Overeating vs. Binge Eating

By Toby D. Goldsmith, MD

About one-third of all Americans are overweight, and not all of them are binge eaters. Most of us find ourselves eating too much at one time or another. At Thanksgiving, or other special occasions, it is very common for us to consume 1,000 or more calories at a sitting, and often to continue eating even after we feel full. Often we feel we have made a bit of a pig of ourselves. But that does not mean that every American has binge eating disorder.

What separates overeating from binge eating disorder is:

  • The binge eating episodes occur regularly, at least twice a week for six months.
  • The binge eater finds the episodes very upsetting. If there is no emotional upheaval over the meal, it is not a binge eating disorder.
  • The binge eater does not like to eat in public. To him, eating is a private behavior. To most other people, eating and mealtime is a time to be shared and enjoyed with friends and family.
  • The binge eater does not feel normal physiological cues like hunger and being full. He eats more from emotional cues, such as anger and sadness.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

Are any of these true for you?

  • Some days even though I wanted to stop eating, I just could not help myself.
  • Some days I surprise myself with how much food I can eat in just a very short span of time.
  • I feel so horrible and guilty after I realize how much food I have consumed.
  • It seems that every night I go to bed thinking, “Tomorrow I am going to begin my diet.”

 

APA Reference
Goldsmith, T. (2006). Overeating vs. Binge Eating. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/overeating-vs-binge-eating/000286
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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