Thanksgiving table spread with a toast

When does overeating become a problem?

In nearly every culture around the world, food is an integral part of celebration. From Thanksgiving turkey to birthday cake, what we eat on special occasions often seems just as important as the occasion itself.

Indulging too much at parties and get-togethers is incredibly common. We enjoy food and drink along with the company of family and friends, leaving the festivities a bit too full, promising to eat healthier tomorrow. The same thing may also happen when we dine at certain restaurants or go to events like baseball games or carnivals, where there is an overabundance of tempting treats. This is normal behavior and shouldn’t impact a person’s health in any significant way, as long as it doesn’t happen frequently.

But unfortunately for some, overeating is a serious problem. According to the National Eating Disorders Association binge eating disorder, one of the newest formally recognized disorders, is surprisingly common in both men and women of all ages. Affected individuals experience episodes of overeating that are much more than the occasional overindulgence on the holidays. Accompanied by intense feelings of embarrassment and disgust, these episodes cause severe emotional distress and have negative physical ramifications.

How can you tell when too much is too much? It isn’t always easy to draw the line between general overeating and binge eating disorder, but there are some signs that can help you determine whether or not you or a loved on is at risk. While only a doctor can provide a formal diagnosis, the following list of symptoms can act as a guide for your next step – specifically whether or not to seek the help of a professional.

Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

Food for a party, or party of one? Binge eaters typically consume far more food than the average person during each episode.

  • Recurrent Episodes

    If you suffer from binge eating disorder, your episodes of overeating will occur frequently, at least once a week for a time period of 3 months or longer.

  • Eating Large Quantities

    A hallmark of binge eating is the large amount of food consumed during each episode, much more than the average person would eat in one sitting.

  • Rapid Eating

    Binge eaters typically eat much more quickly than the average person, consuming large quantities of food in short time periods.

  • Uncomfortable Fullness

    Those who suffer from this disorder will continue to eat until they are uncomfortably full, sometimes to the point of feeling ill.

  • Lack of Control

    Individuals with this disorder cannot control their habit and feel powerless during each episode.

  • Severe Emotional Distress

    Sufferers will also feel extremely embarrassed, disgusted or guilty at their behavior.

  • Lack of Purging

    Unlike bulimia, binge eating disorder is not typically accompanied by fasting or purging.

About Lehigh Center

The Lehigh Center is the largest independently run research facility in the Lehigh Valley. Our qualified physicians conduct clinical trials  to evaluate investigational treatments for specific diseases, including binge eating disorder. If you are interested in leaning more about our current studies, please click the link below.