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Binge Eating Disorder: Just the facts

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is when someone eats large amounts of food over a short period of time whilst experiencing difficult feelings such as being unable to control what or how much they are eating.


When someone with BED experiences a binge they feel out of control and may find it difficult to stop during the binge even if they want to. Binges are incredibly upsetting and distressing. People may feel disconnected from their bodies during a binge and sometimes struggle to remember it happening. Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that affects people of all ages.


What are the symptoms of BED?

People with BED display different symptoms but some of the common symptoms include:

  • Uncontrollable binges are accompanied by feelings of distress or guilt.
  • Eating alone or in secret
  • Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
  • Buying a lot of food
  • Planning around bingeing episodes
  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Feeling distress, disgust, shame or guilt after bingeing
  • Eating quickly or until uncomfortably full
  • Weight gain (It is important to note that this doesn’t happen to everyone with a binge eating disorder)
  • A loss of control when eating
  • Low confidence and self-esteem

People who have BED don’t tend to use any methods of trying to prevent gaining weight after their binge eating episodes, for example vomiting after a binge.

Just because you are experiencing one or more of these doesn’t automatically mean you have BED but if these symptoms persist you should talk to an adult that you trust and feel safe with.

What causes BED?

The exact cause of BED is unknown. You may be more likely to develop BED if you (or someone in your family): already have an eating disorder, have experienced a stressful event or trauma, have anxiety, low esteem, are worried about being overweight, are worried about being underweight, diet cycling or you have another mental health illness.


How do you treat BED?

You can get better from BED with the right treatment and support. There is a lot of guided self-help for BED from organisations such as First Steps or BEAT. You can receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) from a therapist or you may be prescribed medicine such as antidepressants from a professional.

It’s important to note dramatically reducing your food intake will increase the likelihood of recurrent binges. It is important you seek help from a professional.


What should I do if I think I have BED?

If you’re worried that you or someone you know is suffering from BED, it’s important to get treatment as early as possible. Those who struggle with BED may feel ashamed, which can make it difficult to seek help. It’s important to remember that there is no reason to feel ashamed and seeking help is a brave first step towards recovery. You can refer yourself to First Steps ED for support or request an appointment at your local GP to talk more about this. Remember that you are not alone and that there is support out there to help you to manage these feelings. Click here for more information on seeking treatment or support for binge eating disorder.



How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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