Binge eating

Binge eating is an eating disorder which makes people feel the need to eat too much food in one go. This can happen because of feelings that are difficult to cope with. If it’s something you’re experiencing, we can help you. 

What are the signs of binge eating?

Most of us eat too much sometimes. But binge eating is different. It’s often a way to deal with difficult emotions. Or it could happen when people are really stressed out about something.

Signs of binge eating can include:

  • eating a lot really quickly
  • eating on your own, in-between meals
  • eating a lot of food to help you deal with something painful, like stress, isolation or someone close to you dying
  • eating in secret
  • feeling guilty after eating a lot
  • feeling out of control when you eat
  • eating until you're full and then carrying on until you feel sick or bloated.

Things to remember: 

  • binge eating is also sometimes called 'compulsive overeating'
  • binge eating affects both boys and girls
  • people who binge eat often eat a lot of food very quickly, even if they aren’t hungry
  • there may also be times when they don't eat much at all
  • sometimes people don’t feel in control of their eating
  • it can happen because of difficult thoughts or feelings
  • if you feel your eating is out of control, it's okay to ask for help.



If you feel that your eating is out of control, it can help to ask yourself what made you start. If there's something stressful or upsetting in your life (like family relationships or pressure at school) then it might be a good idea to get some support. You could do this by asking an adult you trust for help or by talking to a Childline counsellor or to the charity Beat Eating Disorders. If you prefer you can talk to other young people who may have had similar experiences to you on our message board.

Seeing a doctor
Each situation is different, but if you visit a doctor, they could help you make a food plan or talk about you possibly going to a therapy group. These things can help you control the feeling of wanting to binge.

Keep a food diary
Write down every time you eat, including when you binge. This can help you see if there are certain times when you want to binge. You can sign up to the locker to use our mood journal. It’s a great way to track your mood over a period of time.

Don’t have a ‘no’ list
This is a list of food you won’t let yourself eat. Doing this can make you want to eat those types of food even more. The urge can build and build until you end up eating lots at once. So it’s better to let yourself have a little bit of that type of food every now and then.

Recovering from an eating disorder

How much is healthy to eat?

There's no normal amount to eat. What is healthy for you depends on your:

  • age
  • how much you exercise
  • your metabolism.

Eating healthily means making sure your diet is balanced – this is all about eating different types of food. Find out more about staying healthy.

If you’re unsure about how much you’re eating or want some advice, you can talk to a doctor for help and support.

Helping a friend who binge eats

It's often hard to support someone who binge eats. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed. It could be hard for them to talk about it. They may need some time before they can talk about things.

Let your friend know you’re there for them. It could really help them to have someone to talk to when they feel alone or need a distraction. Help them stay social and active.

You could also do little things that make them feel better about themselves. Even if it's just sometimes sending them a positive message. All of this can help them eventually have more control over food. 

Other sites we recommend: 

  • Beat has lots of support for young people experiencing eating problems, including a helpline
  • YoungMinds has more advice to help with eating disorders