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How to Manage Binge Eating

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How to Manage Binge Eating

Binge eating, or binge eating disorder, is the term given to overeating on a regular basis. We might all feel like we overeat at times, if we graze for a lot of the day, snack between meals, eat large meals and eat the kids’ leftovers as we’re preparing our own meals. 


But sometimes, binge eating can be more than eating too much on occasion. If it becomes a habit, it can take over your life and can be a sign of an eating disorder that needs medical attention. 


What is binge eating? 


If you’re eating a lot of food in a short period of time, to the point where you feel uncomfortably full, then you may have binge eating disorder. Other symptoms of the condition include:


  • Eating a large amount of food, even when you’re not hungry
  • Planning a binge in advance by ordering or stockpiling food
  • Bingeing alone in secret, sometimes at odd times of the day
  • Bingeing on “special” foods 
  • A feeling of loss of control over how much you eat 
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed and depressed after eating 
  • Purging by making yourself sick or overusing laxatives after bingeing 

Binge eating doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will become overweight or obese. This is due to some people purging after bingeing to rid their body of the food they feel guilty about eating. 


It can affect anyone, at any stage of their life. But most commonly, binge eating disorder begins when a sufferer is in their late teenage years or early 20s. 


What causes binge eating? 


The exact cause of binge eating is still unknown. But it’s thought that various events and circumstances can contribute to developing binge eating disorder. These include:


  • Struggling with depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Feeling pressure to look a certain way either to “fit in” with society or because of your job
  • Being judged or made fun of due to your weight or body shape
  • Having a family member with the condition
  • Having a history of sexual or other abuse
  • Having a history of alcohol misuse or drug addiction 

How to manage binge eating


If you’re on a health and fitness journey that includes wanting to lose weight or maintain your weight, but you struggle with binge eating, then it can feel like an endless struggle. 


Having binge eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s thought to affect around 2% of the population. It’s difficult to manage binge eating on your own and you’ll need help from professionals to truly overcome it. 


If you think you may have binge eating disorder or any kind of disordered eating, you recognise that you may be in a regular binge-purge cycle or you’re concerned about your eating patterns in any way, make an appointment to speak to your GP. 


Your GP can refer you to someone who specialises in eating disorders. They can help by offering guided self-help exercises and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This can help you understand why you have binge eating disorder and how you can make the changes you need. You can also get help online from charities such as Beat or by calling 0808 801 0677. 



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