Extreme Hunger vs. Binge Eating Disorder?

“Am I developing Binge Eating Disorder?”

This is something many people wonder when they start their recovery from a restrictive eating disorder and begin to experience extreme hunger.

Why binge eating disorder and extreme hunger seem to have the exact same symptoms?

But actually, they DON’T have the exact same symptoms!

There is one KEY factor that is MISSING from binge eating disorder symptoms but IS present in extreme hunger. And this alone explains why you are NOT developing BED but are just experiencing extreme hunger.

What key symptom differentiates extreme hunger vs binge eating disorder

In DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for binge-eating disorder says that one requirement to diagnose someone with BED is: “The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.”

Yes, you read that right “BED is NOT associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behavior”. So if you are recovering from a restrictive eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, overexercising or dieting you cannot have BED because you HAVE restricted and compensated calories.

When you come from a restrictive past you ARE simply experiencing extreme hunger that is normal in recovery and will pass.

This is why it’s critical to understand about extreme hunger and the affect restriction, starvation, dieting, and compensation has on your body and how it affects your hunger cues.

To diagnose someone with BED they should have no restriction, dieting or compensation in present or before the binges happened!

2 thoughts on “Extreme Hunger vs. Binge Eating Disorder?”

  1. As a person who has struggled with disordered eating for almost thirty years and is working diligently with a therapist to finally be at peace with food and my body, I do have one major fear about satiating this extreme hunger. While I have spent years restricting, binging, purging, I have also spent many years eating whatever I wanted and I was almost 300 pounds. How is eating all the time going to fix my disordered eating and how will I know if I am eating to heal or eating to numb? The truth is I am terrified that if I just eat, I will once again be 300lbs.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this internal struggle.

    1. The purpose of letting go restrictions and eating freely is to heal your relationship with food and to eventually be a normal eater – to eat when hungry, stop when full, to be normal around foods again. thats the goal of recovery in terms of eating. and this approach is not just about “eating whatever you want” but also about working on the mentality – letting go of food guilt, ditching the diet mindset, working on body image etc. it all must works together. I’m glad you are working with a therapist, you could also find a recovery coach who can help you with this process of extreme hunger and healing your relationship with food or maybe your therapist is already familiar with this and can help you. wish you the best!

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