Signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder (BED)

Binge eaters experience an uncontrollable urge to consume lots of food when they are driven by depression, anger and anxiety. These underlying problems can build up and cause greater harm, the longer the binge eating takes place.

Look out for any problems at home or within relationships which may be leading the sufferer to binge eating as a way of dealing with the problems. You may notice that a friend or relative is buying excessive amounts of food and at the same time is experiencing struggles in personal or work life.

Symptoms of BED

If you think you may be suffering from BED or are concerned about someone else, here are the most common signs of BED to look out for:

  • Binge eating when you are not hungry, to feel satisfied and comforted
  • Chaotic eating habits i.e. eating nothing all day and then binge eating at night in private
  • Eating lots of junk food  such as crisps, chocolates, pies
  • Eating until you are uncomfortably full  and not recognising or listening to the signs that you should stop eating
  • Eating alone in private because you are embarrassed about your eating habits and feel a lack of control when faced with food
  • Feeling ashamed after binge eating due to guilt and disgust over the amount of food that you have consumed
  • Lack of fitness and general ill health from a lack of healthy nutrition and often too much saturated fat, salt and sugar from unhealthy foods
  • Obesity and its associated illnesses such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and diabetes
  • Relationship problems
  • An increased likelihood of developing certain cancers
  • Bad skin and hair  because of lack of particular nutrients from healthier foods

Emotional symptoms of BED

Binge eaters may also experience emotional symptoms such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Depression due to lack of control, erratic eating habits and social exclusion due to the embarrassing nature of the condition

Who does BED affect?

BED tends to be more common in older adults than in younger people, unlike anorexia. Anyone can be affected and it is usually in response to a stressful situation. BED is often associated with obesity, where someone is severely overweight. This can cause further serious health conditions including heart problems and cancer.

Anyone can be affected by BED. Unlike anorexia, where more women than men are affected, BED affects men and women equally.

The binge eating will more than likely happen in private and can be difficult to spot especially as certain behaviours associated with the condition may be misread. For example, BED sufferers may only eat salad during the day and in public, but binge eat at night in the privacy of their own home.

7 tips for dealing with the early signs of BED

  1. Admit that you have a problem – this is a crucial first step towards recovery
  2. Accept that your eating behaviours are unhealthy and will need to change
  3. Accept help from professionals, family and friends – support is key to positive recovery
  4. When feeling the urge to binge eat, try to distract yourself with a positive challenge, such as a crossword or puzzle. This will distract you from unwanted urges to eat large amounts of food
  5. Quit whilst you’re ahead – if you spot that you are about to binge eat, give yourself 15 minutes to conquer this urge and work out why you feel this way. Write down the trigger for future reference
  6. Surround yourself with positive people and remove any negative temptations
  7. Purchase healthy foods and set yourself portion limits

If you would like further information about Binge eating disorder treatment or Eating disorders, then plesae call the Priory on: 0845 277 4679.