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Binge Eating Disorder: Who’s at Risk, What’s the Cure?

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Dec 19, 2022

Binge Eating Disorder: Who’s at Risk, What’s the Cure?

Binge Eating Disorder or BED is an eating disorder that affects 1 to 2% of the world population. Interestingly, it is more common in women than in men. From the name itself, this illness is characterized by eating a lot of food in just a short period, and having no control over the amount of food consumed.

Say for example, a person would normally eat a regular serving of food in 30 minutes to an hour. Those with binge eating disorder can eat twice or thrice that in the same amount of time, and feel out of control about the amount of food they consume.

It differs from bulimia, another eating disorder where a person binge eats, because those who are suffering from binge eating disorder don’t purge themselves after consuming excessive amounts of food. They don’t try to induce vomiting, abuse laxatives, and diuretics. They just don’t stop eating until they’re uncomfortably full.

Who is Affected by BED?

You may not know it, but you could be suffering from binge eating disorder already. To see if you do, check for the following characteristics:

  • You eat large amounts of food — more than double the recommended dietary intake for your age and body — most, if not all of the time.
  • You can’t really stop eating until everything is consumed, or that you feel uncomfortably full.
  • Still, you feel embarrassed by the amount you ate, yet on your next meal, you won’t think twice about altering the serving sizes.
  • You’ve tried and succeeded to lose weight before, but just gained it back afterward. You’re in a cycle of losing and gaining weight.
  • However, you now have trouble losing weight compared with other people with weight problems.

Ticking off most of the items above, you probably have binge eating disorder, and it’s not something that you can just ignore. There are complications that stem from this condition, and you are at risk of developing more health problems that could be life-threatening.

Complications Caused by BED

There are multiple complications BED can bring, becoming overweight being the most common. If you’re still in the cycle of losing and gaining weight, maybe you don’t see yourself getting overweight or obese. Once you forego physical activities, your weight can easily balloon and you’ll find that it’s harder to keep off than usual.

Of course, obesity exposes you to a lot more health risks, some of which are life-threatening. Eating too much fatty foods can increase your cholesterol levels and elevate your blood pressure. You can also develop a long list of heart diseases, coupled with diabetes, gallbladder illness, and even various types of cancer.

People suffering from binge eating disorder also have increased risk for other psychiatric illnesses, depression being one of them. Binge eating usually follows stress and anxiety, but eating too much food at one time can then trigger guilt and depression. This causes an unbreakable cycle of stress, binge eating, depression, and more stress. Worse, they could even turn to substance abuse for relief.

Recommended Treatments for Binge Eating Disorder

The goal of treatment is basically to reduce binge eating episodes, reduce excess weight, concerns of self image, and address other psychiatric issues. It would be best to ask the help of a psychiatrist.

Treating binge eating disorder entails managing the illness to reduce binges and promote healthy eating habits; it’s not a one-time cure that can “turn off” your tendency to binge eat the next day.

One of the recommended treatments is psychotherapy because this disorder is greatly related to shame, negative emotions, guilt, poor self-image, and depression. Addressing these problems teaches the sufferer to feel more in control of what they eat so that they can stop at any time they choose and not fall into a pit of despair because they ate too much.

binge eating disorder

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This is one of the methods to help those suffering from BED cope with issues that trigger their binges. CBT addresses the negative feelings about their body and gives them more control over their behavior so that they won’t feel helpless when presented with the opportunity to overeat.

Interpersonal psychotherapy

This type of therapy can help if the trigger of the episodes includes problematic relationships and bad communication skills. This helps you improve your relationships with others and relieve tension that may contribute to BED.

Dialectical behavior therapy

Next, behavioral therapy can help if stress is the trigger. Here, you will learn behavioral skills that allow you to better handle stress. By managing your stress, you can regulate your emotions, and even improve your interpersonal relations. This reduces your desire to binge and overeat.


Medications can also help manage binge eating triggers and even reduce symptoms. One medication is topiramate, normally used for seizures. It’s been found to reduce binge-eating episodes but has side effects like sleepiness, trouble concentrating, and dizziness. And since depression is a well-known trigger, antidepressants are good for addressing them. This decreases the tendency to binge-eat, but it’s not clear how they can do so. But it has been thought to be associated with certain chemicals in the brain that controls your mood.

Key takeaways

It is important to address binge eating disorder as soon as possible. If you think you are suffering from this condition, there are a lot of people who you can turn to for help. A dietician can help you with meal planning and general diet.

If you feel like you don’t have any control over what you eat, seek professional help. Talk to a psychiatrist to help you address the underlying causes of the problem, such as guilt, depression, and more. You can overcome binge eating disorder with enough treatment and support.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Ruby Anne Hornillos · Updated Dec 19, 2022

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