Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM 5

Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM 5

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder here in the United States. A hallmark of this disease is repeated episodes in which someone loses control, consuming a large amount of food over a relatively short period of time. After such an episode, it is likely someone will feel shameful, guilty, or distressed. And unlike in patients with bulimia nervosa, people who suffer from binge eating disorder do not attempt to compensate for their previous binge eating session through actions like induced vomiting or misusing enemas and laxatives.

The DSM 5

This illness is actually one of the most recent to be acknowledged in the DSM 5, marking an important step forward, as insurance companies will often decline to cover an illness unless it comes with a DSM 5 diagnosis.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder is as follows:

  • Someone must have recurrent episodes of binge eating. Such an episode is characterized by:
    • Feeling a loss of control
    • Consuming an amount of food that is larger than what most others would consume under similar circumstances (e.g. period of time)
  • These aforementioned episodes occur at least once per week for a period of at least three months (on average)
  • The binge eating is not followed by repeated use of unhealthy compensatory purging behaviors such as induced vomiting
  • These episodes are associated with at least three of the following:
    • Feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted afterwards
    • Eating alone out of shame with regards to the amount of food being eaten
    • Eating far quicker than one normally would
    • Eating until someone feels uncomfortable
    • Eating a large amount of food even if someone does not feel hungry
  • Someone is expressed marked distress over their binge eating habits

Behavioral and Emotional Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

Behaviors and emotional signifiers that could suggest someone is suffering from binge eating disorder include:

  • A fear of eating in public
  • Evidence of binge eating, such as the presence of many food containers and wrappers or the disappearance of significant amounts of food over relatively short periods of time
  • Frequent dieting
  • The creation of a lifestyle or other rituals to allow time to binge eat
  • Stealing food
  • Hoarding food in odd places
  • Expressing low self-esteem
  • Feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted after overeating
  • Expressing major concern with one’s shape and body weight
  • Having secret, recurrent binge eating episodes in which one feels out of control
  • Any new food practices or diets, such as cutting out whole food groups or picking up veganism or vegetarianism
  • Withdrawal from usual activities
  • Frequently looking in the mirror for perceived appearance flaws
  • Disrupted eating behaviors, such as not having planned mealtimes and eating throughout the day, skipping meals, sporadic fasting, repetitive dieting, or taking small portions at “regular” meals
  • The development of food rituals, such as excessive chewing or not allowing foods to touch
  • Eating alone, perhaps out of embarrassment over how much food one is eating
  • Social withdrawal

Finding Help

Even though binge eating disorder can cause serious damage to one’s body, it is a treatable illness. If you are looking for recovery groups in New York City and elsewhere in the United States, you can find resources at this link. You can also find support by contacting an eating disorder helpline. But if you are in a time of crisis, you can text “NEDA” to 741-741 at any time to be put in contact with someone trained to handle the situation.

Additionally, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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