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Binge Eating and Overeating, What’s the Difference?

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Text image: Binge eating and overeating, what's the difference?

It’s Coach Kasey here to chat with you about binge eating versus overeating! 

The term “binge” has been on my mind a lot.⁣

Maybe it’s my training as a psychologist, but this word  is used far too frequently in the nutrition and fitness world to define “overeating.”⁣

And although I’m not trained to help people work through eating disorders, I am trained in understanding these conditions (I’m a psychologist!), and I got input from two coaches on my team who have some education on the topic:  Coach Brooke and Coach Megan.

Coach Brooke is a registered dietitian. Coach Megan is currently working towards becoming a dietitian specializing in eating disorders and disordered eating, so they’re familiar with binge eating and overeating.

I want to discuss binge eating versus overeating because “binge” is tossed around very casually these days. 

I’ve previously shared a blog post titled “End the Binge and Restrict Cycle,” not because I mixed up the terms, but because I know that many people struggling with overeating refer to it as binge eating, and I want to help them find the correct information and appropriate solutions. 

It’s important to understand that although there are some similarities, binge eating is very different from bouts of overeating.

 

What is Overeating?

Overeating is infrequent eating to the point of being “too full.” It can come as a result of skipping meals, stress, or because the food tastes too dang good. 

Discomfort and regret can follow overeating, but you remain aware and in control during an episode of overeating. 

Overeating is often associated with a lack of mindfulness and/or emotional eating, which can come as a result of positive or negative emotions. Many people struggle with emotional eating to cope with issues like stress or sadness. 

Other times when overeating is common are during celebrations (such as a birthday or wedding), holidays, and events. Additionally, overeating can happen regardless of whether you are alone or with a group of people. 

While overeating infrequently occurs on an individual basis, it is common among people overall. 

 

What is Binge Eating?

 

Although there are overlapping behaviors between bingeing and overeating, they’re very different conditions.⁣

Be very wary of any coach who claims to have the ability to solve “binge eating issues.”⁣

And if you’re a coach, know that you are NOT qualified to help someone work through binge eating and binge eating disorder (and if we could stop using the word “binge,” that’d be great)⁣.

Binge eating is overeating with a loss of control. When a person binge eats, they can’t stop eating even once they become uncomfortably full. 

Often people who binge eat do so in an attempt to relieve negative emotions. 

Binge eating is often associated with consuming large amounts of food very rapidly, in a short period, regardless of whether the person is hungry. 

Often, an individual who is binge eating does so alone and feels embarrassed about their eating behavior and will hide food so others do not see or know how much they ate. 

Additionally, in many cases, an individual who binge eats has compensatory behaviors that follow a binge. 

An important thing to note is that binge eating can just be binge eating without becoming a binge eating disorder.

According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), binge eating disorder is a mental illness made up of compulsive behaviors which needs to be treated as an addiction with the help of a professional. It involves recurrent binge eating that occurs at least once a week for three or more months. 

 

⁣These Words Matter

 

“Binge eating” versus “overeating” is more than semantics. There’s a real difference between these words. 

Although it can vary from person to person, overeating typically doesn’t necessitate professional intervention, whereas binge eating often does, and binge eating disorder absolutely does.

To clarify, I’m not a clinical psychologist. I’m a research psychologist.  

And even if I were a clinical psychologist, I wouldn’t be diagnosing you via blog post or social media.⁣

Please do not attempt to self-diagnose; if this post rings true for you, please seek guidance from a trained professional who can provide proper assessment and treatment.⁣

 

 Get Help Dealing with Binge Eating 

 

If you’re struggling with binge eating, please reach out for help. 

The National Eating Disorders Association can help you get the support, treatment, and resources you need. 

While we at KJO Coaching are not qualified to assist in eating disorder recovery, we have connections to professionals who are qualified to remotely work with you and guide you to recovery. 

Connect with us, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. 

And if you’re not dealing with binge eating but want help with overeating, you can reach out to us at KJO Coaching. Our team is highly trained and qualified to help you stop overeating and improve your relationship with food. 

You can learn more about working with us here. 

 

Click here to see my original Instagram post.

 

Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching