Food compulsion: how to treat? See what it is and symptoms

Behavioral syndromes related to food have been the field of in-depth studies, resulting in several studies on patients and their conditions, as well as a better delimitation of different disorders.

Especially in the last 30 years, there was a great medical and psychological manifestation to better understand the triggering and related factors, in addition to their consequent complications, especially in cases of bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder (BED).

Studies indicate that up to 5% of the world population suffers from some type of eating disorder. But the rates may be even higher, because most patients do not seek professional help.

Eating, which carries a social and affective bond, then becomes an act of suffering and enters the field of pathologies.


What is binge eating?

The condition, called binge eating disorder (BED) is related to brain chemical disorders, in which perceptions of hunger and satiety are altered.

In 1959, Stunkard described binge eating disorder from a group of obese people who presented with binge eating, but without compensatory methods.

There are several denominations, such as “compulsive eating”, “binge eating attacks” or “Binge Eating”, but all designate BED, Periodic Compulsive Eating Disorder.

The causes of the eating disorder are multifactorial, and can be caused and influenced by genetic, sociocultural factors and biological and psychological vulnerabilities. In general, there is an individual predisposition to eating disorders, which can be accentuated by external factors.

Most people have either overdone their family lunch or ate too much chocolate after a stressful day. Even when there is a feeling of gluttony by the person himself, these sporadic conditions are not classified as compulsion.

To be a compulsive eating disorder, excessive meals must be accompanied by regret or guilt. Although they may occur with varying frequencies, in general, at least 2 episodes of compulsive crisis (exaggerated meals) are stipulated weekly.

The attacks are also followed by great frustration or emotional pain. But the loss of control over food is the main aspect to be observed.

It is not as if the patient wants to eat a little more or feels that he should not eat so much. Compulsion is like an unbearable need to eat large amounts of food, usually in order to compensate for some emotional conflict.

The compulsive patient can often be affected by the feeling of helplessness towards food, in addition to developing obsessive thoughts about food. In these cases, meals are less and less spaced and the entire concentration of the patient turns to food intake.

In some cases, there are products that tend to trigger the binge episode more easily, such as sweets and foods high in saturated fat. But in some cases, patients just feel the need to over-eat any type of food, including those considered healthy.

Meals are followed by an inability to interrupt the meal when satiety is achieved. Thus, the patient is affected by regret, guilt and shame for not maintaining control.

The episodes usually occur without the knowledge of family or friends due to the feeling of embarrassment in the face of the action.

Although there is an approximation with the condition of bulimia nervosa, in binge eating there is no presence of compensatory acts (avoiding weight gain) after the crises and, therefore, the tendency is to result in weight gain.

The condition is listed under Appendix B of DSM IV – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders -, which covers eating disorders without any other specification, and under ICD F50.9 , for unspecified eating disorder.

In short, overeating is characterized as an eating disorder when eating much larger amounts than other meals, in short, limited periods of time, followed by emotional apprehension.

Food changes

On the one hand, we have a large food supply, on the other, we have the rise in diets and restrictions. Between the two extremes are individuals who are increasingly vulnerable, trapped in patterns and susceptible to psychological and eating disorders.

After the industrial revolution, society started to live in a capitalist logic of accumulation that includes, among the accumulated goods, food. The greater supply in trade and the relative economic rise, caused consumption habits to be gradually changed.

After periods of crisis, the food industry has also changed. Markets, which used to consist mainly of perishable foods, began to offer increasingly durable products: frozen, canned, dehydrated.

Needing to increase durability, the products are added with preservatives and regulators, which also change the nutritional constitution.

People have also changed their rhythms of life and routine. Eating out has become more and more common, the number of restaurants has grown considerably in recent years, fast foods have broken out and the lack of time for a more balanced and natural diet has been devoured by urban needs.

It has become increasingly difficult to choose homemade and balanced food when it competes for space with so many chains of industrialized products , much easier, faster and more accessible.

The villain of urban food is, above all, the change in food composition. In a survey conducted by Nielsen Global, more than half of the respondents, about 53% prefer to have fast-food lunches. The large amount of sodium, calories and fats present in this food resulted in changes in the balance.

The average weight of Brazilians has risen by 60% in the last 10 years, mainly due to poor diet and sedentary habits. Overweight and obesity are visible problems of these dietary changes, but what about when the health risks are not so visible?

While about 57% of society is overweight, there is a growing – and worrying – increase in diagnoses of eating disorders. Among them, binge eating, which represents 4.7% of cases in Brazil.

Often the condition is mistaken for gluttony, exaggeration or laziness to start a diet. But compulsion is exactly what the name suggests: the lack of pathological control over food.


Eating disorders are extremely debated in the psychiatric and social environment. There are a number of factors that are linked, composing possible origins of the problem. But determining the causative agent is still quite complex.

Genetic factors

There is no knowledge of a gene that triggers compulsive eating or other eating disorders. The genetic inheritance, conduit, is a very present factor in the propensity to diverse disorders.

This is because the body shape, the physical attributes and the difficulty in losing weight can be incidents that lead the patient to low self-esteem and image distortions.

When there is an intense body dissatisfaction or a severe difficulty in losing weight, the physical condition becomes a factor of suffering and anguish.

Often, the pressure and demand that there is on the overweight person is so great that the compulsive eating disorder can develop, associated or not with other emotional problems, such as anxiety and depression .

Neurochemical factors

Recent studies indicate changes in neural activities in the regions of the cingulate, frontal, temporal and parietal cortex. These brain activities are related to the control of natural behaviors, such as eating and sexual behavior.

Research shows that different eating disorders have different neurological behavior. In other words, the brain of a patient with anorexia responds in different ways when compared to the patient with compulsion, indicating the presence of neurochemical alteration related to the compulsive condition.

There are signs that reward systems (which give a sense of pleasure) are directly related to compulsive behaviors. Therefore, people with addictions or compulsions have their ability to choose and self-control reduced.

Researches also show that metabolic values ​​are altered in patients with BED. In which the hormones leptin, ghrelin and cholecystokinin, related to satiety functions, regulation of metabolic rates and the perception of food intake, show significant changes.

Psychological disorders

Food and eating are strongly related to emotions, so there is a high incidence of eating disorders related to emotional states.

Just as there are people who lose their hunger in times of stress and anxiety, others resort to food to discount emotions and frustrations.

In addition, patients being treated for depression or generalized anxiety disorder tend to have occasional eating disorders, such as difficulty eating or severe hunger.

In these cases, appetite dysfunctions are conditioned to depression or anxiety, and are not an eating disorder.

However, as psychological illnesses present, with some regularity, interdependence with changes in food (discounting emotions in meals), they can predispose the patient to compulsive eating habits.

Emotional factors

Low self-esteem , excessive self-charging, the desire to lose weight or conform to aesthetic standards become risky behaviors in a society that tends to exert great aesthetic pressure.

The collection and imposition of family and friends, as well as living in environments that overvalue diets and aesthetics can favor image disorders, making the person feel inadequate and develop inappropriate and unhealthy eating habits.

Rigid diets

Research shows that up to 95% of people who already follow some type of restrictive diet (those in which the intake of at least one nutrient is drastically reduced) regain weight.

Review studies indicate that the majority of people who went on a diet did it without medical or nutritional monitoring. Generally, opting for restrictive menus, which are those in which some food or nutrient is severely cut or restricted, in order to reduce caloric intake.

In addition to the vast majority gaining weight again, in some cases, the patient reaches a greater weight than he had before starting the diet.

These factors – difficulty maintaining the menu and subsequent weight gain – affect emotional decompensation, feelings of frustration and neurochemical changes, which can alter the healthy relationship with food.

Oppressive environments

Adding to the socio-cultural pressure, there are contexts that favor the development of dangerous eating behaviors.

The most common involve public acting professions, such as models, actresses and actors, and singers, who generally have severe demands on the body and appearance.

In 2015, the French Senate adopted amendments for National Health in which models below BMI 18 (body mass index) cannot be contracted or linked to campaigns. The measure aims to discourage the charging of agencies and the advertising of exacerbated thinness and the influence in other social spheres, especially in children and adolescents.

The measure proves to be effective, as research carried out between 2007 and 2011 shows that children who witness strict diets in family environments (from parents or siblings) or through the media are more likely to develop eating disorders during childhood, which can last until childhood. adolescence or extending into adulthood.

Food and binge eating

The processed foods are added various chemical compounds that act conserving food, enhancing or imparting flavors and artificial flavors. In addition, research in nutrition points out the high index of sugars and fats added to them.

Especially saturated fat and refined sugar act directly on the brain, causing feelings of well-being. Published studies show that eating milk chocolate promotes sensations that are similar to the effects of relaxing medications.

These effects come from the high amount of tryptophan, derived from milk, and phenylethylamine, present in cocoa.

When ingesting the product, especially if there are high concentrations of sugar, there is a promotion of comfort and relaxation, but it quickly runs out. Thus, the organism, which desires a feeling of well-being again, stimulates the desire to eat that food again.

The desire to eat more sweets or foods high in fat is, to some extent, normal. Being a natural response of the body in search of pleasure. But when the person is predisposed to eating disorder, that desire is not processed in a healthy way.

The will becomes a necessity and affects the person in an uncontrollable way, being charged with guilt

In addition, very strict diets can act by arousing an exaggerated desire about eating. Therefore, when the diet greatly reduces the size or quality of meals, especially by forbidding certain foods (such as sugar), there is a possibility of creating a latent need, as if the body were to withdraw.

Risk factors

Individual factors that represent risks can be:

  • Previous diagnosis of eating disorder;
  • Excessive or constant diets;
  • Excessive concern with aesthetics and weight;
  • Obesity;
  • Depression and anxiety;
  • Low self-esteem and image distortion.

However, people involved in activities of great body exposure (such as public people) and who are subject to constant rigid diets also make up susceptible groups.


In general, loss of control over meals is reported. The patient feels unable to stop eating even when he is already satiated.

The condition of binge eating is qualified when there are recurrent episodes of overeating in short periods of time, about 2 hours.

While the average daily calorie recommendation is around 2,000 kcal, a binge person can eat more than 5,000 kcal in a single meal. Food is badly chewed, sometimes even swallowed almost whole.

Many patients eat in hiding, creating eating routines that involve eating alone, storing or hiding food, and avoiding public occasions when there will be food.

The feeling of anguish and regret follows immediately after a compulsive crisis, causing the person to enter a cycle of guilt and self-depreciation.

Anxiety, depression and other compulsive disorders can present. Body dissatisfaction can lead to a feeling of social inadequacy, which becomes an aggravating factor for depressive conditions.

It is also possible that social occasions, especially those involving food, will be avoided by the patient, due to the anxiety and shame of eating in public. This leads to social, family and emotional isolation.

So, in summary, you can have an associated picture of at least 3 symptoms listed below:

Among the clinical symptoms:

  • Loss of control at meals;
  • Eat fast and swallow whole pieces of food;
  • Compulsions occurring at least 3 times a week;
  • Ingesting excessively excessive amounts of food.

Among the emotional symptoms:

  • Repentance, guilt, shame and embarrassment after compulsion;
  • Low self-esteem and image distortion;
  • Depression, anxiety, and psychological disorders;
  • Inhibition and escape from social events.

Obesity and binge eating


Studies indicate that people with compulsive eating disorder are more predisposed to becoming obese, due to high caloric intake, however the condition is not necessarily related to obesity.

While the disorder affects about 1.5% of the general population, the rate rises to 8% in the obese, 30% in patients undergoing treatment or diets for weight loss, and reaches 50% in those who have morbid obesity.

According to the criteria of the World Health Organization, obesity is diagnosed using the Body Mass Index (BMI). In addition, waist circumference and cardiovascular assessments help to compose the picture of obesity.

BMI is determined by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height (in centimeters) squared. That is, weight ÷ height x height.

Check out the BMI below:

  • Very underweight: 16 to 16.9;
  • Underweight: 17 to 18.4;
  • Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9;
  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9;
  • Grade I obesity: 30 to 40;
  • Morbid obesity: greater than 40.

Obesity can also be the result of a sum of factors that hinder weight loss or favor the accumulation of fats.

There are people more genetically predisposed to put on weight, with slower metabolism, sedentary or inappropriate nutritional behaviors (high intake of calories and fats, for example).

Studies in the area of ​​nutritional psychology indicate the need to disconnect obesity from the act of compulsive eating. It is possible that people with BMI within the normal range have the disorder, which is characterized more by the emotional distress involved than by weight.

Bulimia and binge eating

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by episodes of excessive food intake followed by compensatory conditions, such as vomiting, use of laxatives, long periods of fasting or exhaustive physical activity, in order to avoid weight gain.

As with binge eating, meals are usually accompanied by anguish, shame and the feeling of losing control over food.

As there is no noticeable change in weight, the diagnosis tends to take even longer. Feeding is often done in hiding to avoid feelings of guilt and judgment from others.

Although compulsive eating is not followed by compensatory conditions, bulimia can present itself as a later condition. When seizures become more frequent and lead to weight gain, some patients resort to compensatory methods, developing bulimic conditions.

The disorder tends to have more serious consequences due to the practices adopted to prevent weight gain.

Vomiting can damage the stomach and esophagus, weaken the teeth (due to gastric juice), cause imbalance of nutrients and minerals. The use of laxatives can harm the intestinal flora and cause changes in nutritional absorption.

Nighttime food compulsion

As with other eating disorders, there is still recent research on nocturnal eating syndrome, also called nocturnal binge eating.

In general, patients have adequate eating habits and routines during the day. There are no great efforts or emotional difficulties in following the menu or eating meals moderately during the day.

But at night the behavior changes and the compulsive conditions occur after the patient has fallen asleep, usually between 2 and 3 hours later. In this condition, the person wakes up with the need to eat and usually feels unable to return to sleep without eating any food.

Unlike binge eating, nocturnal eating syndrome is not necessarily characterized by excessive food intake. That is, it may be that eating a small portion is enough. Even so, the tendency is to eat high-calorie foods, rich in fat, sugars or sodium.

The disorder is classified as parasomnia, which is configured by different behaviors, movements and habits that occur while the person sleeps.

There are still different reports regarding the perceptual level. Some patients report total awareness of the action and others who are unable to remember the action.

Often, if there is no accessible food nearby, the patient is able to travel long distances, even leaving home (whether they are conscious or not). In general, sleep is quickly restored after eating.

Studies have identified that people affected by the nocturnal syndrome have lower rates of melatonin – responsible for inducing and maintaining sleep – and leptin – responsible for feeling full during the night.

Adequate levels and leptin prevent sleep from being interrupted due to a lack of food, but it remains to be seen whether hunger is responsible for interrupting sleep or if it is only noticed after waking up.

Associated diseases

Binge eating can aggravate or trigger depressive, anxious or other compulsions, in addition to causing other eating disorders, especially bulimia.

With regard to biological and physiological conditions, the following diseases and conditions prevail:

  • Overweight or obesity;
  • Hypertension;
  • Kidney problems caused by excess calcium;
  • Sleep apnea;
  • Metabolic changes;
  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • High cholesterol;
  • Reflux;
  • Heart problems.

The above conditions are the result, above all, of the excess of nutrients ingested.

Sodium, fats, carbohydrates and calcium are some of the components that can overload the body and result in pathologies or metabolic disorders and, in general, are the most consumed in compulsive crises.

In addition, the higher the frequency of binge eating, the greater the chance of a change in weight. In this case, in addition to excess nutrients, there are risks arising from weight gain, which affects complications.

The increase in weight can bring a feeling of marked fatigue , decrease the motor capacity and cause or aggravate sedentary lifestyle.

How the diagnosis is made

The diagnosis comprises a difficult stage in the patient’s life. In general, there is resistance to admitting the problem, which is permeated by guilt and shame.

Often, there is still misinformation and lack of perception. That is, the patient does not understand that there is an eating disorder and persists in the idea that he needs a diet.

Disinformation is often reinforced by the stereotypes that obese people are lazy or that just enough effort to lose weight.

Follow-up surveys report that most patients turn to an endocrinologist or nutritionist in search of weight loss treatments, without prior knowledge of BED. The disorder is then initially diagnosed and referred to psychologists and psychiatrists.

Nutrition professionals, nutritionists and nutrologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and endocrinologists are able to diagnose cases of compulsion.

Is there a cure?

In general, with regard to eating disorders, there is talk of conditions of multiple interferences, with few possibilities of cure, but which tend to show good results if properly treated.

How to treat binge eating?

Just as the causes are diverse, the treatment of binge eating is multidisciplinary. In general, it is necessary to carry out psychological and nutritional monitoring, and in some cases, the use of psychiatric drugs is also necessary.

In most diagnoses, joint monitoring with the psychologist, nutritionist and endocrinologist is indicated for the long term. It is difficult to measure the period of treatment, but experts suggest that it be done for years or a lifetime, as eating disorders are conditions that stabilize, but do not necessarily heal.

Psychiatric therapy, on the other hand, with the use of medications, is usually used in shorter periods and the tendency is to gradually decrease the use of drugs and appetite suppressants, when the patient’s condition allows their disposal.


The psychological area is quite wide and the choice of the treatment line must also consider the patient’s characteristics.

Among the options applied in TCAP, the methods that have good results are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy;
  • Psychotherapy;
  • Psychoeducational interventions.

Each method mobilizes different lines of approach, and it is necessary to encompass the entire emotional framework of the patient. That is, more than punctually treating binge eating episodes, it is important to check the causative agents.

Possible related traumas, body dissatisfaction, insecurity and low self-esteem, in addition to other psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can be the triggers of crises.

Cognitive therapies

There are different types of psychotherapy, which work on different points and aspects. In general, the method works mainly by helping the patient to understand and better deal with the situations that are part of his life.

Through individual or group sessions, professional psychotherapists aim to change the person’s behavior through self-awareness, identification and control of emotions. That is, the therapy aims to control emotional variations so that binge eating is not triggered.

Studies show that psychotherapy has good results by identifying a topic of the disorder. In other words, with sessions of conversation and emotional investigation, the professional is able to trace a central point of conflict.

In general, this theme is always related to compulsive crises in a more or less noticeable way. Thus, if the conflicting aspect is the non-acceptance of overweight, all the relations that lead to this are worked on, such as the interiorization of beauty standards, the external demand for appearance and the comparison with stereotyped bodies (thin or muscular models, for example). example).

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most investigated interventions in BED, as well as its effects. Studies suggest that the results are quite effective and, therefore, the indication of the approach to eating disorders has been growing.

Review of studies show that the method affects both compulsive episodes and the patient’s self-perception, improving the associated symptoms (low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, insecurity, for example).

In summary, the method starts from the notion that emotional disorders and dysfunctions (in this case, eating disorders) are associated with other distorted perceptions. Thus, the patient eats too much as a way to compensate for other bad feelings, frustrations or insecurities.

There are also behavioral techniques involved in the approach in order to improve or modify the patient’s eating habits. In this regard, the patient is encouraged to observe his / her patterns at the time of eating, to register the menu, to point out which foods or occasions most easily trigger compulsions.

Self-observation implies a better awareness of oneself and favors responses to therapy, since each person has different compulsive motivations.


Therapy involves understanding the entire context and experience of the patient. In this case, school, professional, family and individual issues are included.

All situations are mobilized in order to assist the treatment of the patient, promoting the knowledge of family members, colleagues and friends about compulsive eating disorders, which can contribute to systemic treatment, helping to reduce conflicting situations.


Through a joint treatment with the psychologist, the nutritionist aims to reduce compulsive conditions through a balanced diet. Being fundamental to reorganize the patient’s food routine.

In general, the professional will assist in setting up an appropriate menu, considering the compulsive condition and the patient’s routine. Meal times, as well as quantity, are adjusted in order to facilitate the adoption of dietary reeducation .

Routines can also be stipulated in order to reduce weight, supplement nutrients and assist with pathologies (such as diabetes , controlling carbohydrates, or high cholesterol, reducing fats).


Studies in the psychiatric field suggest that eating disorders cannot be classified solely as psychiatric disorders, since there are often biological changes, such as hormonal changes.

For example, it is identified that patients with binge eating have less secretion of leptin, a hormone that promotes a feeling of satiety. It is usually difficult to define whether physiological and neurological changes are the cause or consequence of eating disorders.

The psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help reduce hunger, increase satiety and lose weight. In addition, other factors involved, such as depression and anxiety, are treated.

Binge Eating Remedies

With psychiatric treatment, the professional can indicate medications in order to improve emotional conditions, such as depression, anxiety, panic syndrome and social phobia .

In addition, drugs that reduce hunger are effective in the evolution of the condition, and can also be indicated by endocrinologists.

The most suitable are:

  • Sertraline hydrochloride and fluoxetine hydrochloride : act on serotonin, assisting in the stabilization of depressive and anxious boards, promoting greater welfare.
  • Topiramate : works by reducing binge eating and improving the perception of satiety. The substance is effective in reducing compulsive episodes, including in patients with bulimia.
  • Orlistate : indicated for the treatment of obesity and overweight, especially in cases with associated diseases (autoimmune, for example).
  • Metformin : acts by decreasing the synthesis of carbohydrates, by acting directly on the hormone insulin. Its action involves light reduction and weight stabilization.
  • Sibutramine hydrochloride : the drug is widely used by those who want to lose weight, as it promotes the release of LPG 1, a hormone that inhibits hunger. However, the drug can increase anxiety levels.
  • Lysdexamphetamine dimesylate : works by reducing hunger and exaggerated appetite.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

How To Control Binge Eating


Some people are resistant to seeking help, trying to alleviate suffering alone, but BED is a disorder that needs medical and psychological treatment.

Some methods indicated by health professionals are techniques of self-knowledge and self-control, in order to minimize compulsion. These are techniques that aim to help the patient in daily life if accompanied by the correct medical treatment.

Identify the facilitator

It is recommended that the patient analyze the causes that favor compulsions. Situations of stress and anxiety, difficulty in dealing with problems, worsening self-esteem, in addition to realizing if there is any food that favors excessive intake, must be perceived by the patient.

When there is more knowledge about the triggering factors, the better are the possibilities of working with them in therapy and avoiding or reducing them.

Hunger scale

Unlike alcohol cravings, in which the patient should no longer drink, the patient with a craving for food cannot stop eating. But it is necessary to differentiate physiological hunger from emotional hunger.

Some nutritionists and psychologists suggest scaling up hunger, that is, from a criterion of 0 to 10, how urgent the next meal should be. This prevents the patient from eating out of anxiety, boredom or without hunger.

Do not make severe restrictions

This is a gradual but necessary task. Although at the beginning of the treatment, it is generally indicated to avoid more fatty and sugar-rich foods, learning to eat them moderately is fundamental to rebuild the good relationship with the food.

Healthy habits

Studies indicate that eating in front of the television, in a hurry or doing other activities affects a greater food intake. This is because the body is not aware of the meal.

In addition to inattention, the people surveyed chewed less and ate faster, enjoying less flavor.

So, eating slowly, chewing well and paying attention to the meal helps to control binge eating.

Do not skip meals

Reports indicate that, before starting treatment or in the first few months, patients tend to skip meals or go for long periods without eating to avoid possible compulsions.

However, in addition to disorganizing the food routine, causing nutritional deficiencies, the strategy can accentuate the compulsive condition, since hunger is accentuated and the tendency is to eat more to satisfy your appetite.

Maintain a pleasant routine

It is essential to associate habits that provide pleasure and well-being to the patient. Taking courses, physical activities and dedicating daily or weekly time to self-care can alleviate emotional distress.

It is not always possible to avoid or eliminate the triggering factors, but stabilizing anxiety levels facilitates food maintenance.

Knowing how to deal with everyday situations also means that depressive, low self-esteem and anxious conditions are minimized, improving mental health as a whole.

Physical activities

Frequent physical activity promotes numerous benefits to the body. Exercises stimulate serotonin and dopamine, hormones that involve the sensation of pleasure and well-being.

With the increase of substances, the compulsive conditions arising from mood swings are eased, as soon as the organism does not need to resort to other sources of pleasure.

In addition, the activities act directly on the patient’s weight, and may favor weight loss. As there is a direct relationship between body dissatisfaction and situations of excessive food intake, weight reduction can assist in the treatment.

Stress reduction

There are activities that can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, such as meditation, yoga, pilates and alternative therapies, such as naturotherapy.

Practicing any of these activities favors well-being, promotes socialization, decreases anxiety and, as a consequence, alleviates compulsions.

While aerobic exercises (with high caloric expenditure) help to reduce weight, yoga and stretching classes help with flexibility, relaxation and also bring benefits to physical health. In addition, as they are activities with less impact, they tend to be practiced more easily by obese or overweight patients.


Patients who adequately perform therapeutic and nutritional monitoring tend to have good prognosis.

In general, overweight or obese people tend to gradually reduce weight, minimizing health risks.

Psychological and emotional conditions are also stabilized, showing improvements in mood, self-esteem, well-being and anxiety.


Episodes of excessive food intake can cause gastrointestinal changes, difficulty in digestion, reflux and heartburn .

More frequent is weight gain, which can lead to obesity.

In this respect, the body is compromised by dietary changes, which tend to be rich in fats, calories, carbohydrates and sugars. There is a greater tendency to trigger high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

Osteoarthritis, which is a serious condition of degenerative arthritis , is also related to obesity and, therefore, can affect patients who present marked weight gain.

Other complications arising from obesity are related to the routine, as there is a difficulty in mobility and independence caused by excessive weight.

In the emotional aspect, binge eating can aggravate or trigger depressive and phobic conditions. What tends to harm the patient’s routine, which usually stops attending public environments, social events, and can also affect the professional and family environment.

How to prevent

In addition to the association with emotions (individual and genetic predispositions), the social, family and professional context can be triggering.

Prevention, therefore, involves the adoption of mental health care and the adoption of healthy habits, especially dietary habits, avoiding diets without specialized monitoring.

Being aware of emotional and psychological changes, whether or not followed by traumatic episodes, helps to maintain mental health as a whole.

Common questions

Do I need to be overweight or obese to have binge eating?

No. The patient with binge eating is not always overweight or obese.

This is because, despite stipulating at least 3 compulsive eating conditions during the week, the other meals can be balanced, combined with physical activity or the amount of calories ingested during crises is not enough to generate an excessive weight gain.

How much time does the treatment last?

When there are drugs associated with the treatment, whenever possible, the tendency is to reduce them and end the use.

However, psychological and nutritional treatment is constant and has no fixed time. Some patients may respond more quickly to therapy, while others require longer and more constant follow-up.

Is it possible to have relapses after treatment?

When it comes to eating disorders, a cure is hardly established, but a constant maintenance of treatment and results. Therefore, it is necessary that the patient undergo constant monitoring in order not to refer to the condition of nutritional disorder.