Not all eating disorders present themselves in a way that’s physically visible. While weight loss from a disorder like anorexia or bulimia is usually apparent, there are others that are just as severe (but not as visible), including binge eating disorder (BED).
BED is a disorder in which sufferers consistently eat large quantities of food in one sitting, and who often feel out of control while doing so. People with BED regularly feel shameful after a binge and don’t undertake behaviors to get rid of the food they ate (i.e. purging, over-exercising, etc.).
While BED is a relatively newly-recognized disorder, it’s one that experts have learned to diagnose and treat. If you suspect someone you love might be suffering from it, keep your eyes out for the following symptoms.
1. Consistently Dieting Without Weight Loss
BED sufferers often diet without losing weight. This happens because they attempt to counteract what they consume during binges, but cannot stop the binges from happening.
2. Lack of Control Around Food
After beginning a meal, BED sufferers often find it hard to stop eating and will continue to eat even after they feel uncomfortably full.
3. Eating in Secret
Because BED patients feel shameful around food, they often choose to eat meals alone or in secret.
4. Low Self Esteem
BED sufferers usually display signs of low self-esteem such as talking negatively about themselves and feeling down about their self-image.
5. Hoarding Food
People with BED tend to hoard food so that they have access to it for a binge later.
6. Hiding Food Containers
BED sufferers often hide empty food containers. This is to ensure no one knows how much they consumed during a binge, and because they feel shameful or embarrassed.
7. No Attempts to Purge after Binges
A sign that someone is suffering from BED and not bulimia is that they don’t purge what they’ve consumed. BED sufferers can become overwhelmed by the emotions caused by their binge, but don’t take action to counteract the consumption.
Many people with BED also suffer from obesity, which can cause many other health problems. Not all obese people have BED, but it’s common for the two to go hand-in-hand.
9. Unusual Meal Times
Because BED sufferers tend to binge when alone, they develop strange eating habits. They throw their internal clocks off by consuming significant amounts at all hours of the day, so often eat meals at times that other people consider abnormal.
10. Eating Rapidly
BED sufferers eat quickly — even if they’re eating a healthy meal (not a binge). This is due to the lack of self-control they have grown accustomed to around food.