Is what you are doing Binge Eating?

I have worked with many clients who come to me nervous and embarrassed even to use the words "binge". They have a sense that their relationship with food is not helpful or healthy and they know that they are over-eating from time to time. Yet often they are not sure whether what they are doing would be categorised as binge-eating.

Now firstly, as a professional working in the field of nutrition and mental health - I have noticed that binge-eating is actually incredibly common. So if this is something that you are or have been struggling with - there is nothing to be embarrassed about at all. Even those who come to me for help with just weight loss or achieving a healthier lifestyle come to realise that they are binge-eating from time-to-time. Perhaps surprisingly many of those working in the same industry as I do - personal trainers, body builders, nutritionists, dieticians often also suffer with binge-eating. Why? - Well because binge-eating often begins after a period of dieting, being very disciplined with food or extreme food restriction and who is probably harsher on themselves with their food choices that those in the exercise and nutrition industry.

So what is binge-eating? Well for some it is something that they only experience from time-to-time and for others it becomes a habit that shows up more regularly. When it presents more regularly - it can cause someone to fall under the diagnosis of a condition called Binge Eating Disorder or BED. BED was only recognised as a condition in 2013 - so people haven't been talking about bingeing for very long.

Here are the diagnostic criteria for getting a diagnosis of BED:

Criteria 1:

Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterised by both of the following:

(i) Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.

(ii) The sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)

Criteria 2:

Binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following: (i) Eating much more rapidly than normal (ii) Eating until feeling uncomfortably full (iii) Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry (iv) Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating (v) Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Criteria 3:

Marked distress regarding binge eating is present