Clinical Features of Binge-Eating Disorder

The following are observable behaviours of a Binge-Eating Disorder.  Please remember never to diagnose yourself or someone else! Always speak to a professional specialised in diagnosing and working with eating disorders.

Binge-eating disorder commonly occurs in individuals with a normal weight and in individuals who are overweight. It sometimes occurs in individuals who are obese but this is more unusual as these individuals tend not to engage in recurrent binging. This form of eating disorder has been found to be more evident in individuals seeking treatment for weight loss. In fact, dieting has been found to be a contributing factor to someone getting caught up in this pattern of eating. Please read the section of dieting to understand how this can affect your relationship with food and with yourself.  Understanding the psychological aspects to your eating patterns will also be helpful for you.
This pattern may be difficult for friends, family and/or a spouse to detect as the person typically presents with a normal weight. Some observable behavioural traits may include:
1.      The person may eat a larger than normal meal and then continue to binge. For example, if a meal is eaten at a social gathering, the individual will continue to binge on large quantities of food when they return home. Continual snacking on small amounts of food through the day would not be considered as a binge in terms of diagnosis.
2.      There is a perceived sense of loss of control when binging. The person will seem distracted and even unaware of what s/he is eating and may struggle to gain control over the binge even with distraction techniques. 

3.      The type of food binged on varies: The emphasis is on the abnormal amount of food that is eaten rather than by any specific craving for a food type.

4.      They are secretive about their behaviour: Individuals with a binge-eating disorder are generally ashamed of their binge behaviour and will attempt to conceal this eating pattern.

5.      A binge can be triggered by negative feelings such as sadness, anger, anxiety and so on. Please see the section on psychological causes of eating disorders.
6.      Binge-eating episodes are generally followed by intense feelings of depression, guilt, shame, self-loathing and disgust. Understanding the internal and external triggers for a binge will be helpful. Please see the section on psychological causes of eating disorders.


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