Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating: the unseen eating disorder

This is the first in a series of posts exploring Binge Eating Disorder

When we hear the words ‘eating disorder’ our minds often conjure an image of anorexia. We all understand that anorexia is a serious, potentially life-threatening issue, necessitating immediate treatment and support. Despite the increased awareness of anorexia, it is actually the least common eating disorder (ED), accounting for just 10% of diagnosed eating disorders. Binge Eating disorder (BED) is three times more common than anorexia, but sadly often goes unnoticed and untreated. As a result, many people are suffering silence with BED and are not receiving diagnosis or treatment. Studies have suggested that half of all people trying to control their weight, could be affected by BED.

Binge Eating Disorder

Often what prevents people struggling with BED from seeking help is the shame and stigma attached to ‘overeating’, feeling out of control around food and weight gain. Due to the lack of awareness around this ED, sufferers can often feel it’s their own lack of willpower which is to blame and may be unaware that their symptoms indicate an ED. Worryingly, many health professionals do not recognise and therefore under-diagnose BED, often leading to inappropriate and ineffective advice and treatment. Many people reporting BED symptoms will be advised to follow a restrictive weight loss diet, which will almost certainly trigger increased bingeing and worsening of the ED. Anyone struggling with bingeing and a difficult relationship to food deserves help and support and their condition taken seriously

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

‘Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental illness where people experience a loss of control around food and eat large quantities of food on a regular basis. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, or background’  Beat Eating Disorders UK

What are the signs of BED?

Behavioural signs

  • Buying lots of food
  • Organising life around bingeing episodes
  • Hoarding food
  • Eating very rapidly
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Psychological signs

  • Spending a lot or most of their time thinking about food
  • A sense of being out of control around food, or a loss of control over eating
  • Feeling anxious and tense, especially about eating in front of others
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Feelings of shame and guilt after bingeing
  • Other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety

Physical signs

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Other stomach problems
  • Poor skin condition

Finding out more about BED

If you recognise many of the signs above, in yourself or someone else, reading about and researching BED is a good place to start. There are some helpful guides available online:

BEAT Eating Disorders

NHS guide to BED

National Centre for Eating Disorders (NCFED)


If you’d like help with overcoming BED, please get in touch to book a consultation