By Sofia Rydin-Gray
What is binge eating?
We all have probably had those times when we ate too much during a special occasion or during a weekend trip. We may even have binged on a box of donuts once when we felt especially sad after a breakup. However, binge eating disorder is different from just the occasional “eating too much” at a party. When binge eating happens regularly and it is associated with significant distress and loss of control, it is very different from just plain overeating. In fact, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was officially recognized as a formal diagnosis in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.
Characteristics of Binge Eating Disorder
The DSM-5 specifies that BED is associated with these emotional and behavioral symptoms:
- Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (typically within any 2-hour period)
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating)
- These episodes of binge eating occur at least once a week for three months
Binge-eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eating alone due to feeling embarrassed about the amount you’re eating
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after afterward
Moreover, marked distress regarding binge eating is also present, but is not associated with frequent inappropriate compensatory behavior, such as purging, excessive exercise, etc. Binge eating does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.