Can’t Stop Eating? How You Can Overcome Binge Eating Disorder

Updated August 05, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC

We all eat when we feel hungry and, on occasion, sometimes when we’re not. However, some people may overeat regularly. Even though it makes them feel bad both before and after consuming food, they may continue to engage in the behavior over time and can’t stop eating. Overeating may not be a choice. Instead, someone experiencing these symptoms may be dealing with binge eating disorder. If you think that you may have binge eating disorder, it can be overcome. In this guide, we will explore what symptoms come with this disorder and how you can start to recover from its effects.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

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Binge eating disorder is a type of eating disorder in which a person will frequently eat large amounts of food at a time. Those who have binge eating disorder will often feel out of control when they take in excessive amounts of food and will often feel sad and ashamed of their behavior after they have engaged in it. However, binge eating disorder will often come with far more symptoms and effects than can be featured in a summary of the disorder. Here are some of the symptoms and effects that you may experience if you are dealing with binge eating disorder.

The Physical And Mental Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders will generally have both mental and physical symptoms experienced by those who have them. The symptoms associated with binge eating disorder include:

  • Feeling that one does not have control of oneself when they are consuming large quantities of food
  • Consuming far more than the average person would within a given period (Binge eating disorder) with binging behavior at least once a week for at least three months. Additionally, those who believe that they have binge eating disorder must experience at least three of the symptoms listed below this condition.
    • Eating quicker than normal
    • Engaging in binging behavior despite not feeling hungry
    • Refusing to eat with others because one is embarrassed about the amount that they are eating
    • Feelings of shame, depression, or disgust after binge eating food
    • Eating until one feels full to the point of discomfort
    • Feeling distressed after binging

Additionally, binge eating disorder must not feature characteristics of other disorders. For example, those who have bulimia nervosa may engage in binging behavior. However, once they have realized that they have overeaten, they will attempt to expel it from their body through vomiting or taking laxatives. Individuals who have binge eating disorder will not attempt to physically purge. 

It's important to note that if you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it is not your fault. No matter what you've experienced, you deserve to have a healthy relationship with food. A professional can help you get there. 

The Warning Signs Of A Developing Or Ongoing Binge Eating Disorder

Being able to spot certain behaviors that indicate a binge eating disorder can help you create awareness of your disorder and break free of it. Some of the warning signs to watch out for (or ask others about) include:

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  • Empty containers and food wrappers may often evidence a significant decrease in food supplies in the home
  • Having a fear of eating with others or feeling uncomfortable where one is in a situation eating with others
  • Developing a habit of stealing or hoarding foods
  • Creating a schedule built around binging sessions or rituals
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities, either to binge or because of issues with self-perception and mood
  • Trying out various diets (often returning to binging behavior and trying out a new diet later on)
  • Having an obsession with one’s body and weight
  • Erratic eating behaviors include skipping meals, not eating on a schedule, replacing meals with snacks, and alternating between not eating at all or dieting
  • Eating large amounts of food privately
  • Having strange behaviors surrounding food and the act of consuming it
  • Frequent changes with weight gain and weight loss
  • Experiencing low self-esteem and confidence
  • Issues with focus and concentration
  • Issues with the stomach as a result of binge eating

Of course, certain behaviors may not be so easy to spot if we are looking for them within ourselves. If you believe you may have binge eating disorder, ask your friends and family if they have noticed certain behaviors on this list. This can help you receive further verification before you start seeking help for your eating disorder.

The Long-Lasting Impact Of Binge Eating Disorder On An Individual

Sometimes taking the first steps towards the recovery of any type of disorder begins with learning more about the long-term repercussions that can come without treatment. At first glance, binge eating disorder may not seem too worrisome to those who have it. However, it is the long-term health consequences that come with it that can be very concerning. People with binge eating disorder can experience several health problems, such as:

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  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • The increased risk of some forms of cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disease

Although this is not an extensive list of potential health complications, it does give us a glimpse into how impactful this disorder can be. Remember, these are only health problems that can develop over time. It is more than possible to treat binge eating disorder. However, we must first seek help to do so.

“I Can’t Stop Eating”: How You Can Begin to Recover From Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders can often be more complicated than other kinds of disorders. On one level, you have a relationship with food that needs to be repaired. This may begin with reaching out to a nutritional counselor who can help you lose weight and develop healthier eating habits. Changing your relationship with food can help you start changing the impact that it has on you.

However, eating disorders may not come on their own. People dealing with binge eating disorder may also be dealing with underlying mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. These mental health problems can have a significant impact on your overall state of mind, causing you to engage in binge eating to deal with some of the negative emotions that you may be feeling.

Generally, treatment for these disorders will include a combination of medication and therapy. Medication can alter the moods that you feel while therapy will equip you with the coping mechanisms that you will use to navigate these emotions that you feel. It can also help you build your self-esteem and confidence to feel better about yourself as you move forward with treatment.

If you live in a major city, there are good chances that therapists and counselors are abundant, especially if you need to visit a treatment center where you can receive care explicitly designed for those with eating disorders. However, those who do not live where resources are everywhere may find it hard to connect with the right therapist. This can make receiving counseling difficult if they have to travel farther for help.

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The good news is that there are simpler alternatives in this day and age if you do not have easy access to therapy. One solution that you should look into is BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that is designed to make counseling easier and more affordable for everyone. If you don’t have the right resources near you, you can quickly jump on BetterHelp and connect with a certified therapist who is the right fit for your needs. You can get all of the benefits of traditional counseling with the convenience that comes with seeking help online, which makes it perfect for those who may not have the time or ability to find a therapist near them.

What’s important to remember as you navigate this process is that the potential for relapse will be there, especially in the initial stages of recovery. Learning how to change your behavior is not a one-time thing. Instead, it is something that you will become more successful over time. If you slip up and engage in usual habits, don’t get down on yourself. As long as you remain optimistic about the future and work towards your well-being, you are taking the necessary, positive steps forward. There are resources out there available to help if you or your loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, and having a hard time navigating.

Binge eating disorder can be a difficult eating disorder to deal with. However, wherever you may be in your journey, it is certainly not something that you have to deal with alone. If you believe that binge eating disorder may be impacting your life, the information above will provide you with a clearer picture of what this disorder looks like, how it is affecting you, and what you can do to begin receiving treatment for it.


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