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Overeating Or Binge Eating: How To Tell The Difference

Since the pandemic, many people have noticed a significant change in their eating habits. One in four people say they are eating less healthily, and the average Brit consumes an extra 2331 calories a week in lockdown.

For some people, the stress, anxiety and boredom during the last year and beyond has caused unhealthy eating habits and patterns to come out. Some people notice that they’re eating more because of emotional and comfort eating, others may simply not notice but find themselves overeating mindlessly, such as while watching TV. Sometimes, overeating is actually a serious problem of binge eating.

So, when does overindulging become overeating? And how can you tell the difference between overeating and binge eating?

What Is Binge Eating?

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder and usually occurs when a large amount of food is consumed in a short space of time or until you feel uncomfortably full. A binge eating episode is usually done alone and can often be planned.

Binge eating affects both men and women. Typically, 40% of those with binge eating disorder are male. Furthermore, 30% of those seeking weight loss treatments can show signs of binge eating disorder. This is especially true with very restrictive diets or weight loss programs.

Binge eating often comes with many negative emotions such as shame, low mood and low self-worth.

What Is Overeating?

Usually, overeating is not regarded as an eating disorder. Overeating can be helping yourself to extra portions or eating large amounts when you’re not particularly hungry. Often overeating is mindless, such as when you’re doing something else like watching TV, online shopping or sitting at your desk. This is different from binge eating because a binge eating episode can feel like you’ve zoned out. While it may seem mindless, overeating is still a conscious choice about what to eat, how much, and when.

How Can You Tell The Difference Between Binge Eating And Overeating?

What’s Your Mood Like?

Overeating can be during a time of celebration, such as having an extra portion during a dinner party or several slices of cake during a birthday. Overeating can also occur with comfort eating, for example, ordering a large takeaway after a rough day. In many instances, there is no real reason for overeating; it could simply be the case that food is just there!

On the other hand, binge eating will often come with a low mood and low self-worth. Often people who binge eat will experience poor mental health, such as anxiety, depression and mental anguish.

Both overeaters and those who binge eat may experience a level of guilt. However, the guilt is far more prevalent and distressing for those with binge eating disorder.

Are You Present?

Another distinguishing factor between binge eating disorder and overeating is how present you feel during eating. With overeating, you are conscious of the decisions you make around eating. For example, you would be aware of helping yourself to an extra serving or choosing what to eat next in a movie marathon.

In a binge eating episode, individuals will describe feeling in a trance or completely zoned out of what they are doing. You do not consciously decide what to eat. Furthermore, you may feel like you physically cannot stop eating.

Do You Feel Full?

As there is consciousness with overeating, most people, when they overeat, will stop before they become uncomfortably full. If you eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable, there is a trigger that makes you stop.

For binge eating, it is possible to go beyond the feeling of fullness. It is common to feel uncomfortably full to the point that it is very painful during a binge eating episode.

How Fast Are You Eating?

Another key difference between overeating and binge eating is how fast you consume food. Overeating is usually a leisurely activity. It can be grazing all evening, or perhaps eating more during a mealtime.

On the other hand, binge eating is a rapid response with a sense of urgency. You will typically consume food much quicker than normal during a binge eating episode.

How Often Does It Occur?

With a binge eating disorder, the consumption of large amounts of food will typically happen at least once a week. Those who binge eat will often try to plan the event to make sure they are eating alone or in secret.

Overeating can be frequent or one-off occasions but isn’t planned in the same way. Most overeaters will not need to be alone for it to take place. However, some people may find that they do overeat when alone, out of boredom or indulgence.

Seeking Help For Overeating And Binge Eating

While binge eating and overeating are two separate issues, there is help for both, but the approach is different. If you’re looking for support with binge eating or overeating, hypnotherapy can be transformative. Using a blended therapy method, I will create a bespoke plan to get to the cause of your eating behaviours and then work to rewire the brain with healthier thought patterns and responses.

To find out more about how hypnotherapy can work for you, please get in touch to book your free consultation. Email info@hypnosis-in-london.com to arrange a convenient time for you.

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