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Am I an overeater or binge-eater? The difference between overeating and binge-eating

Sep 08, 2021

Binge-eating and overeating can easily be confused as both allude to excessive consumption of food. But there is absolutely a difference and that is what we will get into in this article.


Everyone overeats from time to time, whether it’s enjoying that extra slice of pizza, feasting on Thanksgiving dinner or getting dessert when you are already full. But when do you cross the line over to binge-eating or even Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?




A binge is characterized by eating excessive amounts of calories in one sitting, far beyond what one would normally eat. It’s often eaten in a short period of time (eating quickly), while feeling out-of-control and impulsive. Afterwards, you feel emotionally distressed, guilty and ashamed.



Typically, a binge is 1,000 calories or more.


If you’d like to explore why you binge and how to stop, get instant access to my FREE masterclass on that here.


When does binge eating become Binge Eating Disorder (BED)? Binge eating can be a one-off act. But it can be a symptom of BED when the binges become a recurrent act (at least once a week for 3 months). For a full description of what BED is, head to this article.


BED is a clinically diagnosable eating disorder to be taken seriously, it can be severe and even life-threatening.


Now that we know what a binge is, what exactly is overeating then?




Overeating is the act of eating past what your body needs in terms of fullness. It can happen fairly often for most people. As mentioned at the beginning, it can look like going for the extra slice of pizza when you’re already full, or enjoying a cultural celebration where you may overindulge in all of the delicious food.


Overeating is usually situationally or emotionally based and the emotional distress that’s seen in binge-eating either isn’t present with overeating or is much less intense. Overeating has a higher level of awareness to it - it’s less impulsive as binge-eating.


Some may use ‘compulsive overeating’ and ‘binge-eating’ synonymously - experts may refer to ‘compulsive overeating’ as a symptom of BED.



If you’re overeating only occasionally, this is not considered an eating disorder. However, compulsive overeating, where you feel out-of-control and emotionally distressed afterwards, otherwise known as binge-eating, is a key symptom of BED. Compulsive overeating (bingeing) is also a symptom of bulimia nervosa.

To summarise...



  • Overeating is quite normal and most people do it fairly often. Binge-eating is a key symptom of BED, a diagnosable eating disorder.
  • Overeating usually involves more consciousness (you know you’re going overboard and choose to) whereas binge-eating is compulsive - you feel out-of-control and unstoppable.
  • Overeating can involve guilt and distress after but may not. Binge-eating is intense and highly emotionally distressing.
  • Overeating can be done alone or in front of other people, like at social gatherings. Binge-eating is often done in secret.
  • Overeating usually doesn’t affect your eating patterns outside of the overeating event. Binge-eating often affects how you eat throughout the day - potentially extreme measures to compensate for the binge like purging as seen in bulimia nervosa.
  • Overeating indicates eating more than your body needs for satiation, however binge-eating takes it to another level. One may consume 1,000s of calories in one sitting.


Whether it’s basic overeating or recurrent binge-eating (BED), both are treatable and don’t need to be a permanent part of your life. Creating a healthy, happy relationship with food and your body is 100% possible.

Start your food and body healing journey with the FREE masterclass

"Why You're Still Binge-Eating & How To Stop"