Can You Have a “Little” Binge Eating Disorder?

I have battled with my weight my entire life and was thin until I became pregnant with my first daughter. I followed the example of others around me at the time, twenty-seven years ago and I gained 70–yes 70 pounds when I was pregnant. The good news was that I lost it all minus 20 pounds, but then I became pregnant with my son and gained 50 more pounds and lost all of that minus 20 pounds. If you are dong the math, I am 40 pounds heavier. That is not that bad and I can work on it, but then it started. Mental illness struck very hard and I began taking more psychotropic medications–anti-psychotic medications which were the absolute worst for me.

Psychotropic medications caused me to gain weight from breathing it seemed like.

Today, once again I am presently attempting to lose weight. This is day #4 on my diet of eating little to no carbs. I am proud of myself. One day at a time. I must lose weight. This is the next big step in my continued recovery and mental health journey. Improving and maintaining good physical health must be part of my journey.

My life is improving in so many ways. It is time for me to conquer my weight battle. It is my next step in my recovery of mental illness. Carbs are my nemesis–my unfriendly frenemy. I love anything and everything with carbs, especially bread. The more bread or carbs I eat the more I want, want, want. This must end.

I have overcome so much, so why can’t I defeat my weight problem–the monster of a beast it is? Well, the answer is, I can and I will. It is time–the next step in my recovery journey. On our recovery journeys, sometimes we have to break down our obstacles one at at time-little by little, step by step, piece by piece. Keep focused on small parts and goals to get to the finish line of recovery. I am on a mission to lose weight, again.

Remember there is no real finish line of recovery. When you get better and reach your best, define a new best. Become the best you you can be and do it over and over again.

At times, I believe I have a little of this “Binge Eating Disorder” if it is possible to have it a little. I like to eat and have always been an emotional eater. If I was one of those people who could or would not eat when I was depressed or upset over the years, I would be so beautifully thin. However, it is the opposite for me and food has always been my comfort in times of distress.

New (back in May 2013) in the DSM-5: Binge Eating Disorder

written by Russell Marx

It’s official!  Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is now an actual eating disorder diagnosis in the DSM-5 which was released by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013. DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is the official “rule-book” of mental health diagnosis and is important so that everybody is using a common language when talking about a specific disorder.  The previous DSM-IV was released in 1994 and binge eating was only listed in Appendix B and had to be diagnosed with the non-specific “EDNOS” (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).  In the past 20 years there have been over 1,000 research papers published that support the idea that BED is a specific diagnosis that has validity and consistency.

The key diagnostic features of BED are:

  1. Recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating
  2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  3. Marked distress regarding binge eating
  4. Absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging).

Image result for binge eating disorder

BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States. In adults it affects:

  • 3.5% of women
  • 2% of men
  • and up to 1.6% of adolescents [1].
  • In women it is most common in early adulthood but more common in men at midlife.
  • BED seems to affect blacks and whites equally.

Image result for binge eating disorder

Comorbid problems are both physical and psychiatric.  Although most people with obesity don’t have BED, up to 2/3 of people with BED are obese and can have the medical difficulties associated with this condition. Compared with normal weight or obese control groups, people with BED have higher levels of anxiety and both current and lifetime major depression.

Effective evidence-based treatments are available for BED. These include specific forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Some types of medication can be helpful in reducing binge eating. These include certain antidepressants (such as SSRIs) and certain anticonvulsants (such as topiramate, which can also reduce body weight). All treatments should be evaluated in the matrix of risks / benefits / alternatives.

For more information on the specific changes to the DSM-5, please see the recent webinar entitled, “Eating Disorders in the DSM-5: Implications of Changes in the Diagnostics Categories and Criteria.” This webinar was moderated by B. Timothy Walsh, M.D. who headed the DSM-5 Eating Disorders Work Group, joined by Evelyn Attia, M.D. and Stephen Wonderlich, Ph. D., who were on the work group and currently serve as members of the NEDA Research Advisory Council.

[1] Swanson SA, Crow SJ, Le Grange D, Swendsen J, Merikangas KR. Prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in adolescents. Results from the national comorbidity survey replication adolescent supplement. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2011;68(7):714–723.

© Copyright 2018 National Eating Disorders Association

© 2019 Susan Walz | | All Rights Reserved


13 thoughts on “Can You Have a “Little” Binge Eating Disorder?

  1. I’m there with you, a little bit of a binge eater, comfort food, boredom food, reward food. I restarted my diet this week and I haven’t actually managed a ‘good’ day yet.
    Good luck with the weight loss xx


    • Thank you for reading and commenting. I did really well for five days and am struggling all ready. I have not given up yet. I lost five pounds but that is the five pounds I lose and then gain back. It is my seesaw five I guess. Time will tell. I am not giving up yet though. Baby steps. You don’t have to have perfect days. Good luck. (I need food luck hahaha….) on your diet or liveit as it should be called. We don’t want to die we want to live. Hahaha…. Much love and hugs, Sue


      • Love that! Liveit… despite my less than good food choices I’ve managed to lose 2 lbs so I’m happy so far. Just need to keep focused on the goal!
        Have a great day x


  2. I had to diet in periods. I could stick with it for about 15 lbs down, then I’d gain back 5 coming off the diet; then I’d do that again the next year.

    It was slower than I wanted, of course, but one thing that helped my perspective was saying, “It took x years to put it on, so it’ll probably take longer than 4 weeks to get it off.” 🙂

    You can do it! Don’t lose hope!


    • Thank you for the encouraging words. I need all the help I can get. Great job on losing weight. It sounds similar to me as far I Iose a little then going off the diet. I do really well at first but it is the long haul that I can’t seem to conquer. I need to keep fighting my battle of the bulge. Thanks again for your encouraging words. Much love and hugs, Sue


      • You’re welcome, Sue! Everything’s a bit slower and takes more work as we age, but is still possible. I know a woman who was overweight her whole life; the doctor even told her it was too late to change her life around. Well… she and God made it happen and now she runs diet centers to help other women. ❤


      • That is for sure. It is much more difficult to lose weight now that I am older. Wow. That is a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing. It is very inspiring. Everything is possible with God. Thanks again Chelsea and I hope you are doing well. I appreciate your reading and for your great feedback.


  3. Hi! Don’t beat yourself up too much over your lack of control because it really is a physical craving, not just mental. Our brains need certain things! The key is to provide the right things so you don’t crave the wrong things. For instance, no rice or bread, but you can have potatoes, zucchini, moderate amounts of fruit, and lots of yummy fats like nuts, healthy oils, eggs, meat. You still have to detox from the sugar (bad carbs) but it’s easier if you are not starving. Also methylated B12 is a lifesaver for me! I’ve been in the battle all my life and I’ve learned a lot. Some of us really just don’t metabolize food normally, especially carbs. Good luck! Btw, you’ll feel less irritable and anxious eating this way, yay!


    • Thank you for your valuable information. I appreciate it. I think I will check out the methylated B12 and see what that is about. I need all the help I can get. Hopefully I can learn to eat healthier I am working on it. Slowly but surely… hopefully. Much love and hugs, Sue


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