National Eating Disorders Association

The chance for recovery increases the earlier binge eating disorder is detected. Therefore, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of an eating disorder. 

An individual with an eating disorder generally won’t have all of these signs and symptoms at once, and warning signs and symptoms vary across eating disorders, so this isn’t intended as a checklist. Rather, it is intended as a general overview of the types of behaviors that may indicate an eating disorder. If you have any concerns about yourself or a loved one, please seek additional medical help.

Emotional and behavioral signs of binge eating disorder

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others 
  • Any new practice with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
  • Fear of eating in public or with others
  • Steals or hoards food in strange places  
  • Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions  
  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities 
  • Frequently diets  
  • Shows extreme concern with body weight and shape  
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Has secret recurring episodes of binge eating (eating in a discrete period of time an amount of food that is much larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances); feels lack of control over ability to stop eating  
  • Disruption in normal eating behaviors, including eating throughout the day with no planned mealtimes; skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals; engaging in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting
  • Developing food rituals (e.g., eating only a particular food or food group [e.g., condiments], excessive chewing, not allowing foods to touch).
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten
  • Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after overeating
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Feelings of low self-esteem

Physical signs of binge eating disorder

  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down 
  • Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.) 
  • Difficulties concentrating