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What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder is a psychological illness characterised by frequently eating excessive amounts of food, often when not hungry. Binges represent a distraction that allows a person to avoid thinking about the real root of their problems. Feelings of guilt, disgust and depression often follow a bingeing episode. Binge Eating Disorder is not the same as overeating, as it is recurrent and more serious.

Binge Eating Disorder is similar to, but not the same as Bulimia Nervosa. Where people experiencing Bulimia Nervosa will partake in purging activities after bingeing, Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by an absence of purging, despite suffering similar feelings of intense guilt, shame and self-hatred after binges. While a lack of purging is evident, a person experiencing Binge Eating Disorder will often participate in sporadic fasts and repetitive diets in response to the negative feelings which follow a binge episode.

Binge Eating Disorder can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. In fact, research suggests equal percentages of males and females experience Binge Eating Disorder. 

Did you know?

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of all eating disorders? It is estimated that 47% of Australians with an eating disorder have Binge Eating Disorder.1


Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

  • An overwhelming sense of lack of control regarding eating behaviour
  • Eating more rapidly than normal
  • Periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating whereby a person may consume many thousands of calories, often to the point of feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating when not physically hungry
  • Repeated episodes of binge eating which often results in feelings of shame or guilt
  • Eating in secret
  • Avoiding social situations, particularly those involving food.
  • Eating 'normal' quantities in social settings, and bingeing when alone
  • Low self esteem and embarrassment over physical appearance
  • Feeling extremely distressed, upset and anxious during and after a binge episode
  • Fear of the disapproval of others
  • Self harm or suicide attempts
  • Overly sensitive to references about weight or appearance
  • Guilt, self disgust
  • Anxiety
  • Depression


Physical Signs and Effects of Binge Eating Disorder

Most of the physical effects of Binge Eating Disorder are due to weight gain.

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1. Paying the price : the economic and social impact of eating disorders in Australia, The Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders

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