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24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice

When most people think about eating disorders, they will usually have things such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa in mind. Those who suffer from these conditions are concerned about their weight and may have a distorted image of their body shape. However, while anorexics severely restrict the amount of food they eat, those with bulimia tend to have periods of binge eating followed by purging, where they try to get rid of the food they have eaten by making themselves sick or the excessive use of laxatives. Both bulimics and anorexics have a fear of putting on weight and may exercise for hours at a time in order to prevent this from happening.

Binge-Eating Disorder

Another eating disorder that many people do not realise exists is binge eating disorder. Those who suffer from this condition will binge-eat just as bulimics do but the difference is that these individuals do not purge themselves and do not exercise to excess to try to burn off the calories they have consumed.

Binge eaters tend to consume vast amounts of food and are unable to control their urges to eat. They will continue to eat even when they are full, and many will only stop when they feel sick.

The TLC reality series My 600lb Life documents the life of morbidly obese individuals in the United States and one episode features a mother of two weighing in at more than 600lbs. Dottie reveals how she continues to comfort eat despite knowing that her food addiction is killing her. She expresses fears that she will leave her children without a mother if she doesn’t stop, but she admits that she cannot control her impulses.

Coping Mechanism

Dottie says that she turned to food as a youngster after feeling rejected by her mother. She says, “I remember just eating and eating and eating so much. And I have just never been able to stop.”

She started overeating as a young child and quickly progressed to being an obese teenager. By the time she was eighteen years old, she weighed more than 300lbs.

As Dottie’s weight continued to spiral out of control, she began suffering health issues. Her personal life has also been greatly affected as she now struggles to walk even a few steps. She spends most of her time at home eating, even though she is fully aware that her dangerous habit could result in her death. Her friend says, “You have some people who use alcohol to bury a feeling or anger or sadness, Dottie just chose food. That is what gave her comfort.”

Characteristics of a Binge Eating Disorder

Besides an increase in weight, it may be difficult to tell if somebody is suffering from a binge eating disorder as they will hide their eating habits and tend to binge in secret. Nevertheless, most binge eaters will eat large amounts of food in one sitting and will continue to eat even when they are full. They may regularly eat alone or say they are on a diet without any signs of weight loss. They will also hide evidence of their binges, and may even hoard food.

Those with a binge eating disorder often say they lose all control once they start eating, and simply cannot stop until they are sick. They may then experience feelings of guilt, shame and disgust. Many binge eaters will feel self-loathing or hatred and will suffer from depression or anxiety.

Those with this eating disorder may become morbidly obese and suffer from related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If left untreated, the condition can progress and can eventually be fatal.

If you or a loved one needs help for a binge eating disorder, contact us here at Rehab Helper for information on how and where to access treatments.


  1. Daily Mail 
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