Binge Eating 6 min read

What Drives Binge Eating, and How to Treat It


Topics Included:

  • What is binge eating disorder
  • What are the symptoms
  • How is it diagnosed
  • What causes binge eating disorder
  • How can it be treated

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder. Although often overlooked, about 1.25% of adult women and 0.42% of adult men suffer from it.1 A much larger percentage of teens and adults have episodes of binge eating or loss-of-control eating—which is the feeling that you cannot control your eating regardless of how much food you actually eat—but at a rate too low to meet the criteria for binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder is similar to binge drinking in that the person experiencing it is seeking to release inner stress and nervousness through the act of consuming something. People suffering from this disorder find themselves eating large quantities of food very quickly, even when not hungry. They feel driven to eat more and more until they feel uncomfortable. 

A binge eating episode is often driven by misleading pain signals our brain naturally releases as a coping mechanism to stress. Yet, people suffering from this behavioural disorder are ultimately left feeling worse. When someone experiences a binge eating episode it is commonly followed by sentiments of guilt and self-defeat. Over time this can lead to a feeling of powerlessness and depression.

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Read about our 'Overcome Binge Eating Hypnotherapy Package' Here

In this article, we will address some of the reasons why binge eating should not be ignored. BED is a treatable condition, but can last for years and be detrimental to physical and mental health if left untreated

We will also explore some of the triggers that can set off episodes of binge eating and address ways you can overcome binge eating episodes before they take control of your mind and body.

Symptoms of BED

If you think you may suffer from BED it is essential to take control as soon as you see the tell-tale signs, which include:

● Snacking at regular intervals in the day
● Eating when you don’t feel hungry
● Overeating until you are beyond feeling full, often with discomfort
● Eating quickly for stints of half an hour to an hour
● Eating with no planned mealtimes, skipping meals to binge instead
● Eating alone because you’re embarrassed to eat in front of others
● Sense of a lack of control when eating
● Feeling guilty and distressed afterwards
● Low self-esteem
● Withdrawing from friends and family
● Always shopping for snacks (high food bills)
● Hoarding and hiding food
● Fluctuations in weight
● Overweight
● Occasional forced purging (bulimia)

Binge eating disorder (BED) should not be confused with overeating. Anyone can overeat on a given occasion. For example, you’re on holiday, helping yourself to the all-inclusive buffet. It’s delicious, so you allow yourself to ‘seconds,’ regretting it later when you feel overfull and uncomfortable.

This means you’ve overeaten. Someone who suffers from BED will do this much more regularly, sometimes every day.

Characteristically, they will feel a 'high' when they first start eating. However, it quickly changes to a feeling of guilt and low self-esteem.

How is it diagnosed?

Although it can occur at any time, BED typically starts in the late teens to early twenties. 

To be diagnosed, a person must have had at least one binge eating episode per week for a minimum of three months (1, 2Trusted Source).

It can range in severity from mild (which is 1-3 binge eating episodes per week) to extreme (14 or more episodes per week) (1, 2Trusted Source).

Unlike bulimia, a person with BED does not throw up, take laxatives, or over-exercise to try and counteract a binging episode.

Like other eating disorders, it’s more common in women than men. However, it’s more common among men than other types of eating disorders (17Trusted Source).

What causes binge eating disorder?

The causes of BED are not well understood but likely due to a variety of risk factors. They are described as follows by Healthline:

  • Genetics. People with BED may have increased sensitivity to dopamine, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. There is also strong evidence that the disorder is inherited (1, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
  • Gender. BED is more common in women than in men. In the United States, 3.6% of women experience BED at some point in their lives, compared with 2.0% of men. This may be due to underlying biological factors (4Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
  • Changes in the brain. There are indications that people with BED may have changes in brain structure that result in a heightened response to food and less self-control (4Trusted Source).
  • Body size. Almost 50% of people with BED have obesity, and 25–50% of patients seeking weight loss surgery meet the criteria for BED. Weight problems may be both a cause and result of the disorder (5Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
  • Body image. People with BED often have a very negative body image. Body dissatisfaction, dieting, and overeating contribute to the development of the disorder (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12).
  • Binge eating. Those affected often report a history of binge eating as the first symptom of the disorder. This includes binge eating in childhood and the teenage years (4Trusted Source).
  • Emotional trauma. Stressful life events, such as abuse, death, separation from a family member, or a car accident, are risk factors. Childhood bullying due to weight may also contribute (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
  • Other psychological conditions. Almost 80% of people with BED have at least one other psychological disorder, such as phobias, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, or substance abuse (1, 8Trusted Source). [2]

An episode of binge eating can be triggered by stress, dieting, negative feelings relating to body weight or body shape, the availability of food, or boredom (1).

How can binge eating disorder be treated?

Traditional therapy options for BED include cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, dialectical behaviuor therapy, weight loss therapy, and medication. These may be carried out on a one-to-one basis, in a group setting, or in a self-help format.

In some people, just one type of therapy may be required, while others may need to try different combinations until they find the right fit. [2]

Illustration of a brain in color

Here at Clear Minds we have created an alternative option for people to address their BED, with our 'Overcome Binge Eating Hypnotherapy Package'. Hypnotherapy is a safe and effective form of therapy to treat all kinds of behavioural disorders and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. It can assist in controlling addiction to substances like sugar, alcohol and smoking and can also be used as a method to treat more acute disorders like binge eating.

Hypnotherapy works by relaxing your mind into a state of deep concentration, during which your thoughts are open to change. Positive imagery and suggestive language is used that causes your mind to switch itself to a different, calmer state, and from here it is much easier to control behaviours and habits that our conscious brain seems unable to stop. 

If you think that you might suffer from a binge eating disorder (BED) and you want to take control by eliminating it for good, you can! Please take a look at our excellent hypnotherapy package designed to help you overcome this disorder quickly and effectively. Hypnotherapy is a fast and easy way to take control in a day without depending on medication.

Overcome Binge Eating Hypnotherapy Package

Our hypnotherapy sessions will naturally boost your positivity while
knocking out those dark thoughts that control you. Jump on board and find your escape with hypnotherapy today.

 Overcome binge eating hypnotherapy package


6 therapies are included in this package:

  • Stop Binge Eating Hypnotherapy
  • Overcome Binge Eating Sleep Edition Hypnotherapy
  • Binge Eating Mindset Shift - Change your perception of food
  • Healthy relationship with food - Mindset Hypnotherapy
  • Binge Eating Booster Session Hypnotherapy
  • Control Sugar Consumption Hypnotherapy

Read more about our 'Overcome Binge Eating Hypnotherapy Package' Here


 [1] Udo T, Grilo CM. Prevalence and correlates of DSM-5-defined eating disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. Biological Psychiatry. 2018;84(5):345–354. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.03.014


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Stop Binge Eating Hypnotherapy