Many of us have had the experience of over-eating to the point of abdominal pain. Just think about your last Thanksgiving feast: how many people pushed away from the table, groaning with discomfort, loosening their belts, unsnapping the waistband of their jeans? Occasional over-eating is not a clinical diagnosis, but more usually a sign of distracted eating, intense enjoyment of a particular meal, or a result of indulging in a special treat. Binge-Eating Disorder, however, is a serious eating disorder that can have life-threatening consequences.

Specific behavioral and emotional characteristics are present for clients with Binge-Eating Disorder(BED), including:
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by eating much more food in a specific amount of time than most people would, and feeling a lack of control over the eating episode.
2. Binge eating episodes include three or more of the following components:
      A. Much more rapid eating than normal
      B. Eating until uncomfortably full
      C. Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
      D. Eating alone out of embarrassment about the amount one is eating
      E. Feeling disgusted with oneself,  depressed or very guilty afterward
3. The person feels marked distress about his/her binge eating.
4. Binge eating occurs at least once a week for three months.
5. The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of compensatory behavior (i.e., over-exercising, abuse of laxatives) like in bulimia nervosa, and doesn’t occur only during the course of a person suffering with bulimia or anorexia nervosa.


Various treatment options exist for BED. Inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and outpatient therapy modalities provide the appropriate level of care and oversight for clients’ differing needs. Besides counseling, the treatment team also includes a nutritionist, medical doctor and psychiatrist to help manage the client’s physical health. Obtaining a comprehensive evaluation from a certified physician or therapist specializing in eating disorders is essential to ensure the correct level of care is initiated, and to screen for other co-morbid diagnoses, including substance abuse, personality disorders, depression and anxiety. Like all eating disorders, recovery from BED can be a lifelong process. But early intervention and a commitment to the therapy process can provide BED sufferers with the skills and resilience to triumph over this complicated disease.