Binge Eating: Part 1 The nature of binge eating and Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating: Part 1
The nature of binge eating and Binge Eating Disorder

By: Chris Haltom

Dear Readers!

This is a very informative article by Dr Chris Haltom.  So many people suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, many sufferers who are on path of recovery find the mere thought of falling into cycle of Binge Eating very terrifying and this deters them from seeking recovery from their Eating Disorder. But please do bear in mind, that this is an illness and can be beaten. It takes time, effort, acknowledgement, early intervention and firm and unyielding progress toward full medical, emotional, and cognitive health.

Binge eating occurs in about 1/3 of those suffering from anorexia (Fairburn, 1995). Binge eating in the context of anorexia usually happens when disciplined attempts to restrict give way to uncontrolled eating.

By definition, all individuals with bulimia have binges. Typically a binge is followed by some method of “getting rid of” the consumed food, for example, by vomiting, laxative use, and excessive exercise. For some with bulimia, binge episodes constitute the only meals eaten. For others binge eating is interspersed with moderate or light eating. The most common ages of onset of bulimia have been found to be 13, 14, 15 and 16 years of age (p. 88, Fairburn, 1995).

Binge eating can become habitual and a difficult behavior habit to break. Binge eating is often alternated with either fasting or restricted food intake, regardless of the type of eating disorder. A pattern of alternating dieting and binge eating is both psychologically and physically self-perpetuating.

There is no single cause of binge eating problems. There are multiple possible social, psychological and cultural factors which can trigger and maintain binge eating. Two interesting predisposing factors thought to be closely linked to the development of binge eating problems are genetic inheritance (Bulik et al, 2002) and dieting. Dieting typically takes the form of avoiding eating altogether, restricting the total amount eaten, or avoiding certain foods or types of foods. Dieting can lead to binge eating because restricted food intake often leads to strong physiological urges to eat and binge.


Fairburn, Christopher (1995) Overcoming Binge Eating, New York, The Guilford Press.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), “Working Together” Newsletter, Summer 2001, Summer 2003.

Bulik, Cynthia M. et al (2003) “Genetic and environmental contributions to obesity and binge eating,” The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33:3, 293-298.

Eating Disorders Review (2003) “Binge eating can begin early in life,” Gurze Publications, 14:3, 7