Definition of Binge Eating Disorder

definition of binge eating disorder

Are you struggling with binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder officially became recognized earlier this year. This is an important addition as it acknowledges the out of control and powerless feelings associated with binge eating vs. simply overeating.


While overeating may be common in our society, binge eating disorder is more severe and less common. Furthermore, the addition of binge eating disorder legitimizes the serious psychological distress associated with binge eating, which many in our culture assume is simply a lack of “will power.” In fact weight stigma and the emphasis on restriction may be one factor contributing to the rise in eating disorders.


What is the definition of binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by:


1. Frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating (eating more in a short period of time than would be typical). This can be defined by:


– eating more rapidly than normal

– eating until uncomfortably full

– eating large amounts of food when not hungry


2. Feeling out of control accompanied by feelings of guilt/shame, secretive eating, or disgust


Binge eating disorder can also be defined by a lack of compensatory behaviors (such as purging or overexercising) that might be seen in bulimia for example.


This is a general summary and should not be used to diagnose BED, but simply to provide a guide. It’s important to note that weight is not indicative of binge eating disorder. People of all shapes and sizes can suffer from binge eating and those who are overweight do not necessarily struggle with BED.

Are you struggling with binge eating? Take our binge eating quiz and find out..

Signs you may be struggling with binge eating:

It is common to overeat some of the time and to eat emotionally some of the time. You might wonder if you’ve “binged” if you’ve felt that you’ve overeaten or even felt sick to your stomach after a meal. Binge eating isn’t the same as overeating. Binge eating is more commonly followed by intense shame and self-loathing and might be experienced in a “disconnected” way. Binge eating is problematic when it moves from some of the time to much of the time – two times a week or more. When thinking about your responses to these statements, consider whether this occurs frequently.


– you find yourself eating in secret or planning food to eat in secret

– you feel powerless to stop eating

– you eat to soothe anxiety, stress, worries, loneliness or other uncomfortable sensations

– you feel disgusted or ashamed after a binge

– you eat “at someone or something”, out of rebellion or to stuff anger

– you eat to escape or distract yourself from something unpleasant

– you feel zoned out while binging or unaware of how much food you’ve eaten until after the fact

– there are certain foods or situations that can trigger a binge episode


Treatment for binge eating disorder

Recovery from binge eating disorder does not mean simply learning how to “not binge” or stick to a diet. Recovery is much more complex and involves working with the underlying issues vs. food, which is a symptom. Treatment is recommended for anyone struggling with binge eating, though there are different approaches. Typically, treatment for binge eating involves working with a therapist in individual and/or group therapy and may also involve working with a dietitian and psychiatric support. Group therapy can be a very powerful treatment for recovery from binge eating as it can help with healing underlying shame and learning and practicing acceptance.


There is hope! Many people can and do recover from binge eating disorder. It’s important to understand that while binge eating is about food, recovery is not focused on food or a specific diet plan. Rather, recovery is a whole person approach involving learning about and healing the relationship between food and thoughts and emotions, understanding your physiology and biochemistry, learning mindfulness and acceptance skills, practicing self-care and creating meaning in your life beyond the focus on food.


Make Peace with Food Workshop

Get a jumpstart on understanding the mind, body, spirit connection that underlies binge eating. This one-day workshop takes you through the steps and skills needed to make peace with food, mind, and body. Each step will be covered in an experiential and discussion format. Find out more here.

Make Peace with Food Therapy Group

Our group programs offer additional opportunities for growth and support for people who struggle with binge eating. Groups can be a powerful way to heal from binge eating as you embark on the journey to recovery with others who understand and support you. Our structured group lasts for 12 weeks and begins at different times throughout the year. Groups are offered during lunchtime hours from 11:45-1pm. Following the group program or workshop, support group opportunities are available. Click here to find out more about our make peace with food therapy group.

Individual Therapy

Working with a therapist can be a key component in recovery from binge eating disorder. A therapist in Houston can help you understand emotional, physical and cognitive triggers and develop new coping strategies. Contact us to find out more about individual therapy for binge eating.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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