Everything You Need to Know About Binge Eating Disorder

Learn about the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder. Seek effective treatment options for binge eating disorder at Alternative Options.

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Binge eating disorder is a serious mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there is still a lack of awareness and understanding surrounding this disorder. Binge eating disorder can lead to various physical and emotional health complications if left untreated.

Here, we will explore the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder. We will also see treatment options and coping strategies for those with binge eating disorder.1

Binge Eating Disorder

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Let us guide you through your options and treatment opportunities. Contact Alternative Options today.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating Disorder (BED) is a mental health condition characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food within a short period; feeling a loss of control over their eating behavior.2

People with BED often feel ashamed or guilty about their eating habits. This can lead to social isolation. It also affects their quality of life. Unlike other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, people with BED do not necessarily engage in compensatory behaviors such as purging or excessive exercise.

BED Diagnostic Criteria

BED is a recognized eating disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). They outline specific criteria for diagnosing BED, which include recurrent episodes of binge eating, or eating an abnormally large amount of food within a short period (usually within two hours) and experiencing a lack of control during the episode.

The binge eating episodes are accompanied by three or more of the following:3

  • Eating much more quickly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of
  • feeling embarrassed about the amount of food being consumed
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty after overeating
  • Binge eating occurs at least once a week for three months or more
  • Binge eating is not associated with compensatory behaviors such as purging, fasting, or excessive exercise

Who Does BED Affect?

Binge eating disorder affects individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It often co-occurs with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. BED can also lead to significant health problems such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

Some of the common symptoms of BED include:

Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms of BED include:

  • Eating large amounts of food in a short period
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after a binge
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating alone or in secret

Moderate Symptoms

Moderate symptoms of BED include:

  • Continuing to eat even when feeling uncomfortably full.
  • Eating until feeling sick
  • Feeling out of control during a binge
  • Weight gain

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms of BED include:

  • Chronic dieting without weight loss
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts

Short-Term Symptoms

Short-term symptoms of BED include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping

Long-Term Symptoms

Long-term symptoms of BED include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Increased risk of some types of cancer

Not everyone with a binge eating disorder will experience all these symptoms, which may vary in severity. It is crucial to seek professional help if you suspect you or someone you know may have a binge eating disorder.

What Risk Factors for Developing Binge Eating Disorder?

There are several risk factors for developing BED. Risks include the following:4

  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of eating disorders are more likely to develop binge eating disorder. Inherited genes increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.
  • Dieting: People with a history of dieting or restrictive eating patterns are at a higher risk of developing BED.
  • Emotional Challenges: For some people, binge eating has been associated with challenges in expressing emotions. This behavior might also be a way to deal with anger, sadness, boredom, or stress.
  • Psychiatric Illnesses: People with binge eating disorders are at increased risk for psychiatric illnesses, particularly depression.
  • Sociocultural Issues: Risk factors for all eating disorders involve biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues, such as social pressure to be thin, body image dissatisfaction, and bullying or other forms of harassment.

These factors may interact differently in different people, so two people with the same eating disorder can have very diverse perspectives, experiences, and symptoms.

Who Is Most Frequently Impacted by Binge Eating Disorder?

BED can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and it is estimated to affect approximately 2% of the global population.

However, research suggests that BED is more common in certain groups, including:5

  • Women: BED is more common in women than men. Women make up about two-thirds of reported cases.
  • People With a History of Dieting: People with a history of dieting or weight cycling may be at a higher risk of developing BED.
  • Those With a Family History of Eating Disorders: There may be a genetic component to BED. Individuals with a family history of eating disorders may be more likely to develop the disorder.
  • Individuals With Mental Health Conditions: BED is often associated with other mental health conditions. They include depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.
Binge Eating Disorder

Treatment Opportunities

There are several effective treatment options for binge eating disorder, including (but not limited to):


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is often the first-line treatment for BED. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly effective in helping individuals with BED. It changes their disordered eating behaviors. It also addresses underlying emotional and psychological issues.


Antidepressants may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms of BED. These medications can benefit individuals who also struggle with depression or anxiety.

Nutritional Counseling

Working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can help develop a healthy and balanced eating plan. It also helps identify triggers for binge eating. Then, developing strategies to manage them.

Support Groups

Joining a support group, either in-person or online, can provide individuals with BED with a sense of community and support. It can also help to reduce feelings of shame and isolation.

Getting Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder At Alternative Options

Alternative Options is a healthcare provider that offers integrative and holistic treatment for individuals struggling with binge eating disorders. The treatment approach at Alternative Options combines traditional medicine with complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation to address the disorder’s physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects.

Treatment Opportunities at Alternative Options

Patients at Alternative Options receive personalized treatment plans tailored to their unique needs and goals. The treatment team may include medical doctors, licensed therapists, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals who work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for each patient.

Treatment options for binge eating disorder at Alternative Options may include:

  • Nutritional counseling
  • Mind-body therapies
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Medication management

Reach Out to Alternative Options Today

If you or a loved one is ready to regain autonomy over your lives once more, reach out to Alternative Options today. Our compassionate and highly-trained staff is here to guide you through recovery and help you achieve lasting wellness.