top of page

What Binge Eating does to your body | Balance

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

In our practice we're often asked "what does binge eating actually do to my body" and thought it'd be a useful topic to share some insights on.

At it's core, binge eating is a serious mental health disorder which, acutely as well as over an extended period of time, can have some pretty significant physical health consequences. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most common ones.

What is binge eating?

Binging can be defined as eating unusually large amounts of food within a relatively short period of time while feeling that one lacks self-control in regards to their behavior around food.

Binging is often secretive and done alone. Binge eaters often feel guilt and shame after binges, even if they cannot control these episodes. Binge eating disorder (BED) is further defined by the frequency of these episodes which, to meet clinical diagnosis, a person would need to have episodes of binge eating at least once a week for three months.

To quickly recap; binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Eating much more quickly than normal

  • Eating until uncomfortably full

  • Eating large amounts of food even when not physically hungry

  • Eating alone because of embarrassment about how much one is eating

  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward

How binge eating effects our body weight

Binge eating can cause dramatic and erratic weight changes. In some cases, people will rapidly gain weight as a result of binge eating. Short term, this is likely due to additional food in your gut, changes in body water and changes in stored carbohydrate (in muscle and the liver). Long term, this may increases in body fat mass (thanks to the consistent intake of excess calories).

In other cases, people may lose weight rapidly after binge eating due to the fact that they are not able to absorb all of the nutrients from the food they ate. It may also load to involuntary physical sickness (which can lead to weight change) and, in some cases, individuals may begin to use physical sickness (described as purging and part of the bulimia nervosa diagnosis) to avoid weight gain.

People with bulimia may secretly binge and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. Bulimia itself has a range of it's own short and long term health consequences.

Either way, these extreme fluctuations in weight can be extremely dangerous and can lead to a number of health problems down the road.

How binge eating effects hunger

Binge eating disrupts the natural balance of hormones in your body that are res