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Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by frequent episodes of out-of-control eating (American Psychological Association, 2010).  Unlike individuals who participate in bulimic behavior, those with BED do not purge themselves of excess caloric intake through self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise. (American Psychological Association, 2010)

Symptoms include eating large amounts of food, eating even when you are full, eating rapidly during binge episodes, feeling that your eating is out of control, eating a lot even when you are not hungry, frequent dieting (especially dieting that does not result in weight loss), frequent eating alone, and frequent negative feelings toward your eating habits (Mayo Clinic, 2010). 

Recurrent binge eating is typically seen in overweight or obese people, although those of normal weight have also been known to be affected by BED (DeAngelis, 2002).

Those affected by BED are also likely to display distorted attitudes toward eating, shape or weight, and show signs of mood symptoms such as depression and anxiety (DeAngelis, 2002).  An individual who displays one or more symptom of BED is encouraged to seek medical care, because this is not something that, in all likelihood, will improve on its own.

This is thought to be true because after a binge episode it is common for an individual to try to diet or eat normal meals.  The caloric restriction will then often trigger more binge eating, which creates a vicious cycle (Mayo Clinic, 2010).  In fact, some reports suggest that extreme caloric restriction in itself can trigger binge eating because it disrupts our natural hunger and satiety cues (White et al, 2009).  It can also be noted that those with BED are more likely to become overweight at a younger age, more likely to begin dieting at a younger age, and more likely to spend more time in unproductive weight-loss programs or treatments (Gibney et al, 2005).

Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore Ph.D. is Founder and CEO at Thriveworks--a counseling practice, focused on premium client care, with 80+ locations across the USA. He is Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and Author of How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice. Anthony is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

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