What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

People with binge eating disorder tend to consume large amounts of food in a very short period of time, known as binging. This is usually followed by intense feelings of shame and guilt.

We can all have episodes of overeating and feeling uncomfortable afterwards. However, if these episodes are recurring and difficult to control, it may be a warning sign of a binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder is a mental health challenge known as an eating disorder, which affects our eating habits alongside physical and emotional well-being. People with binge eating disorder often struggle to stop eating when they’ve had enough. Still, the urges are often difficult to control, and they continue to binge eat until feeling discomfort or even pain.

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What Are Binge Eating Episodes?

Binge eating episodes, or episodes of compulsive overeating, involve recurring patterns of uncontrolled eating, causing the person to feel embarrassed, distressed and depressed about their food habits.

Binge eating episodes can also involve eating in secrecy and very often eating when not hungry.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of binge eating disorder include recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food. Based on the frequency of symptoms, binge eating disorder can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, severe or extreme.

Sings and symptoms of binge eating disorder can be categorised into four different groups, and each may vary in frequency and intensity depending on the individual.

Behavioural Signs

Spotting the early behavioural signs of binge eating disorder may help with early intervention and providing proper therapy on time.

The behavioural signs of binge eating disorder include:


The emotional symptoms of binge eating disorder may be the most challenging to identify and manage. They can significantly affect a person’s mental health, self-esteem and relationships with people.

Common emotional signs of binge eating disorder include:


People with binge eating disorder may experience a range of physical health problems if the challenge remains untreated for extended periods.

The physical signs of binge eating disorder include:


Binge eating disorder can also impact an individual’s psychological well-being.

The most common psychological signs of binge eating disorder include:

What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?

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Binge eating disorder is usually caused by a mix of factors that affect a person’s physical and mental health and development. Although medical experts still research the causes of BED, the evidence so far shows that binge eating disorder may be caused by a combination of the following factors:

Regardless of the cause, it’s vital to show acceptance and respect to all people dealing with binge eating disorder or another type of eating disorder. The main issue behind this mental health challenge is not food but a person’s emotions and inner struggles.

Differences Between BED and Other Eating Disorders

Binge eating disorder, along with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, belongs to the group of mental health challenges known as eating disorders. However, these mental health challenges appear with different symptoms and require different treatment approaches.

The main difference between bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder is that people with BED do not involve in purging activities like self-induced vomiting or taking laxatives.

In the case of anorexia nervosa, there is a clear and distinctive difference between the two. For instance, people with anorexia engage in food restriction activities, sometimes resulting in severe malnutrition and significant weight loss.

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How Is Binge Eating Disorder Treated?

Binge eating disorders can be treated and overcome with a combination of psychotherapy, medications, nutrition and a balanced diet. The most important step in treating BED is providing emotional support and encouragement to the individual.


Psychotherapy shows outstanding results in treating binge eating and other eating disorders. One-on-one therapy can help you break down barriers that affect your emotional and mental well-being. It can also help with building healthy self-awareness and self-image.

Therapy also helps people understand what causes unhealthy eating habits and how to overcome them.


In more severe cases, medical professionals may recommend specific medication therapy to relieve feelings of anxiety and depression. However, any medication needs to be prescribed by a GP or a healthcare professional.

Nutrition and a Balanced Diet

Nutritional counselling can benefit people with binge eating disorders or related eating disorders. This type of therapy addresses the whole person, re-drawing the relationship between food and eating, mind, and body image.

Group and Family Therapy

Group and family therapy are highly effective approaches in the treatment of binge eating disorders. They provide a supportive and collaborative environment where individuals with binge eating disorder and their families can address the underlying challenges and work towards recovery.

Both group and family therapy address the individual’s psychological and emotional needs but also the impact on their relationships and overall functioning. These therapeutic disciplines are often integrated with individual therapy and other evidence-based treatments to promote lasting recovery.

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Risk Factors and Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder

When left untreated, binge eating disorder may have severe or sometimes life-threatening consequences. People with binge eating disorder may be at risk of developing:

Mental health challenges like intense feelings of anxiety, stress and depression are common health consequences of binge eating disorder. In other words, eating disorders, including binge eating disorders, can impact an individual’s general well-being and overall functioning.

Seeking help on time and accepting therapy can significantly improve the quality of life of people with binge eating disorders.

How Does Binge Eating Disorder Affect an Individual's Life?

Binge eating disorder affects the person as a whole, along with their physical and mental capabilities. The constant feeling of shame, guilt and dissatisfaction with one’s body image may significantly disrupt a person’s social and family relationships.

Further, this can lead to social withdrawal, isolation and prevent the person from living a meaningful and rewarding life. People with binge eating disorders need to be accepted and understood. The best we can do is provide unconditional support and emotional comfort to everyone struggling with an eating disorder or mental health challenge.

Raising awareness about the importance of mental health and well-being prevents stigma and social barriers. The world can be a better place to live if we treat everyone equally.

How Leaf Complex Care Supports People with BED

Leaf Complex Care provides person-centred support and humanised care for individuals with binge eating disorder. We understand and value every person’s unique needs and requirements, and we treat every person with dignity and respect.

With years-long experience in supporting people with complex care needs, we have consistently delivered life-changing outcomes. Leaf Complex Care is your trusted partner in physical and mental health support.

We provide short-term and long-term care as well as 24-hour support whenever needed. For more information, contact our offices in Bristol, SloughSomerset and the Midlands.