What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating. It is important to note that overeating and binge-eating are not the same. Overeating can be described as consuming more food than your body needs at a given time. Most people overeat on occasion. Binge-eating is less common and is marked by psychological distress.

Signs and symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

  • Changes in body weight
  • Dresses in layers or clothing that disguises one’s body shape even when not appropriate for the weather
  • Evidence of binge eating, such as disappearance of food or hoarding of food in secret
  • Guilt and anxiety surrounding eating or food

If you have concerns about binge eating patterns, this screening tool can help identify whether these patterns indicate the possible presence of binge eating disorder. Note: this is not a diagnostic tool and is not a substitute for a professional evaluation. 

Screen for Disordered Eating

Diagnosis criteria for Binge Eating Disorder

A binge-eating episode is characterized by:

  1. The consumption of an unusually large amount of food during a relatively short period of time.
  2. Feeling out of control over what and how much is eaten and when to stop

A binge-eating episode also includes three or more of the following:

  1. Eating very quickly
  2. Eating regardless of hunger cues, even if one is already full
  3. Eating until uncomfortably or painfully full
  4. Eating alone due to embarrassment about the type and quantity of food ingested
  5. Feelings of self-disgust, guilt, and depression

The binge-eating episodes are not followed by compensating behaviours (such as excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, or the misuse of laxatives or diuretics) as in bulimia nervosa.

Binge eating is seen as a disorder when the bingeing episodes occur at least once a week for three months or more.

Download NEDIC's Binge Eating Pamphlet (PDF)

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness characterised by behaviours that interfere with maintaining an adequate weight. 

Biological, social, genetic, and psychological factors play a role in increasing the risk of its onset.

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Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a mental illness characterised by periods of food restriction followed by binge eating, with recurrent compensating behaviours to “purge” the body of the food.

Biological, social, genetic, and psychological factors play a role in increasing the risk of its onset.

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Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) involves limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness. 

ARFID is a mental illness which can severely compromise growth, development, and health. 

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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness that can seriously affect psychological and physical health. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food then experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards.

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Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders refers to atypical presentations of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, among other eating disorders. 

These eating disorders are equally serious and as potentially life-threatening as the more typical presentations. 

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Other Eating Disorders

Including pica, rumination disorder and unspecified feeding or eating disorder

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