Overeating from time to time is fairly normal, especially during a large holiday meal like Thanksgiving. But for those with binge eating disorder it can become a regular occurrence, in that they may “frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating,” says the Mayo Clinic.
While many people with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, this is not always case; some individuals may be of normal body weight. This, along with their ability to hide their symptoms, can make it challenging to identify those with the condition, but here are six behavioral and emotional signs to look out for.
1. Eating Unusually Large Amounts of Food
One of the primary signs of binge eating disorder is that the individual will consume an abnormally large amount of food within a short time, typically a two-hour period. In some cases, MedicalNewsToday.com says, “10,000 to 20,000 calories of food may be consumed in one bout of bingeing,”
According to EatingDisorderHope.com, the reason for this bingeing is they never experience satiation “the state of being satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed.”
2. Feeling Out of Control
People with binge eating disorder will often feel that their eating behavior is out of control. They may feel as though they are unable to stop eating, or that they can’t control what is being eaten.
Additionally, they will often eat very rapidly during a binge episode. Such behaviors may be difficult to detect, however, as people with binge eating disorder tend to eat normally around others, only gorging when they are alone.
3. Eating Even When Full or Not Hungry
As mentioned before, those with binge eating disorder often feel as though they are unable to stop eating and, as a result, tend to consume far more than they should. It is not uncommon for them to continue eating well beyond the point of feeling full.
They may also find themselves binging even when they’re not hungry. In some cases, this is due to feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating.
4. Eating Alone or in Secret
People with binge eating disorder will frequently eat alone or in secret to avoid the embarrassment of others seeing how much they consume. It is also common for them to stockpile or hoard food to eat during these binge episodes.
As these behaviors are kept so secretive, Helpguide.org says family and friends should keep an eye out for warning signs, such as “finding piles of empty food packages and wrappers, cupboards and refrigerators that have been cleaned out, or hidden stashes of high-calorie or junk food.”
5. Feeling Shame and Guilt About Eating
Binge eating disorder also causes affected individuals to feel a great deal of shame, guilt and disgust about their behaviors, especially right after a bingeing episode. To avoid judgement from others, they may resort to hiding empty food containers.
Anxiety and depression are also common signs of the disorder, to the point where the individual may self-harm or attempt suicide.
6. Frequent Dieting
Individuals with binge eating disorder often have very low self-esteem, and tend to feel a great deal of embarrassment about their physical appearance. As a result, they may frequently go on diets.
In some individuals, this can result in fluctuations in weight, while others may struggle to lose any at all. And the Mayo Clinic indicates that restricting their diet “may simply lead to more binge eating.”