Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

Some of the more common signs of binge eating disorder are:

Behavioural signs

If someone is developing binge eating disorder, often changes in behaviour are noticeable before changes to physical appearance. Signs include:

  • Buying lots of food
  • Organising life around bingeing episodes
  • Hoarding food
  • Eating very rapidly
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Avoiding eating around others
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings 
  • Compromise of education and employment plans

Psychological signs

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness, and you might notice changes in the way you or someone you know feels before physical symptoms become obvious. Psychological signs include:

  • Spending a lot or most of their time thinking about food
  • A sense of being out of control around food, or a loss of control over eating
  • Feeling anxious and tense, especially over eating in front of others
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Feelings of shame and guilt after bingeing
  • Other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety

Physical signs

There are several physical consequences associated with binge eating disorder:

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Other stomach problems
  • Poor skin condition

Long term effects of binge eating disorder

Like any eating disorder, binge eating disorder can have long-term physical effects, some of which may be permanent. These include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Difficulty conceiving and infertility
  • Joint and back pain
  • Damage to the oesophagus and stomach
  • Arthritis
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Sleep apnoea

Most seriously, binge eating disorder may be fatal if not treated in time. However, many of the effects of binge eating disorder are reversible or can be prevented from worsening, and eating disorders are treatable, with full recovery possible.

Issue date: September 2017  Review date: September 2020 Version 2.0 Sources used to create this information are available by contacting Beat. We welcome your feedback on our information resources.