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Updated: Nov 1, 2020

The immortal lines by William Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, play on” are somewhat related to what I am going to talk about today. Slightly modifying the thought I’d say, “If food be the love of people, eat on”.

Dazed by this maze????? Don’t be! The reason is that there exist some people; and more so between us; who live to eat and not eat to live!! For them food is the be all and end all.

So I am sure after this philosophical amalgamated with the scientific description your appetite for this subject would have increased. Therefore, without further delay here comes the main course, oops! the main bone of contention that is emotional or binge eating.

Binge eating: defined officially!

Statistically speaking it has been found that to the tune of 1/3 of women who seek treatment to lose weight suffer from binge eating disorder. Still, this most common of the eating disorders - is much less recognized than the eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia.

If you want to find out if a person suffers from this disorder look for the following signs:-

  • The person has a voracious appetite and eats very large amounts of food quickly.

  • The person feels very hungry as quickly as two hours or so

  • This eating tendency is repeated more than twice weekly.

  • The tendency continues for a period of more than six months.

  • The person in question says that this tendency is out of his control.

Rendezvous: Overeating, emotional overeating and binge eating

Feeling of being put of control is the crux of the matter. During overeating you cannot control the hunger pangs while during emotional/binge eating you cannot control your emotions. Loss of control is what leads to binge eating. The idea behind binge eating is to escape into the world of happy things by eating to the heart’s content even more at all occasions. They fail to understand that this is not a respite from sadness but a warning of ill health. It is a habit rather than a rare occurrence. It becomes a way of life.

  1. Overeating –Occasional overeating sometimes indicates an inability to choose between healthy and unhealthy food. Also making healthy food selections, eating moderate portions or eating on a regular schedule are no longer there.

  2. Emotional Overeating – Emotional overeating is when people use food to cope with emotional ups and downs, rather than as a means of sustenance, nutrition and energy.

  3. Binge Eating Disorder - Most it is when we use food to fill an emotional void and may feel an ‘addiction’ to food. Emotional turmoil is calmed by binge eating although in the long run it breeds guilt, shame and disgust.

Causes: behind the scenes

Largely unknown specifically, the causes seem to tickle the scientists and people alike. Psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders are in tandem with this disorder. It occurs as a sister to these. The reasons for this differ from person to person dealing with family or work. Often binge eating is used as a way of controlling moods, particularly anxiety or depression. Potent triggers for binge eating are getting overly hungry, and a feeling of deprivation.

Common binge eating causes include:

  • Depression –1/2 of the binge eaters also suffer from depression.

  • Dieting - people who believe in dieting no end suffer from this disorder as well.

  • Coping skills – meditation or speaking out helps people with this disorder. It is like talking or being relaxed when emotional turmoil occurs

  • Biology – the biology behind human emotions and binge eating is being investigated by researchers. The metabolism and neurotransmitters are being studied extensively and correlation being established.

Binge eating is caused by the major reason of poor self esteem. Binge eating disorder is a prelude to bulimia, an eating disorder that also often goes unrecognized.

Do you have it in you: signs and symptoms

Just do a glance check at the following points and evaluate for yourself whether “you have it in you”! The binge eating bug has caught on or not!

  • There is a tendency to not being in control as to what or how much you are eating

  • Overindulge in food when stressed or in emotional turmoil.

  • There is a lingering feeling of disgust or guilt

  • There is the sniggering feeling of anxiety, loneliness and/or depression

  • Suicidal tendency development

  • Think 24 hours about food and body image

  • Eat till you drop tendency

  • Think in isolation and alone to keep out of spying eyes.

  • Gulp food and eat quickly

  • Diet and loose weight and eat and gain it

  • Flow with the diet wave- experiment with different diets

Binge eater brigade: who?

As with all other disorders there are some predisposing factors that make you prone to such type of illnesses. With binge eating this disorder affects all ages and both sexes, although women are more susceptible than men. About 10 to 15 percent of people who are mildly obese have binge eating disorder. The disorder is even more common in people who are severely obese.


A binge eater has lots of problems to face. They range from emotional, social, psychological and health related. The eating habits significantly affect self image and social life.

Social and emotional effects:

  • Not attend social gatherings and activities

  • Not go at work or college, university and school.

  • Stressed and have disturbed family life

  • Too obsessed with image

  • Poor self esteem and sulk over looks and weight

  • lazy

  • depressed and anxious

  • feelings of powerlessness overpowers the person

Health effects:

Binge eating disorder is very serious and could be a life-threatening condition that seriously affects emotional and physical health. Research has shown that people with binge eating disorder have more health problems, stress, trouble sleeping, and suicidal thoughts than people without an eating disorder.

  • blood pressure / hypertension

  • cholesterol

  • heart disease

  • type 2 diabetes / insulin dependant

  • gall bladder disease

  • osteoarthritis

  • breathlessness

  • liver and kidney problems

Therefore binge eating takes heavy toll on the person’s mind, body and soul!


The most important facet of any disorder diagnosis from the point of view of the victim is its treatment.

For overeating issues what is required is to make important lifestyle changes. Healthy eating is the prima facie change. Psychological help also helps.

For binge eating disorder, health professionals such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker can help. The physical and the psychological aspects of binge eating disorder are looked into and treated likewise. Improved self-esteem has major role to play.

Treatment options for binge eating disorder include:

  • Healthy eating focusses on following an eating schedule and get into the habit of healthy eating. It requires persistence but determination to do so pays off. One must strive to eat at regular intervals such that one doesn't feel hungry.

  • Adjusting the circadian rhythm by way of diet and lifestyle modifications is also an effective approach to tackle emotional hunger pangs at odd hours.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches various techniques to monitor and change eating behaviours. CBT involves changing responses to stressful situations, and learning to cope with challenges. CBT also emphasizes changing self perception about body shape and weight.

  • Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on relationships with family and friends and provides skills for making changes in problem areas.

  • Anti-depressants can help alleviate sadness and despair.

  • Self-help groups, can also be a great help to people involved.

Children and teens who sometimes eat a lot don't necessarily have binge eating disorder. Kids can have huge appetites, especially during growth spurts when they need more nutrients to fuel their growing bodies. So it can be difficult to determine whether a child has binge eating disorder.

A child qualifies as a binge eater when he exhibits such symptoms

  • Eating food quickly and in huge amounts

  • Eats when exposed to emotional stress.

  • Eats more and more when feels ashamed as to how much they eat.

  • Steal and hide food containers in their room to eat peacefully

Consult us if you need any guidance and counselling. We will be happy to assist. We offer health counselling for children, weightloss counselling, better sleep management etc. Do check out our website for additional information.

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