Binge eating is an eating disorder where you feel compelled to overeat.
Binge eaters usually eat large quantities of food, including when they're not hungry, in a short period of time and in private. They feel they have no control over their overeating.
The bingeing is followed by feelings of guilt or disgust at having eaten so much. This self-loathing highlights underlying psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, which can be a cause and an effect of the disorder.
Binge eating is different to occasional over-indulgence, which is not an eating disorder.
Who is affected?
Anyone can be affected by binge eating, but it is more common in women than men and usually starts in the teenage years or early twenties.
How is binge eating different to bulimia?
Binge eaters and people with bulimia often eat until they are uncomfortably full.
Bulimics then purge the food they have eaten by making themselves vomit or by taking laxatives. People who binge eat do not purge themselves, and feel ashamed of their behaviour, whether they are overweight or not.
Why do people binge eat?
Binge eating is a mental disorder, but it is also triggered by the effect that overeating has on the body. The Causes section (above) has more information on this.
Vomiting is when you bring up the contents of your stomach through your mouth.
Mental refers to the processes in the mind.
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Glucose (or dextrose) is a type of sugar that is used by the body to produce energy.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps the body to control blood sugar levels.
The brain controls thought, memory and emotion. It sends messages to the body controlling movement, speech and senses.
A craving is a powerful, often uncontrollable urge for a particular thing.