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1295 Bandana Boulevard West
Suite 310 & 210
St. Paul, MN 55108
P: 651-645-5323
F: 651-621-8490
Toll-Free: 1-888-364-5977

About Eating Disorders

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes that are accompanied by marked distress, a sense of lack of control, and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt. These episodes involve eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is objectively larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time, under similar circumstances. Binge eating episodes are associated with eating much more rapidly than normal and/or until uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; and/or eating alone due to embarrassment about the amount one is eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, these binge episodes are not followed by compensatory behaviors.

What causes binge eating disorder?

Like all eating disorders, binge eating disorder develops over a period of time as a result of a complicated blend of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. There is no single cause to point to and, despite common misconceptions, families and communities of support are not to blame. In fact, they are often recovery’s strongest ally. Many individuals have genetic predispositions to binge eating disorder that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States and the most prevalent eating disorder among males. The mean age of onset for the disorder is 18 years and the vast majority of individuals who are diagnosed with binge eating disorder also struggle with psychiatric, mood, or anxiety disorders, and/or impulse control and substance use.

  • Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and altered hunger and fullness signals
  • Experiencing a traumatic event may tip someone into binge eating disorder
  • Genetic predisposition and societal pressures (e.g., drive for thinness)
  • Lack of environmental control and persistent, extreme stress, or minority stress can lead to binge eating disorder
A daughter hugging her mother from the back

What should you look for if you worry that someone has binge eating disorder?

Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder can help you champion early intervention and recovery through binge eating disorder treatment. Watch for binge eating episodes that are not associated with compensatory behaviors, but are associated with feelings of lack of control or self-loathing and occur, on average, at least once a week for three months. Associated disorders, or “comorbidities,” include major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar I and II disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

  • Binge eating episodes that occur one or more times a week
  • Marked distress around binge eating episodes
  • Avoiding mealtimes and eating alone or in secret can be a sign of binge eating disorder
  • Feelings of lack of control, guilt, shame, self-loathing, or disgust around food or eating

What are the risks of binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.

  • Chronic pain including headaches, back, and neck pain
  • Binge eating disorder can lead to diabetes and hypertension
  • In males: decreased frequency of erections and nocturnal emissions
  • In females: polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial cancer, and difficulty conceiving
mother and daughter looking at each other smiling

How can you recover from binge eating disorder?

If you or a loved one are struggling with binge eating or compulsive overeating, don’t wait to reach out for help. The earlier binge eating disorder is treated, the better the outcomes tend to be.

At Veritas Collaborative, we work with you to create an individualized care plan so you or your child with binge eating disorder get the right treatment at the right time. We offer a full continuum of care, which includes inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), outpatient, and virtual programs for children, adolescents, and adults. This allows us to provide best-in-class care and support throughout your recovery journey, even as your needs change. Our treatment programs focus on real-life skills, including hands-on nutrition and culinary experiences that you can take with you for lasting recovery. We encourage family involvement and offer family-based therapy and educational support for children and adolescents.

Key Takeaways

  • Binge eating disorder is a type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, accompanied by feelings of loss of control and distress.
  • Binge eating disorder affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, and can lead to physical, emotional, and social consequences.
  • Binge eating disorder is often accompanied by co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.
  • Treatment for binge eating disorder typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and nutrition counseling, and may involve a team of healthcare professionals.
  • With appropriate treatment and support, recovery from binge eating disorder is possible, and individuals can learn to develop a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

Updated April 2023

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