Bingeing or Overeating — What’s the Difference?

Written by: Maheen Asif – M.Sc (Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : August 18, 2022

 

Bingeing and overeating are similar in that they both involve eating too much. But there is a difference!

Everyone occasionally eats too much, whether it’s an extra slice of pizza or dessert when you’re already full. But when do you go too far and start bingeing?

If you think binge eating is when you eat until you’re too full or eat a lot of foods you think are unhealthy for you, you’re wrong! Even though overeating is a part of binge eating, it doesn’t mean you’re binging every time you eat too much. Overeating and binge eating are not the same thing at all.

Bingeing and overeating are similar in that they both involve eating too much. But there is a difference!

Everyone occasionally eats too much, whether it’s an extra slice of pizza or dessert when you’re already full. But when do you go too far and start bingeing?

If you think binge eating is when you eat until you’re too full or eat a lot of foods you think are unhealthy for you, you’re wrong! Even though overeating is a part of binge eating, it doesn’t mean you’re binging every time you eat too much. Overeating and binge eating are not the same thing at all.

Chapter 1:
What Is Overeating?

Everyone overeats sometimes. You might eat too many pieces of pizza, go back for seconds of a favorite dish, or eat too much popcorn while watching a late-night movie.

We all do it. Think about “Thanksgiving.” We eat a delicious meal with friends and family and may eat too much because we’re having so much fun. It’s fun to do. Is this an issue? No! Overeating can be a way to enjoy a delicious meal you spent all day making with family or friends or enjoy the taste and satisfaction of a favorite food.

There are no rules about how much food is too much to be considered “normal” overeating. If you eat too much once or more than once, you might want to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do you eat more food than most people would if they were in the same situation and had the same amount of time?
  • What do you feel like when you eat too much?

Binge eaters can feel anything from intense pleasure to disgust during and after they overeat.

One way to overeat would be to get up during a holiday meal to get seconds. Bingeing is when you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time and feel like you’re out of control.

In general, people who binge eat tend to eat more often than those who only do it once in a while. Note that grazing, which is constantly snacking throughout the day, is not the same as bingeing.

Reason Of Overeating

People often eat too much because of less important things, like boredom, taste, satisfaction, or enjoyment. If this keeps happening, it could become more of a problem, but you don’t need to worry about it in general. For example, while watching tv, eating too much without knowing. Try to eat without any distraction for a while.

Pay attention to your body and how you feel while you eat to know when you’re full. If you tend to eat too much when something tastes great, think about how satisfied you are with other meals and snacks. If other meals and snacks don’t fill you up, you’re more likely to want to overeat when you give yourself something more filling.

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Chapter 2:
What is Bingeing?

There are several ways in which binge eating is different from “normal” overeating.

  • You eat food more rapidly
  • Loss of control over how much food you eat
  • After the episode, the person feels disgusted, regretful, or guilty.
  • People may eat alone because they are embarrassed by how much food they eat.

People with binge eating disorders may say that they feel like they have no control over what and how much they eat when they overeat. Some people with bingeing eat say they feel like they have to eat as if they can’t stop.

Some people who binge eat might hide food in strange places or even steal food from other people. They eat alone because they are embarrassed or ashamed of how much they eat.

Another big difference between overeating and binge eating is that binge eaters don’t stop eating because they feel sick. If someone who eats too much hears that voice, they are likely to stop eating.

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Chapter 3:
When Does Overeating Turn Into Bingeing?

 

So, if overeating is not bingeing, when does it become a binge?

Most of the time, this overeating is caused by an uncontrollable urge to keep eating. Even when you start to feel sick from eating so much, you can’t stop. You feel like you’ve lost control and are about to pass out, and you keep eating a lot in a short amount of time. No matter how much you eat, you might not feel satisfied, even if you have a lot of food. People who binge eat often hide it and feel a lot of guilt or shame about it.


Compared to overeating, bingeing is usually caused by bigger problems, like not eating enough, dieting, or emotional eating. Solving these problems is a little harder, but it can be done. This is why bingeing feels a lot more powerful than eating too much by accident. Bingeing is our body’s way of protecting itself when it thinks it’s in danger. Such as, when we’re hungry or when we’re stressed. To stop bingeing, you have to get rid of the danger you think you’re in.

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Chapter 4:
What If You Don't Have A Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosis?

You don’t have a binge eating disorder just because you binge. Does this mean that you don’t need help for your worries about overeating or bingeing? Not even close!

Overeating makes us feel bad and isn’t good for our bodies. If you do it often, it could mean you’re not in touch with your body or you’re not meeting a need. If you binge eat, it could be because you have a bad relationship with food or because you have been dieting too much. Both of these situations mean that you need help to eat in a way that makes you feel better and lets you move on with your life.

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Chapter 5:
Take Away

Overeating is not the same as binge eating, and binge eating is not the same as a binge eating disorder. Chronic overeating or binge eating still needs care and attention to work through. There is good news if you think your eating habits aren’t healthy or your eating is causing you a lot of stress. People can control their eating habits and stop binge eating with the help of effective treatments. Get professional help! You should always treat yourself with the respect you deserve when seeking treatment and healing your relationship with food. If you enjoyed reading this article, we have some interesting self-help courses and articles on eating disorders that will help you. Go to our page and click “Courses” on the navigation bar and check out “Body Image Concerns“, and “Perfectionism” courses. You can also click “Learn” on the navigation bar and read about “Binge Eating“, “Binge Eating Disorder Treatment” and “Never Binge Again- Ways To Keep Up This Resolution”