Binge-eating disorder is characterized by persistent episodes of binge eating. This is different than overeating which is defined as consuming more food than your body needs at a given time (e.g. eating because the food is available and is appetizing). Binge-eating is less common and is marked by psychological distress. It is a disorder when the bingeing episodes occur at least once a week for three months or more.
A binge-eating episode is characterized by:
- The consumption of an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time
- Feeling out of control over what and how much is eaten and when to stop
- The binge-eating episode also includes three or more of the following: eating very quickly, eating regardless of hunger cues or level of fullness, eating until uncomfortably full, and eating alone.
- There are no compensating behaviours to make up for caloric intake
- Feelings of shame, guilt, and depression