What is binge-eating disorder

What is binge-eating disorder?

BED is over three times more common than anorexia and bulimia, although there is far less research done in the field of BED. 60% of people with binge-eating disorder are women and 30% of people actively searching for weight loss treatments have the symptoms of BED.

In 2013 binge-eating disorder (BED) became an official diagnosis whereas it was previously listed under EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) and some insurance companies would not cover its treatment.

What is the criteria for a BED diagnosis?

To be diagnosed with binge-eating disorder an individual will meet the following criteria:

On average, at least 1x/week for 3 months, he/she will engage in binge eating episodes which are characterized by:

Eating within a distinct period of time, typically 2 hours, an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat under similar circumstances, and

Feeling out of control over the eating during that time

A binge-eating episode is associated with at least 3 of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortable full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward

The binge eating has resulted in distress and there are not recurrent uses of inappropriate compensatory measures such as seen in bulimia nervosa and he/she does not currently have anorexia or bulimia nervosa.

What does treatment for BED look like?

Treatment for binge eating disorder is going to depend on the severity of the disorder. As with anorexia and bulimia, there are levels of care for BED. Some individuals will be able to work on the behaviors and underlying causes in outpatient therapy, with someone specializing in eating disorder, but others will need to seek higher levels of care such as residential, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient. You can read more about the levels of care here.

Treatment is going to vary depending on the therapist and the client. Typically, there will be some psycho-education around the nature of eating disorders and the cycle of binge eating disorder, some cognitive-behavioral work looking at the thoughts and feeling surrounding the behaviors, and emotion focused therapy identifying the feelings that trigger and result from the binges.

The biggest myth about BED

People with BED are all overweight…FALSE! It is estimated that only 2/3 of people with BED live in larger bodies.

If any of this sounds like you and you think you may be suffering from binge-eating disorder, there is help. There is a life for you free from the chains of the binge, where you can have a peaceful relationship with food and your body. If you are in the Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR area and would like to schedule a FREE 15-minute phone consultation with me, please call 360-284-7008 or click the button below to fill out an online form.

Information retrieved from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 2016) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, 2013.


Tamara Werner

Tamara Werner is a counselor, author, speaker, and activist. Her private practice, Get Centered Counseling in Vancouver WA, helps women with food and body issues learn to love themselves, their body, their life, and their relationships. Her life’s work is steeped in personal experience, having fifteen years in recovery for anorexia, in addition to being a breast cancer survivor. An up and coming force in the counseling community, Tamara has been published in a textbook called Treatment Strategies for Substance and Process Addictions, and has sat on a panel at the American Counseling Association Conference, where she spoke to her peers on strategies and tools to use with clients struggling with eating disorders. Having a deep, personal understanding of what it takes to recover from this condition, she seeks to be an example to those she treats, to let them know that recovery is possible.