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What Are Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorders?

Binge eating disorder can happen at any age, but it’s often not recognized until adulthood. It’s similar to bulimia nervosa, but without purging activities. Victims of binge eating disorder eat large amounts of food at least twice a week, often in a relatively short time.

Bingeing only at night isn’t uncommon and may not be an eating disorder. People with Night Eating Syndrome (NES) are often more than 100 pounds overweight, and eat more than half of their daily calories between dinner and breakfast.

Unlike Binge Eating Disorder (BED), which is characterized by brief episodes, NES continues for many hours. Nocturnal Sleep-related Eating Disorder (NS-RED) is another kind of binge eating, but the person is often not fully conscious when eating. NS-RED is believed to be a sleep disorder, not an eating disorder.

Those who suffer from NES eat to escape from emotions, yet food makes them feel out of control. They often avoid social situations where food may be served but are preoccupied — even obsessed — with food, dieting, and their body weight. Most binge eaters are overweight or obese and may have obesity-related disorders such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, or type 2 diabetes.

Do you (or someone you know) have any of the following symptoms? The more “yes” answers, the greater the likelihood that you (or that someone you know) have binge eating disorder.

  • Frequently eats an abnormally large amount of food in a discrete period of time.

  • Eats rapidly.

  • Eats to the point of being uncomfortably full.

  • Often eats alone and in private to hide eating; in front of others, eats only small amounts.

  • Shows irritation and disgust with self after overeating.

  • Does not purge by vomiting, abusing laxatives, or vigorously exercising.

  • Is usually sedentary.

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