A binge (binge-eating) is a big meal, it is a food episode that implies:
- Consuming a large quantity of food in a very short period of time;
- Being unable to control the amount of food consumed and stop eating.
It is very important to define a binge from an objective point of view and have these two clear concepts: large amounts of food and loss of control.
In order to understand these concepts better, here are two examples taken from the food diaries of two patients.
A.M. 22 years old.
Diagnosis: Bulimia Nervosa for three years.
Binge beginning at 3.00 p.m. ending at 4.15 p.m.
Food eaten: 6 bars of chocolate, a packet of bread-sticks, a packet of snacks, a 250 gr. milk chocolate bar, two ice-cream cornets, a jam croissant. Afterwards half a litre of Coca Cola to help vomiting.
D.A. 29 years old.
Diagnosis : Bulimia Nervosa for seven years.
Binge beginning at 5.30 p.m. ending at 6.30 p.m.
Food eaten: 350 gr. of pizza, 300 gr. of bread with ham and cheese, a packet of popcorn, two cups of milk, with a packet of biscuits, two fruit ices. Then vomiting.
So a binge is something objective in its excess.
If someone overeats and cannot stop when they want to, if they nibble continually during the day, if they eat when highly strung, or get up to crunch something during the night, does not mean they suffers from Binge Eating Disorders (BED).
All this way of behaving means a disturbed relation to food, and patients often consider them binges, but they are not true binges.
Binges are a fundamental element of Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorders, but they can also appear in advanced phases of Anorexia Nervosa.