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What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

"Eating disorder in which people compulsively overeat either continuously or on discrete binges but do not behave in ways to compensate for the overeating" (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). (Ab)normal psychology (6th ed), New York, NY: Mc Graw Hill Education


Risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk of developing binge-eating disorder include:

• Family history. You're much more likely to have an eating disorder if your parents or siblings have (or had) an eating disorder. This may indicate that inherited genes increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.

• Psychological issues. Most people who have binge-eating disorder feel negatively about themselves and their skills and accomplishments. Triggers for bingeing can include stress, poor body self-image, food and boredom.

•Dieting. Many people with binge-eating disorder have a history of dieting — some have dieted to excess dating back to childhood. Dieting or restricting calories during the day may trigger an urge to binge eat, especially if you have low self-esteem and symptoms of depression.

• Your age. Although people of any age can have binge-eating disorder, it often begins in the late teens or early 20s.


Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, a drug that's used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is now approved to treat binge-eating disorder in adults. This drug is the first FDA-approved medication to treat moderate to severe binge-eating disorder. Vyvanse is a stimulant and can be habit-forming and abused. Common side effects include dry mouth and insomnia, but more serious side effects can occur.

Several other types of medication may help reduce symptoms. Examples include:

* The anticonvulsant topiramate (Topamax).Normally used to control seizures, topiramate has also been found to reduce binge-eating episodes. However, there are side effects, such as dizziness and kidney stones, so discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Goals of treatment !

The goals for treatment of binge-eating disorder are to reduce eating binges, and, when necessary, to lose weight. Because binge eating is so entwined with shame, poor self-image and other negative emotions, treatment also may address these and other psychological issues.

By getting help for binge eating, you can learn how to feel more in control of your eating.

Myths & Facts about BINGE EATING

Myth: BED isn’t a real disorder. After all, who hasn’t eaten an entire bag of chips or a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting

Fact: Plenty of people eat too much once in a while, especially on holidays. For people with BED, though, overeating is an urge that causes major distress. It also happens regularly. People with the condition binge at least once a week for at least 3 months. It's a psychiatric disorder, according to the DSM, a manual used to identify mental health conditions.

People who binge eat are all overweight or obese.

Fact: You can’t tell if someone has BED just by looking at them. People who binge eat come in all shapes and sizes. How is this possible? Consider that the amount of food and the number of calories taken in during a “binge” -- as well as the rate at which calories are burned -- differs from person to person. Still, many people with the disorder also have trouble controlling their weight. It’s believed that about two-thirds of people with the disorder are obese.

Myth: BED is the same as bulimia.

Fact: On the surface, bulimia and BED seem similar. People with the disorders both compulsively eat large amounts of food, and as a result, feel distressed, ashamed, guilty, and out of control. There is one key difference between the conditions, though: After a binge, people with bulimia try to rid themselves of the extra calories by “purging,” which may mean vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics (water pills), or over-exercising.

Myth: Binge eating is just something women do when they’re feeling stressed

Fact: Other eating disorders mainly affect women. BED tends to strike both sexes. Men are about five times more likely to have BED than another eating disorder. And though the condition is linked to negative emotions and greater stress, remember that it’s not the same as an average case of overeating -- for example, polishing off a box of cookies after a breakup. Instead, people with the disorder feel compelled to binge regularly and aren’t able to control their behavior.

Myth: Only teenage girls get eating disorders like BED.

Fact: Teenagers aren’t immune. BED affects about 1.6% of adolescents.

But more so than other eating disorders, this one can strike at any time. The average age of onset is 25. Among men in particular, the condition is more likely to happen in midlife.

Myth: Binge eating isn’t dangerous like anorexia.

Fact: Just like other eating disorders, BED can put you at risk for serious health issues. Many people with it have other emotional or mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. They're more likely to develop substance abuse problems. And those people who are overweight or obese are also at risk for related issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Myth: It’s impossible to really help someone with an eating disorder like BED.

Fact: People who get treatment for eating disorders, including BED, can greatly improve their health and the quality of their life. Psychotherapy can help address the emotional issues that may contribute to the disorder and put people on a path toward healthier thoughts and habits. Prescription medications such as antidepressants, certain anti-seizure drugs, and possibly psychostimulants (drugs that induce alertness, wakefulness, and movement), such as amphetamine salts, have also been shown in early research studies to help -- particularly when combined with therapy. It might also help to work with a nutritionist or enroll in a weight loss program for people

Educational Requirements to Become an Eating Disorder Counselor

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, those interested in becoming eating disorder counselors, must obtain a minimum of a master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology. It is highly recommended that professionals eventually also earn a doctoral degree. In order to successfully gain admission to graduate school, experts recommend that you take both the general and psychology GRE examinations. Students can also study psychoanalytic therapy, body-image, personality, family therapy, and group dynamics. In order to earn a doctoral degree in the field of eating disorder counseling, students must successfully complete a dissertation.

Where eating disorder counselors work

•Eating disorder centers

• Mental health centers

• Treatment facilities

•Hospitals and clinics

•Individual and family services

•Residential care and nursing facilities

• Private practice

Work Experience Requirements for an Eating Disorder Counselor

In order to become an eating disorder counselor, you must successfully complete a clinical internship. During a supervised internship, aspiring clinicians will work directly with those suffering from eating disorders. Interns often work in low-cost clinics, and in state hospitals. Internships can also be conducted under the license of a professional already engaged in private practice. Interns will often attend meetings with the clinical treatment team, and make vitally important decisions about the care of their patients. Interns will also be required to help identify any non-compliance within clinical settings. In additional to direct involvement in the treatment and care of patients, internships also require the development of record-keeping skills.

Requirements for Licensure/Certification

Licensing requirements vary widely from state to state. Information related to state professional counselor licensing boards is available on American Counseling Association website.The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals offers a certification, however this certificate is not generally required to work in the field. Instead, eating disorder counselors must generally meet the same requirements for licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, or licensed clinical psychologists- depending on their level of educational achieve


My Very Personal Story: I Overcame Binge Eating



Lipoff, B. (2014). “My Very Personal Story: I Overcame Binge Eating”. Retrieved from

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). (Ab)normal psychology (6th ed), New York, NY: Mc Graw Hill Education

Segal, J, Ph.D., Segal, R, M.A., Smith, M. (2016).” Binge Eating Disorder”. Retrieved from

WebMD, LLC. (2016). “Binge Eating Disorder Myths and Facts” Retrieved from