Connecting Food Addiction and Binge Eating

The question that often arises when working with patients, is whether food addiction and binge eating are the same thing? Food addiction involves engaging repeatedly in episodes of binge eating regardless of adverse consequences, while in aggressive pursuit of a mood change. This compulsion is an irresistible impulse to eat a specific food(s), especially in an irrational state or contrary to one’s will. The urge is about ingesting this food no matter what.

Binge eating is eating a large amount of food in a small period of time regardless of the consequences. In my experience, as a certified eating disorder specialist and as a recovering food addict, binge eating and food addiction go hand in hand.

The Compulsion is always present in the disease of addiction, whether it is cocaine, vodka, or a chocolate bar. My research has led me to know the food addict has a metabolic, biochemical imbalance, which results in the characteristic symptoms of addiction. The foodaholic is obsessed with food (usually sugary, high fat, starchy foods) ingesting large quantities of these foods to destructive and/or negative consequences physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally.

Given the definition of binge eating and food addiction, it is apparent they are intertwined in most cases. Could a person binge eat and not be a food addict? There are many eating disorder specialists that would agree one can binge eat without having a food addiction; however, an active food addict always binge eats.

Dr. Lisa

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