Do I Have Binge-eating Disorder?

Reviewed Nov 9, 2017

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Summary

  • Many people cycle between dieting and overeating or use food to satisfy needs other than hunger.
  • A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose binge-eating disorder.

For most of my adult life, I was a compulsive overeater. I was unhappy with my weight, so I would skip breakfast and lunch. By evening, I would be so ravenous that I would overeat at dinner—and sometimes keep eating until I felt ill. Or I might try to legitimize overeating. I would say to myself, “well, you had a bad day, so you deserve to eat what you want.” Once I started eating, I felt powerless to stop. It was like I was on autopilot. In the moment, eating made me feel better. But I felt so ashamed afterward. At the urging of my wife, I finally went to the doctor about my eating habits and weight gain. I was diagnosed with binge-eating disorder. I thought I just lacked self-control. So learning that my problem was a real and treatable eating disorder was a huge relief. I wish I had found this out years ago. —Tom

Can you relate to some degree? If you can, you’re not alone. People who are unhappy with their body weight or shape often restrict what, how much, and when they eat, which can backfire and trigger overeating. And many people eat for reasons other than to satisfy hunger, such as:

  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Social pressure

But like Tom, people with binge-eating disorder (BED) are trapped in a vicious cycle of uncontrolled overeating. If you are concerned that your eating behavior could be BED, read through the symptoms listed below and check any that apply to you.

  • You often eat more food than what most people would consider to be a normal amount for a given time.
  • You eat much faster than most people.
  • Once you start eating, you feel you cannot stop.
  • You often eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
  • You sometimes feel “out of it” during or after binging.
  • You often eat when you are not hungry.
  • You stash food at home, work, and in your car.
  • You sometimes plan binges.
  • You often eat alone to avoid embarrassing yourself.
  • You are unhappy with your weight and/or body shape.
  • You frequently diet.
  • You feel disgusted, guilty, or sad after binging.
  • You eat to relax, reduce stress, soothe, or reward yourself.

One or more checked boxes means that you have some unhealthy eating behaviors. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about these behaviors and any other concerns. Your doctor can tell you if you have BED, and if so, suggest treatment that can help you stop binge eating. This may involve:

  • Identifying binge-eating triggers and strategies to avoid or handle them
  • Changing negative thoughts and feelings about your body, self, and eating
  • Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, tough emotions, or problems
  • Learning how to eat healthily and be active

Finding out you have BED is the first step toward overcoming it. Even if you do not have BED, you may need help normalizing your eating habits. Don’t put off seeing your doctor if you are troubled by any unhealthy eating behaviors.

Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders; Binge Eating Disorder Association
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Many people cycle between dieting and overeating or use food to satisfy needs other than hunger.
  • A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose binge-eating disorder.

For most of my adult life, I was a compulsive overeater. I was unhappy with my weight, so I would skip breakfast and lunch. By evening, I would be so ravenous that I would overeat at dinner—and sometimes keep eating until I felt ill. Or I might try to legitimize overeating. I would say to myself, “well, you had a bad day, so you deserve to eat what you want.” Once I started eating, I felt powerless to stop. It was like I was on autopilot. In the moment, eating made me feel better. But I felt so ashamed afterward. At the urging of my wife, I finally went to the doctor about my eating habits and weight gain. I was diagnosed with binge-eating disorder. I thought I just lacked self-control. So learning that my problem was a real and treatable eating disorder was a huge relief. I wish I had found this out years ago. —Tom

Can you relate to some degree? If you can, you’re not alone. People who are unhappy with their body weight or shape often restrict what, how much, and when they eat, which can backfire and trigger overeating. And many people eat for reasons other than to satisfy hunger, such as:

  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Social pressure

But like Tom, people with binge-eating disorder (BED) are trapped in a vicious cycle of uncontrolled overeating. If you are concerned that your eating behavior could be BED, read through the symptoms listed below and check any that apply to you.

  • You often eat more food than what most people would consider to be a normal amount for a given time.
  • You eat much faster than most people.
  • Once you start eating, you feel you cannot stop.
  • You often eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
  • You sometimes feel “out of it” during or after binging.
  • You often eat when you are not hungry.
  • You stash food at home, work, and in your car.
  • You sometimes plan binges.
  • You often eat alone to avoid embarrassing yourself.
  • You are unhappy with your weight and/or body shape.
  • You frequently diet.
  • You feel disgusted, guilty, or sad after binging.
  • You eat to relax, reduce stress, soothe, or reward yourself.

One or more checked boxes means that you have some unhealthy eating behaviors. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about these behaviors and any other concerns. Your doctor can tell you if you have BED, and if so, suggest treatment that can help you stop binge eating. This may involve:

  • Identifying binge-eating triggers and strategies to avoid or handle them
  • Changing negative thoughts and feelings about your body, self, and eating
  • Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, tough emotions, or problems
  • Learning how to eat healthily and be active

Finding out you have BED is the first step toward overcoming it. Even if you do not have BED, you may need help normalizing your eating habits. Don’t put off seeing your doctor if you are troubled by any unhealthy eating behaviors.

Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders; Binge Eating Disorder Association
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Many people cycle between dieting and overeating or use food to satisfy needs other than hunger.
  • A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose binge-eating disorder.

For most of my adult life, I was a compulsive overeater. I was unhappy with my weight, so I would skip breakfast and lunch. By evening, I would be so ravenous that I would overeat at dinner—and sometimes keep eating until I felt ill. Or I might try to legitimize overeating. I would say to myself, “well, you had a bad day, so you deserve to eat what you want.” Once I started eating, I felt powerless to stop. It was like I was on autopilot. In the moment, eating made me feel better. But I felt so ashamed afterward. At the urging of my wife, I finally went to the doctor about my eating habits and weight gain. I was diagnosed with binge-eating disorder. I thought I just lacked self-control. So learning that my problem was a real and treatable eating disorder was a huge relief. I wish I had found this out years ago. —Tom

Can you relate to some degree? If you can, you’re not alone. People who are unhappy with their body weight or shape often restrict what, how much, and when they eat, which can backfire and trigger overeating. And many people eat for reasons other than to satisfy hunger, such as:

  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Stress
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Social pressure

But like Tom, people with binge-eating disorder (BED) are trapped in a vicious cycle of uncontrolled overeating. If you are concerned that your eating behavior could be BED, read through the symptoms listed below and check any that apply to you.

  • You often eat more food than what most people would consider to be a normal amount for a given time.
  • You eat much faster than most people.
  • Once you start eating, you feel you cannot stop.
  • You often eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
  • You sometimes feel “out of it” during or after binging.
  • You often eat when you are not hungry.
  • You stash food at home, work, and in your car.
  • You sometimes plan binges.
  • You often eat alone to avoid embarrassing yourself.
  • You are unhappy with your weight and/or body shape.
  • You frequently diet.
  • You feel disgusted, guilty, or sad after binging.
  • You eat to relax, reduce stress, soothe, or reward yourself.

One or more checked boxes means that you have some unhealthy eating behaviors. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about these behaviors and any other concerns. Your doctor can tell you if you have BED, and if so, suggest treatment that can help you stop binge eating. This may involve:

  • Identifying binge-eating triggers and strategies to avoid or handle them
  • Changing negative thoughts and feelings about your body, self, and eating
  • Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, tough emotions, or problems
  • Learning how to eat healthily and be active

Finding out you have BED is the first step toward overcoming it. Even if you do not have BED, you may need help normalizing your eating habits. Don’t put off seeing your doctor if you are troubled by any unhealthy eating behaviors.

Resources

Binge Eating Disorder Association
www.bedaonline.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
www.anad.org

By Christine Martin
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychological Association, 2013; Binge-Eating Disorder: Clinical Foundations and Treatment, by James E. Mitchell, MD, et al. The Guilford Press, 2007; National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders; Binge Eating Disorder Association
Reviewed by Rose Marie Sime, MD, VP DABPN, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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