Binge Eating Disorder

What is Binge Eating Disorder? Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterised by a person regularly eating more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances. But importantly, in a person with BED, the episodes are very upsetting, marked by strong feelings of lack of control, guilt and shame.

How do I know if I have Binge Eating Disorder?

BED is officially diagnosed when a person has regular episodes of uncontrolled over-consumption of food which have occurred at least weekly over a period of three months.

Often, the person will eat alone and eat very quickly, regardless of any sensation of hunger, until they are uncomfortably full. When they are bingeing, they feel they have no control over what or how much they are eating, and are often distressed whilst doing so.

They often store supplies of food to eat in secret to hide how much they are eating, afterwards feeling depressed, disgusted, guilty or ashamed. In between these episodes, people may resort to eating very little which increases their hunger levels and thus the likelihood of further bingeing episodes.

People with BED may put on weight or become obese, but this is not necessarily the case.

What are the causes and effects of Binge Eating Disorder?

The exact causes of BED are as yet unknown, but people are more likely to become affected it if there is a family history of eating disorders, depression or addiction, if a person has been criticised about their weight or feels under pressure to lose weight, if someone has low self-esteem or anxiety, or if someone has suffered a trauma or been emotionally or sexually abused.

Binge Eating Disorder treatment

The earlier an eating disorder treatment is sought the better. Ellern Mede follows the NICE recommendation that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the treatment of choice for people with Binge Eating Disorder. We employ a patient-centered approach to tailor interventions to the patient’s life circumstances and health needs.

If someone is overweight because of BED, they could suffer from weight-related health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Dieting whilst being treated for BED is not recommended as it is a causal factor for the condition, but following a healthy eating and exercise plan will undoubtedly help.

As a child, I discovered the power of food. I discovered I wanted more of it than I was permitted to have, that it was a restricted temptation, and I thought about it a lot. It calmed and shamed me at the same time. It signified love and hate. It brought me up and then down. It was my best friend and my worst enemy. Today I live with this as an adult but through therapy I can manage it.

An extract from a BED patient’s story

NHS referrals

Ellern Mede has provided specialist Tier 4 eating disorder services to the NHS since 2000. We respond to referrals within 24 hours.


Private referrals

Call now for immediate access to Ellern Mede specialist private eating disorder services. Accepted referrals begin treatment within two weeks or faster in emergencies.