What are the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder?

What are the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder?

What are the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder?

Onion rings, burger and hot dogs with fried chicken french fries and pizza on a plate (overeating concept).Signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder are largely behavioural or emotional. Flags of such an eating disorder can include:

1. Behavioural signs:

  • Consuming excess (larger quantities than is considered healthy or normal) food in a short period of time (i.e. excessive consumption in a 2-hour period)
  • Compulsive eating until achieving an uncomfortably full state (‘feeling stuffed’)
  • Continued eating, even when physically satiated (or full)
  • Stress or emotional eating
  • Abnormal eating patterns (a person may eat at odd times, appear to have no set mealtimes, fast sporadically, eat lightly during the day and binge later at a more discreet time, or appear uncomfortable eating around others)
  • Restrictive dieting (a person may adopt new diets often and cut out entire food groups), eating very specific foods only (unbalanced nutrition) or meal skipping (all of which create an increased urge to binge)
  • Rapidly paced eating (during a binge)
  • Developing abnormal eating rituals (chewing excessively or disallowing different foods to touch on the plate)
  • Eating during periods of the day when not compelled to by actual hunger
  • Eating / binging when alone (or in secret) and making efforts to ‘hide the evidence’
  • Becoming evasive when questioned about eating habits
  • Hoarding food in odd places (stockpiling favoured binge foods such as cookies and biscuits, crisps or sweets, often in easy access points such as in room cupboards or drawers – not only in kitchen storage)
  • Binging episodes occur multiple times in a week (or at least once a week for 3 months or longer)
  • Frequently checking one’s appearance in the mirror, looking for aesthetic flaws

2. Emotional / psychological signs:

  • Having a false sense of feeling ‘starved’ (rationalising a need to eat unnecessarily)
  • Feelings of helplessness, anxiousness, anger, remorse, guilt, disgust, distress, embarrassment or shame related to binge patterns / habits
  • Displaying fearful behaviours when having to eat in front of others, especially in public places (i.e. restaurants)
  • Social isolation (withdrawing from social events, people or other activities)
  • Finding it difficult to cope with negative emotions / feelings
  • Creating deliberate ‘schedules’ for binges (making time in one’s lifestyle for binging)
  • A history of depression or depressive episodes (moodiness, avoidance behaviours and irritability)
  • A sense that one’s eating behaviour is out of control (but exhibiting a lack of willpower to stop)
  • A history of dieting and negative feelings associated with a lack of achieving weight loss
  • Extreme dissatisfaction with body image and low self-esteem
  • Highly sensitive reactions to comments regarding food, weight, exercise and body image
  • Intense preoccupation with food, weight and body image

3. Physical signs: 

  • Weight problems (or up and down fluctuations in weight)
  • Sleeping problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Digestive issues and difficulties (stomach cramps, constipation or acid reflux)
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Irregular or infrequent menstrual periods (women)

4. Common personality traits:

  • Perfectionism (specifically towards oneself)
  • A tendency to avoid conflict
  • People pleasing behaviours
  • Controlling behaviours and a lack of flexibility
  • ‘All or nothing’ attitude
  • Impulsive behaviours (randomly acting without forethought)
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