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Symptoms - Binge eating disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder (BED) involves regularly eating large portions of food all at once until you feel uncomfortably full. This is often followed by feelings of upset or guilt.

Binges can be impulsive but are also often planned in advance and the person may buy 'special' binge foods.


The main symptom of binge eating disorder is eating very large amounts of food in a short time. This is often done in an out-of-control way.

Symptoms may also include:

  • eating very fast during a binge
  • eating until you feel uncomfortably full
  • eating when you're not hungry
  • eating alone or in secret
  • feeling depressed, guilty, ashamed or disgusted after binge eating

People who eat in this way on a regular basis may have binge eating disorder.

Warning signs

Signs that someone has an eating disorder can include:

  • eating a lot of food, very fast
  • trying to hide how much they are eating
  • storing up supplies of food
  • exercising too much
  • frequent changes in weight

Getting help

If you think you may have an eating disorder, talk to your GP. You should do this even if you are not sure if you might have a disorder.

If you have an eating disorder, your GP should refer you to a specialist who can help you recover.

It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and to ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring someone you trust with you to your appointment.

If you're concerned that a family member or friend may have binge eating disorder, let them know you're worried about them. Encourage them to see their GP. You could offer to go along with them.


We do not know exactly what causes binge eating disorder and other eating disorders.

You may be more likely to get an eating disorder if you:

  • have a family history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol or drug addiction
  • have been bullied
  • are criticised for your eating habits, body shape or weight
  • are overly concerned with being slim
  • have anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality or are a perfectionist
  • have been sexually abused

For information and support about binge eating disorders visit

Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

Page last reviewed: 1 September 2022
Next review due: 1 September 2025