Binge eating is not just a habit. There is an actual disease called “binge eating disorder” in which you eat abnormally large amounts of food with an inability to stop eating when your body is technically full. This is a dangerous, life-threatening condition, but help is available and recovery is possible.
While you can overeat every once in a while, binge eaters consistently eat too much but do not use laxatives or purge to get rid of the food.
Many people who have binge eating disorder have weight problems but some are of a normal weight.
The signs and symptoms of having binge eating disorder include the following:
- Having out of control eating behaviors
- Eating huge amounts of food over a short period of time.
- Eating even when you aren’t hungry.
- Eating rapidly when you binge eat.
- Eating in secret or when you are alone.
- Feeling ashamed, guilty, or depressed about your eating behavior.
- Always going on a diet, usually without success.
Risk Factors for Binge Eating
There are some factors in your life that can increase your chances of having a binge-eating problem. These include the following:
- Psychological problems. Most people who have this problem have a negative self-image and don’t feel positive about their accomplishments and skills. You can overeat because you are bored, stressed out, or have a poor image of your body.
- Family history. If you have a first-degree relative such as a sibling or a parent who suffer from binge eating difficulties, you might be at an increased risk yourself. It may mean that there are some hereditary factors that relate to developing this type of eating disorder.
- Over dieting. If you have a long history of dieting as far back as childhood, this may have been a way of compensating for times in which you were otherwise overeating.
- You can have binge eating disorder at any age but most people have an onset of the disorder in their teens or in their early twenties.