Signs & Symptoms

Binge-eating disorder, sometimes called compulsive overeating, means that a person regularly eats excessive amounts of food (binge). A binge is considered eating a larger amount of food than most people would eat under similar situations. For instance, a person who binges may eat 10,000 to 20,000 calories worth of food during a binge, while someone following a normal diet may eat 1,500 to 3,000 calories in a day.

The precise definition of a binge is debatable. A binge episode is typically considered to last about two hours, but some experts say binges can last an entire day.

Behavioral and emotional signs:

  • Eating large amounts of food
  • Eating even when full
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Feeling that eating behavior is out of control
  • Frequent dieting without weight loss
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Hoarding food
  • Hiding empty food containers
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset about eating

After a binge, a person may try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting eating may simply lead to more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle.