What is Binge Eating?

Meaning of Binge Eating

Every compulsion hides an impulse that cannot be controlled. There are several types: binge, robbery and even sexual. Binge eating has been investigated by doctors since 1959. It is considered a psychiatric disorder, along with bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

This disorder can reveal more or less seriousness in their expressions and can be a secondary effect of the disorders mentioned above, or also be part of the binge eating – BED – as this imbalance in eating is officially known.

Its most serious manifestation is expressed in English as ‘ binge eating ‘, a term that has not yet been adequately translated into our language.

It can be described as a phase in which the subject eats an abundant amount of food, in a minimum of time, without being able to control his actions. Soon after, he goes through moments of sadness, regret and self-condemnation.

According to expert data, some people reach 10,000 calories in a single ‘binge’ attack.

The diagnosis of ‘binge eating’ or BED is based on the presence of increasingly consistent incidents of binge eating. The latter, to be so characterized, must present the ingestion of a large amount of food in a given period of time, as short as possible; and a feeling of total lack of control over this attitude, of not even being able to stop this process.

The person, during this crisis, eats faster than in any normal circumstance; eats until it causes discomfort in his body; devours a large amount of food even when not hungry; she feels that his behavior is not normal, so he isolates himself from others to eat; he goes through moments of self-rejection, guilt, and even depression, after eating this way.

When the compulsion becomes a “binge”, the patient goes through this period of disturbance for at least two days a week, for six months.


The category of binge eating disorder was created in 1991. Not all binge eating falls into this more severe form.

A person can, for some time, eat excessively, due to anxiety, lack, as compensation in case of diets, without presenting the characteristics described above. Unlike patients with this problem, she will not resort to purging, long fasts, excessive physical exertion, or other compensatory devices.

There needs to be mainly a loss of control, a feeling of not being able to choose, and intense suffering after the crisis. Many people eat so much, without being able to stop, that they vomit, because the stomach can’t handle so much food.

During treatment, the patient needs to go through an intense learning process, to interact normally with all kinds of food. Good therapy may also be necessary, because ‘binge eating’ is often associated with some psychic and organic factors.

Someone, for example, who is on a diet, can give in to the desire to eat something that, for the moment, is taboo. In addition to other causes, this attitude can lead to loss of food control. Nowadays, food recipes avoid the prohibition of certain foods, so as not to provoke this type of temptation.


As for organic factors, serotonin, a vehicle for transmitting messages between nerve cells in the brain, plays a decisive role in our eating attitudes. Carbohydrates, for example, naturally stimulate the production of these neurotransmitters.

When there is a drastic reduction of this substance, due to a lasting lack of carbohydrates, the person loses his most important reins of the act of eating, thus opening space for the invasion of the compulsion.

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