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How Many Calories In a Binge?

Mar 14, 2022
Two bitten doughnuts

How many times have you laid in bed, post-binge, sick to your stomach, riddled with guilt and frantically tried to calculate the number of calories you have just consumed? 


Or how many times have you told yourself that as long as you stay under a certain number of calories for a day then you are still being “good”, and it doesn’t truly count as a binge? 


If you are anything like me then you have been through this more times than you can count.


I can’t tell you how many times I have ‘re-emerged’ from a binge, as if I was waking from a trance, surrounded by the empty packets of all the food I had just eaten. As I assessed the damage of what I had just done I would enlist the help of my trusty friend MyFitnessPal to tell me just how “bad” I had been. 


How Many Calories Constitutes a "Binge"?


Although some sources characterise eating 1,000+ calories in a short period of time as a binge, other sources do not specify a number. Statistics typically show that a quarter of binges are over 2,000 calories, and some reach up to 15,000 or more. 


Note that the official definition of Binge Eating does not specify a number: the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) describes binge eating as uncontrollably eating considerably larger amounts of food in comparison to what the average person would, in a similar amount of time and under similar circumstances. 


There isn’t one magical number which can define a binge. 


For example: a 6 foot 4 tall man may consider a 1,500 meal as an indulgence - maybe a large pizza. He may not feel as if this felt like a binge. Whereas a 5 ft woman could feel physically unwell after eating that much food in one sitting.


Another example: Someone who hasn't eaten until 3pm may eat a large late-lunch of 1,300 calories and feel fine. However, someone who has already eaten all 3 meals in the day might binge eat 1,300 calories at 9pm feeling distressed. Two different scenarios. 


How Do I Know If I Binged?


Remember that while bingeing involves eating a considerably larger amount of food than normal, it's also characterised by the way in which you ate and how you felt. If you're unsure whether you binged, ask yourself these questions:


  • Did you feel like you had no control over your actions?
  • Did you eat in secret or alone?
  • Did you eat that amount of food very quickly?
  • Did eating feel like the only solution, like an itch which just had to be scratched?
  • Did you eat way past fullness, to the point of feeling unwell?
  • Did you zone out and re-emerge with a hazy memory of the past few hours of eating? 
  • Did you feel emotionally distressed afterwards - regretful, disgusted, shameful?



If you answered yes to several of these questions - then it is likely that you did binge.


All of this to say is, there isn’t one number which can define a binge for you, or anyone else.


Is 500 Calories A Binge?


While the amount of calories in a binge is slightly subjective, a low number like 500 is certainly not a binge. Remember that binge eating involves eating a large amount of food - much larger than one would normally eat. 500 calories is a pretty standard size meal - not a binge. 


That being said, if you feel distressed eating 500 calories in one sitting - I would recommend reaching out for help from a professional. You may not be struggling with Binge Eating Disorder, but it's likely that you're struggling with another form of disordered eating.


Get Help With Binge Eating Disorder

If you’re tired of repeating this same binge-restrict pattern, please know that you are not alone! I understand what you’re going through and I know how hopeless yet another binge can leave you feeling. 


If you would like to finally kick this habit to the curb then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


The 30 day Reboot course will teach you to recognise and dismiss an urge to binge, allowing you to ultimately re-connect with your higher-self.

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