Binge-Eating: When Overeating Becomes a Bigger Problem

How do you know if you’re simply eating too much or whether you have an actual eating disorder called binge-eating disorder? Well, how do you eat?

If your overeating generally occurs when you eat out, encounter a buffet, or are served your all-time favorite food, you probably have nothing to worry about. But if you find you have episodes in which you eat faster than normal, eat until you’re uncomfortably full, eat large amounts of food when you’re not even hungry, eat alone because you’re embarrassed by how much you’re eating, feel disgusted with yourself, depressed or very guilty after overeating, then you might have a problem.

An estimated 2-5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a six-month period, surveys find. Key symptoms are recurrent episodes of binge eating characterized by eating an excessive amount of food within a short period of time and by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode. To be diagnosed with the disorder, however, you must have had these symptoms at least two days a week for six months.

If you think you might have binge-eating disorder — or if you make yourself vomit after bingeing, a condition called bulimia — see your doctor immediately. Therapy and medications can help you bring it under control.

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