Binge Eating Vs Food Addiction

Binge Eating Disorder vs food addiction what are the main differences?

Binge Eating vs food addiction? Which is it? And why does it matter?

With so many people suffering from an eating disorder of some kind it can be really difficult to know what it is you’re suffering with. Does my thing have a name?

It can be helpful to know what your eating issue is called but most importantly to know is what the symptoms are that you’re suffering from. Knowing these will help determine the right help for you. So here is a binge eating disorder vs food addiction overview and a description of some differences and similarities.

Binge Eating disorder

Binge eating is classified as an eating disorder and it’s listed in the diagnostical statistical manual of mental health disorders. (DSM5)

The key diagnostic features of BED are:

  • Recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating
  • Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
  • Eating:
    • Much more rapidly than normal
    • Until feeling uncomfortably full
    • 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
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating
  • Absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging).

Food addiction

Food addiction is not recognised as a disorder in the DSM 5, however it does not mean that people cannot experience addiction to food. When you have a substance disorder, this is what you may experience.

Symptoms of substance use disorder are grouped into four categories:

  • Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use
  • Social problems: substance use causes failure to complete major tasks at work, school or home; social, work or leisure activities are given up or cut back because of substance use
  • Risky use: substance is used in risky settings; continued use despite known problems
  • Drug effects: tolerance (need for larger amounts to get the same effect); withdrawal symptoms (different for each substance)

You may have identified with some of these symptoms but not all of these symptoms which makes it a really difficult one to diagnose and to understand that it’s just not that black and white.

Here are some of the main differences though between the two to help you distinguish what you might be having an issue with.

Differences between Binge eating vs food addiction

1. BED is associated with periods of bingeing then very often a period of restriction whereas in food addiction the overeating is constant.

2. Bingeing often happens in a short period of time as well but food addiction there is no time limit and often there are cravings for particular food

3. Binge eating is not often associated with hunger, it is usually a trigger like an emotion that sets off a binge. Food addiction may start as hunger and you find you cannot stop eating.

4. With Binge Eating, a binge comes to usually supress an emotion because it’s causing us pain whereas with food addiction we usually get a huge amount of pleasure from the food so it’s to bring on feelings

5. A lot of the time binge eating takes place in secret so that other people will not be there to see and judge your binges whereas with food addiction it can be just little amounts of food constantly so no one is going to judge you eating a lot

6. in food addiction there are the typical features of addiction: tolerance, feelings of withdrawal, devoting time to activities associated with eating and neglecting or abandoning other activities for food; whereas with BED these are not always present.

7. Food addiction is more about an addiction to a substance, in this case food. It could also be about a certain type of food, for instance sugar. Whereas binge eating is more about the pattern all you’re eating with food rather than what it is that you are eating

8. Food addiction therapy looks at your relationship with the substance where is binge eating therapy looks at your relationship with the pattern of behaviour.

Similarities between Binge eating vs Food Addiction include:

1. There feel like a loss of control over a particular substance.

2. The behaviour is still persistent despite negative life long term effects, like deterioration in health.

3. A feeling of not being able to control, correct or minimise the behaviour.

4. If not addressed the behaviours get worse overtime

5. Both behaviours will have other associated trauma with it as in there will be an underlying cause to both behaviours.

If you feel you are suffering with disordered eating of any kind, there is help out there and it is totally possible to stop.

Related Reading

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms. The red flags to look out for.

Had a Binge Eating Session? How to get back on track psychologically.

3 Steps to break your Food Addiction

About Vanessa McLennan

Vanessa is an emotional eating expert with a passion for natural health, superfoods and psychology. She helps women from all over the world to successfully lose weight by escaping the diet cycle and end their emotional eating patterns. She holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy as well as qualifications in EMDR, EFT, Emotional Eating, IBS therapist. Check out her free guide to help you break free of the diet cycle