With the internet being awashed with fad diets and what one should or should not eat, determining if your big appetite is just that or something else, could be confusing. However, experts say there is a thin line between over eating and binge-eating disorder.
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Over eating vs binge-eating
For some people, having extra helpings of a delicious meal or dessert at an event or occasionally at home is normal. But, if you are eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would, you’re most probably binge-eating, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. These eating sessions could be marked by feelings of lack of control. BED is also associated with psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety.
[It is] characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge-eating.
Although binge-eating is a severe, life-threatening disorder, it is treatable.
One other difference between the two is the associated feelings of shame, distress and helplessness that come with BED, according to lifehacker.org. If you eat too much due to having an occasional big appetite, you don’t feel distressed or guilty about it afterwards. The National Eating Disorders Association lists some of these as the signs of binge-eating disorder:
- Appearing uncomfortable eating around others
- Any new practice with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
- The fear of eating in public or with others
- Withdrawing from usual friends and activities
- Frequently dieting
To know if you are over eating or struggling with binge-eating disorder, you should take note of how you feel after eating more than necessary. You should see a mental health professional if you are doing it alone to hide your behaviour, feeling out of control when it’s happening, and feeling ashamed afterwards.