss of control over the amount of food you consume. These episodes are like compulsions that take over the mind and body. Even though you may want to stop, you are unable to. This loss of control is what makes the disorder so distressing for anyone suffering.

What causes binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder can be triggered by a combination of environmental, psychological and genetic circumstances. Sometimes it is easy to pinpoint the cause of BED, but more often than not it is a complex blend of many different factors.

Some contributing factors to binge eating disorder may include:

  • Close family members also suffering from an eating disorder
  • Experiencing a stressful or traumatic event
  • Inability to cope with negative emotions or mental health issues
  • Lack of confidence and self-esteem
  • Previously engaging in a strict or restrictive diet

More often than not, food is used as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and even boredom. It is therefore important to address these issues in an all-encompassing treatment programme designed specifically for BED and co-occurring mental health issues.

What are the side effects of binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder can affect every single aspect of your life, from your health and behaviour to relationships and finances.

Physical side-effects

Some of the physical side effects of binge eating disorder include:

  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep issues
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Risk of heart attack

Binge Eating Disorder - sleep deprived woman

Psychological side-effects

Some of the psychological side effects of binge eating disorder include:

  • A preoccupation with food
  • Losing control around food or feeling out of body when bingeing
  • Experiencing anxiety about eating in front of people
  • Low self-worth and self-esteem
  • Mental health issues including depression

Behavioural side-effects

Some of the behavioural side effects of binge eating disorder include:

  • Buying and hoarding lots of food
  • Planning everyday life around binge eating sessions
  • Isolation from others
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Allowing food to take precedence over other responsibilities

Binge eating and co-morbidity

Research has shown that nearly 80% of those with binge eating disorder also suffer from at least one other mental health issue. This includes:

  • Anxiety disorders (65.1%)
  • Mood disorders (46.4%)
  • Impulse control disorders (43.3%)
  • Substance use disorders (23.3%)

This evidence highlights the importance of a well-rounded treatment programme that is equipped to deal with any mental health issues alongside the eating disorder itself.

How to help a loved one with binge eating disorder

Approaching a loved one about the sensitive topic of binge eating can feel incredibly daunting. To ensure a productive and positive conversation, you should remain empathetic, patient and non-judgmental. Scare tactics or threats may not prove effective – in fact, they may work to push your family member further away. Avoid pressuring or forcing help on them, making them feel guilty for their condition and talking about dieting or weight loss. Instead, focus on providing understanding and unconditional acceptance and work to establish healthy communication about binge eating disorder.

If you are feeling particularly nervous about opening up a conversation with your loved one, it is a good idea to plan ahead, rehearse what you want to say or write everything down in a letter. Pick the right time and place to ensure you aren’t rushed or interrupted.

It helps to do your research on BED and its treatment so that you can try to encourage your loved one to get the help they need. Reassure the person that they are not alone and that they are worthy of finding happiness and freedom from binge eating disorder.

Treatment for binge eating disorder

Treatment for binge eating disorder is a multi-disciplinary process that typically involves several different therapy types. At Banbury Lodge, you will take part in both individual and group therapy sessions, including:

Our aim is to address the reasons for your binge eating, uncover your triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms for you to take forward. We will also support you as you build relationships with family members and learn how to communicate in more productive ways.

Binge Eating Disorder - art therapy

What’s next?

It has been proven that the earlier you seek treatment, the easier it will be to change unhealthy patterns of behaviour. You do not have to suffer alone – there is no shame in seeking treatment for binge eating disorder.

By completing rehab treatment for binge eating disorder you will benefit from:

  • Improved physical health
  • A healthy relationship with food
  • Reduced mental health issues
  • Boosted confidence and self-esteem
  • Ability to cope with stress and negative emotions
  • Significant improvement in quality of life

If you are tired of binge eating disorder dominating your life and are ready to benefit from a professional treatment programme, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Frequently asked questions

Is binge eating disorder the same as bulimia?
While both of these conditions involve bingeing on large quantities of food, the key difference is that BED does not involve purging. Those suffering from bulimia will engage in purging behaviours such as self-induced vomiting or using laxatives in order to “make up for” the excessive amounts of food consumed.
When do I need to see a doctor for binge eating disorder?
A doctor will usually diagnose binge eating disorder if you have been experiencing at least one episode of binge eating a week for a period of three months or more. If you feel like your eating habits are getting out of control or you are worried you have binge eating disorder, you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
How can I prevent binge eating disorder relapse?
It is important to mention that a relapse does not mean you have failed – relapse is often a part of recovery and can even be used as a lesson to prevent binges in the future. Look out for triggers and establish a plan for dealing with them when they arise. You should also use tactics to instil good habits with food, for example, planning your meals and keeping a food log.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 3757