Binge Eating in Men

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive overeating or binge eating. In BED, the purging to prevent weight gain that is characteristic of bulimia nervosa is absent, however the binge itself is similar in both disorders: lack of control, eating in a discrete period of time much more food than most people would eat in a similar period of time, negative feelings about their eating behavior, and repeated bingeing at least twice a week for six months. Both males and females suffer from BED, and it is more prevalent than anorexia nervosa or bulimia, with studies reporting a wide-range of incidence rates (from 2-3% of the adult population to as high as 20-40%).

Behavioral Characteristics:

  • ­Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • ­Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • ­A sense of lack of control over eating during binge episodes
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Hoarding food
  • ­Hiding food and eating in secret; e.g., eating alone or in the car, hiding wrappers
  • ­Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • ­Eating throughout the day with no planned mealtimes

Emotional and Mental Characteristics:

  • ­Feelings of disgust, guilt, or depression during and after overeating
  • Binge eating often triggered by uncomfortable feelings such as anger, anxiety, or shame
  • ­Binge eating used as a means of relieving tension, or to “numb” feelings
  • ­Rigid, inflexible “all or nothing” thinking
  • ­Strong need to be in control
  • ­Difficulty expressing feelings and needs
  • ­Perfectionistic
  • ­Works hard to please others
  • ­Avoids conflict, tries to “keep the peace”
  • ­Disgust about body size, often teased about their body while growing up
  • ­Feelings of worthlessness
  • ­Social isolation
  • ­Depression
  • ­Moodiness and irritability

Physical Characteristics:

  • ­Heart and blood pressure problems
  • ­Joint problems
  • ­Abnormal blood-sugar levels
  • ­Fatigue
  • ­Difficulty walking or engaging in physical activities

Compiled by Tom Shiltz, MS, CADC III of Rogers Memorial Hospital, and updated by Leigh Cohn of Gürze Books in 2006. (Source: DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Permission granted for reprint by NEDA (