Why can’t you stop eating?

We’ll all have our favorite foods that we enjoy. While it’s alright to partake in the occasional overindulgence, if you’re doing this on a regular basis, it can signify a problem. If you’re consuming large quantities of food and feel like you can’t stop eating, you might have binge eating disorder. What causes it? What can you do to stop eating so much? Are there ways to prevent it?

Binge Eating DisorderDefinition

Binge eating disorder is when you take in large amounts of food regularly and feel like you’re unable to stop. It leads to feeling that it’s out of control because the compulsion to eat is just too strong despite feeling embarrassed and vowing to stop. It’s more common in women and often starts in the late teens to early 20s. The cause is unknown, but thought to be related to genetics, long-term dieting and psychological issues. If your parents or siblings have, or had, an eating disorder, you’re more likely to develop one. If you try dieting where you restrict the number of calories you take in, it can lead to binge eating. Certain psychological issues, like depression or feeling negatively about yourself, can result in binge eating. Other triggers are stress, anxiety, substance abuse, poor body self-image and the availability of your preferred foods to binge on.

The majority of people who binge eat are overweight, but it is possible to be a normal weight. Those with binge eating disorder differ from those with bulimia because they don’t compensate for the extra calories they consume by vomiting, using laxatives or exercising excessively. The severity of the disorder is dependent on the frequency of episodes during a week. Symptoms include eating large amounts of food within a specific amount of time, feeling that your eating behavior is out of control, eating rapidly during episodes, consuming food even when you’re not hungry, not stopping food consumption until you’re uncomfortably full, eating alone, hiding your eating from others, feeling depressed/disgusted/ashamed/guilty/upset about your eating and frequent dieting that doesn’t result in weight loss. Complications of binge eating disorder can include poor quality of life, social isolation, problems functioning in everyday situations, obesity and medical conditions that arise from obesity (ex. heart disease and diabetes).

TreatmentFast Facts - Binge Eating Disorder

The best treatment course for binge eating disorder is to reduce the number of binges and develop healthy eating habits. Since the disorder is often interrelated with other mental health issues, it’s critical that these are addressed as well. The most effective form of treatment is psychotherapy. There are several types, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy and dialectical behavior therapy. CBT is designed to help you learn how to cope with issues that can trigger a binge episode, which will help you to regulate your eating patterns. Interpersonal therapy focuses on your relationships with others and how to improve your communication skills. This can be essential if your episodes are triggered by problematic relationships. Dialectical behavior therapy teaches you skills to better tolerate stress, regulate emotions and improve relationships.

Another component of treatment are medications. Currently, there is only one medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat binge eating disorder. This drug, lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, is also used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but has been found to help those with binge eating disorder to curb their intake significantly, which results in weight loss. Other medications that are used include topiramate (an anticonvulsant) and antidepressants. While these help to control the number of episodes, neither help with weight loss. Since many individuals with the disorder have a history of failed dieting attempts in efforts to lose weight, it’s not recommended that they participate in regular weight-loss programs because this can actually trigger episodes to occur. This is why your doctor should manage any weight-loss program.

In order to be successful at overcoming binge eating disorder, there are several things that you should do. It’s essential that you don’t miss any therapy sessions and avoid dieting (unless under the supervision of your doctor). Be sure to eat breakfast every day because it makes you less likely to consume higher calorie meals later in the day. Remove any tempting foods from your home and limit your exposure to those foods in general. Get the right nutrients by ingesting foods that are high in essential vitamins and minerals. Don’t isolate yourself from family and friends. Remain active by getting plenty of physical activity (just check with your doctor prior to starting any new routine). Find ways to help yourself relax, like yoga or meditation.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to prevent binge eating disorder. So, it’s vital to maintain and encourage healthy body image for yourself and others. This is important regardless of a person’s body shape or size. If you’re concerned about your health or a loved one’s health, it’s key to seek or assist them in getting professional help.

Binge eating disorder is a serious medical condition. However, with the right treatment, you can overcome it. If you have any question or concerns about binge eating disorder, please speak with your doctor. If you would like more information, please visit the National Eating Disorder Association’s binge eating disorder page at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed