How to Conquer Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder

May 31, 2023

Addiction | Barbara Decker

Key Takeaways

  • Food addiction involves the craving for specific foods and eating uncontrollably, while binge eating disorder (BED) refers to eating large amounts in a short time and feeling out of control.
  • Both conditions can have negative consequences, but they require different approaches for treatment and support.
  • If you’re concerned about a loved one, encourage them to consult a healthcare professional and offer emotional support during their recovery journey.

Have you noticed concerning changes in the food habits of someone you love? Do you reckon they are struggling with addiction? I discuss food addiction and binge eating disorders in this blog post to give you a clearer picture.

As someone who has seen the devastating effects of addiction firsthand, I know how important it is to understand the differences between the two. Thus, I’ll break down each one and provide you with some tips on how to help someone who is struggling.

What is Food Addiction?

Discover the truth about food addiction and its effects on health. Learn how to overcome your cravings and achieve a healthy relationship with food. Get expert advice and support from top nutritionists and psychologists. Find out more about what is food addiction and take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Simply put, it’s a condition where people become addicted to certain foods, often high in sugar, salt, or fat. The brain responds to these by releasing dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. In other words, the brain tells the body that eating these types of food is pleasurable and rewarding, which can lead to overeating and or becoming dependent on the food type.


Food addicts experience cravings for specific edibles, loss of control over intake, and continued consumption despite negative consequences. In many ways, it’s similar to other types of addiction, like drugs or alcohol. The difference, of course, is that the substance of addiction is food.

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There are several causes, including genetic factors, environmental influences, and emotional triggers. Some people may be more predisposed to addiction due to inheritance, while others may be more susceptible due to external factors like stress or social pressure. Emotional triggers, such as anxiety or depression, can also play a role in this addiction.


Like other type of addiction, there are several options available. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, is often used to help people identify and change negative thought patterns and habits. Medical health providers, through the appropriate medications, are also helpful in some cases, especially when used in conjunction with therapy. Support groups and counseling can also be beneficial, as they provide a safe and supportive environment for people to share their experiences and learn from others.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Learn about binge eating disorder and its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. Find support and resources to help manage this eating disorder. Gain a better understanding of this mental health condition with our informative guide.

This is another type of food-related disorder that involves consuming large quantities in a short period of time. Unlike food addiction, this is not necessarily linked to any specific type. Instead, it’s characterized by compulsive overeating and overwhelming shame or guilt after eating.


The signs of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) go beyond overeating and can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Some of the most common ones of BED include:

  • Eating large amounts in a short period
  • Feeling out of control during binge episodes
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating alone because of embarrassment
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed after binge eating
  • Rapidly eating
  • Hoarding food
  • Hiding empty food containers


BED is a complex disorder, and there is no single cause. A combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors can contribute to its development. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Genetic factors: Research suggests that inheritance can play a role in the development of BED.
  • Emotional factors: People with BED may use eatables as a way to cope with negative emotions or stress.
  • Sociocultural influences: Societal pressure to be thin, diet culture, and a focus on weight loss can contribute to the development of BED.


There are several interventions for BED available. Like food addiction, CBT can be helpful in identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, as can medications. Support groups and counseling can also be beneficial, as they provide a safe and supportive environment for people to share their experiences and learn from others.

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If you know someone who is struggling, it’s important to be supportive and understanding. Encourage them to seek help and provide them with the resources they need to get better. Remember, recovery is possible, and with the right support and guidance, anyone can overcome addiction.

Comparing Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder

Learn about the key differences between food addiction and binge eating disorder with our informative guide. Discover the causes, symptoms, and treatments for both conditions and find the support you need to overcome them. Explore our comparison chart and gain valuable insights into these common eating disorders today.

These are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same, and understanding the similarities and differences between them is important for proper analysis and treatment. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between these two conditions.

Comparison Food Addiction Binge Eating Disorder
Focus Specific foods Large quantities of food
Causes and triggers Genetic, environmental, and emotional factors Genetic, emotional, and sociocultural factors
Diagnostic criteria Not recognized in DSM-5 Recognized in DSM-5
Loss of control over eating ✔️ ✔️
Emotional and psychological factors ✔️ ✔️
Treatment options Similar but may require different approaches Similar but may require different approaches


  • Focus on Specific vs. Large Quantities of Food: People with food addiction are often drawn to specific edibles, such as sugar, carbohydrates, or other chemical composition, while individuals with BED may eat large quantities of any food.
  • Causes and Triggers: Food addiction is often linked to the brain’s reward system, where certain edibles can influence the release of dopamine, a feel-good hormone. BED results from a combination of factors.
  • Diagnostic Criteria: Food addiction is not yet an official treatment in the DSM-5, while BED is. To be diagnosed with this disorder, an individual must have recurrent episodes of binge eating, experience loss of control during these episodes, and feel distressed by their eating habits.
  • Loss of Control over Eating: Both conditions involve a loss of control over eating. Individuals struggling with food addiction may feel unable to stop eating certain edibles, regardless of consequences like obesity. Similarly, they are unable to control the amount they eat, even if they are not hungry.
  • Emotional and Psychological Factors: Individuals with either condition may use eatables as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or other difficult emotions. These emotional stimuli can drive both conditions, leading to a cycle of overeating.

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While both share some similarities, they are different conditions. Understanding these differences is necessary for proper treatment. If you know someone who is struggling with any of these, seek professional help or clinical treatment. Coupled with the right support and guidance, it is possible to reclaim a healthy relationship with food.

How to Determine the Appropriate Diagnosis

Learn how to determine the appropriate diagnosis for food addiction with our comprehensive guide. Explore the signs and symptoms of food addiction and discover effective treatment options to overcome this debilitating disorder. Start your journey towards a healthier and happier life today!

It can be challenging to determine the appropriate diagnosis between the two on your own. Seeking professional help is necessary to ensure that your close one receives the right treatment.

Importance of seeking professional help

A qualified healthcare professional can assess the severity of the addiction, identify any underlying mental health issues, and determine the appropriate treatment plan. Do not self-diagnose or rely on internet research, as you can easily misdiagnosis what your loved one truly needs.

Assessing symptoms and behaviors

But before reaching out for professional support, it’s important to look for patterns that may indicate addiction. Some common signs of addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance to drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Neglecting responsibilities or obligations
  • Changes in mood or habits
  • Hiding drug or alcohol use

It’s also important to keep in mind that addiction affects individuals differently. The above ones may vary depending on the substance, the duration of use, and the individual’s overall health.

Considering co-occurring disorders

Addiction often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. It’s important to assess for co-occurring disorders as they can impact the severity of addiction and the appropriate treatment plan. A healthcare professional can evaluate your dear one’s mental health and recommend additional treatment if necessary.

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Seeking professional help

If you suspect that your loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s important to seek professional help. Encourage them to speak with a healthcare professional about their concerns. Treatment options may include inpatient or outpatient programs, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment.

Remember, addiction is treatable, recovery is a journey, and it’s important to have the right support and guidance. With the right treatment plan, they can find their path to a healthy and fulfilling life.

Empowering Loved Ones: Treating Food Addiction & Binge Eating Disorder

Empowering your loved ones to overcome food addiction and binge eating disorder is crucial for their wellbeing. Learn how to support them on their journey towards recovery and a healthier lifestyle. Take the first step today.

If you’re worried about a loved one’s relationship with food, distinguishing between the two is important to provide the right support. Food addiction, although not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-5, involves compulsive eating of specific eatables, leading to negative consequences. On the other hand, BED is a recognized diagnosis and is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large amounts in a short period while feeling a loss of control.

Understanding these differences is vital for effective treatment and support. Encourage them to consult a health professional for formal and appropriate treatment options. As a caring family member or friend, you can offer emotional support, accompany them to appointments, and help with lifestyle changes that foster recovery. By raising awareness about these disorders and their complexities, you can empower them to navigate the path to recovery successfully.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder

Is binging a form of addiction?

Binging can be considered a form of addiction when it becomes a compulsive and repetitive practice. However, binging itself does not always indicate an addiction, as it can occur in isolation or as a warning sign of other eating imbalances.

What is a binge addict?

A binge addict is a person who experiences recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by consuming large amounts in a short period and feeling a loss of control during these episodes. This habit is typically associated with BED, and the individual may experience guilt, shame, or distress after binging.

Is a food disorder an addiction?

A food disorder can be considered an addiction if it involves compulsive habits and cravings. However, not all eating imbalances are addictions, as they may have different signs, causes, and treatments.

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