What Is The Difference Between Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder?

selective focus photography of burgers on plate on table

Since my post about addiction a couple of weeks ago, I started to think a lot about crisps and my rich tea biscuits. I thought for days that maybe… maybe I am as susceptible as any other people in this planet.

Food might not sound as deadly as nicotine, or alcohol — unless of course, you are allergic to it — but, we have established that you can basically get addicted to anything that makes your brain released that happy chemical, right?

So, what if I do have food addiction?

After a bit of digging, I found out that I am not just making it up. Food addiction is a thing. Not only that, apparently there’s another thing which usually talked about while discussing about food addiction: Binge Eating Disorder.

So what are they and what’s the difference?

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FOOD ADDICTION

Like any addiction, food addiction involves the production of dopamine, and how it affects our ‘wants’. It is normally tied to a specific food type — usually ones which are palatable and high in either fat, salt, or sugar.

Like rich tea biscuits. For example.

This also means that people with food addiction will have that ‘crave‘ when they are not consuming these food. That is why food addicts would require some specific type of food for a fix.

BINGE EATING DISORDER

According to NHS, Binge Eating Disorder falls in the category of eating disorder — along with bulimia and anorexia. However, some psychologists might not agree with this classification one hundred percent, as the symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder is closer to compulsive disorder — as in eating compulsively.

Classification aside, Binge Eating Disorder is less about the food, but more about the mental state of the person with the disorder.

What happen with people suffering from BED, is that they would eat too fast, too much, and sometimes ignoring the full signal from their body. This would later on followed with guilt and shame because the sufferer would feel as if it is their fault for not having a self control over food.

close up photo of food on wooden table
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Both food addiction and binge eating disorder can lead to either weight gain or difficulty to lose weight. Albeit for different reasons.

People with Binge Eating Disorder might struggle with weight loss because they just eat compulsively. The amount of food they are eating in one sitting might make up for a three day calorie budget, and they can’t even stop. While people with food addiction might not eat that much at one time, but because of the type of food which cause addiction are usually high in fat, sugar, or salt content… the food addict can easily go over budget from little nibble every now and then for their craving fix.

I think the main difference is how the brain perceives the food which are being consumed. With food addicts, they want the fix, or the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when a certain food is consumed. While with binge eater, the brain cannot process satisfaction and the compulsion overrides the brain function to feel enough.

Now back to my rich tea… I think I am just overreacting. Food addiction and Binge Eating Disorder are very real, and people are really struggling with these. My rich tea problem is nothing close to it, and calling it rich tea addiction seems to take this serious problem too lightly…

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IF you think you have a problem with food addiction, or binge eating disorder, and you think that is the reason why you are struggling to lose weight… my advise is for you to see your GP. At least in the UK, your GP will take this seriously and will be able to refer you to the right direction.

I hope this is helpful,

Stay healthy

Love,

Mel x

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2 Replies to “What Is The Difference Between Food Addiction and Binge Eating Disorder?”

  1. Hi there,
    This is a topic I’ve been thinking about myself recently. I never really thought of myself as having any ‘addiction’ when it came to food, but I certainly met some of the criteria for it. I wouldn’t eat three meals a day (not because I was trying to restrict for weight loss, but because I just didn’t get hungry upon waking and could go all day without really thinking about food) and then would consume a HUGE meal later in the day…to the point where I could hardly breathe afterwards. I sort of became used to the feeling of being stuffed. That was my ‘normal’ and it’s something I’ve had to stop and think about as I’ve switched over to a low-carb WOE. The only thing I truly found myself “missing” was that feeling of being disgustingly full and that’s something I’ve had to work on.

    But having cut out sugar and gotten into ketosis, one thing I will agree that I was definitely addicted to, is sugar. The first 72 hours of going low-carb were insane. That was real withdrawal. My every waking thought was about sugary food and my brain kept doing everything it could think of to get me to cave. I made it through okay and after that felt incredibly liberated by the lack of constant craving. I now rarely feel “hungry” but when I am, it’s not the same as that desire for sugar that used to have a hold on me.

    So I’ve had to just accept the fact that I am an “addict” in some sense of the word. I’m a “carb addict” and that’s something I’ll have to be conscious of and deal with for the rest of my life. And maybe I do have some kind of other food addiction and that’s why I still have a bit of a hankering for that “really stuffed” feeling that I used to get from the old way of eating. Learning what real hunger is and trying to pay attention to my body and what it wants is a whole new world for me. I’m getting better at it every day and I really do put it all down to the power of nutritional ketosis, found through eating low-carb. I firmly believe that a lot of people with food addiction/uncontrollable appetite issues would benefit incredibly from switching over to the low-carb WOE. It’s not a cure-all by any stretch of the imagination (what is?) but it frees you up to really be able to get control over food consumption and learn the difference between cravings, appetite and hunger.

    I will forever be a work in process, but I’m eternally grateful to have found a liberating and fairly easy method of not only controlling my weight, but also the insanely vacillating “appetite” that caused me to overeat and become very overweight.

    Thanks for blogging about this. I think more people really need to be made aware of the fact that disordered eating isn’t something confined to the much more well known issues like anorexia and bulimia.

    Have a lovely day!

    Blue

    PS. I don’t know if it’s something to do with the coding on your side, but I’m unable to ‘like’ your posts. It just says ‘loading’ constantly in the place where I would click like. You might have to look at that, so us readers can give you that feedback and help with your visibility. Also, I don’t know if it’s an intentional omission, but you don’t have a ‘reblog’ feature on your site. I’d love to be able to reblog some of your stuff on my own blog because I think you’ve written some really good stuff in a much better, more concise way than I ever could (I’m a waffler – had you noticed? Lol). Anyway, just something you might want to include…or if you already have it, please point me in the right direction, because you write some great stuff. x

    1. Hi there, Blue 🙂

      Thank you for leaving me a message and thank you for sharing your own experience in this. I can imagine it must be horrible going on keto while you are still constantly craving for sugar. I myself cannot do it because I would definitely miss carbs, but I wish you the best of luck on your keto.

      Indeed people are usually associating eating disorder to people who avoid food, but never thought that the other extreme is as dangerous. I wish to write stuff like this so that I can spread the knowledge one reader at a time. 🙂

      And oh! Thank you very much to let me know about the like button and the reblog feature problem. I never realised there’s a glitch there — maybe the theme or plugin interfered with that. I would take a look at it 🙂 xx

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