Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is the loss of control while eating. Discover the causes, symptoms and our highly specialised treatment model at Schoen Clinic Chelsea.


Binge Eating Disorder is the presence of recurrent bingeing episodes with no associated compensatory behaviours. Binge Eating Disorder can be caused by a range of reasons, including stressful life events, genetic disposition, and upbringing.

Treatment is predominately psychological therapy, usually specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which could be delivered individually, as a group, or as guided self-help.

Causes & Symptoms

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

As with other eating disorders, there is no one definitive cause of Binge Eating Disorder. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Genetic vulnerability, illustrated by family history or Binge Eating Disorders, or other eating, mental health, or substance misuse disorders.
  • Biological irregularities, such as hormonal abnormalities or genetic mutations.
  • Experience of judgemental comments about one’s body, weight, or eating behaviours.
  • Body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and difficulty coping with feelings.
  • Depression.
  • Experience of trauma, including abuse.
  • Experience of an emotionally invalidating environment (leading to distrust of one’s own emotions).


Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

Binge Eating Disorder is the experience of reoccurring episodes of binge eating with an associated loss of control. Binge eating is defined as: eating in a discrete period of time (e.g. within two hours) a significantly large amount of food than what would be typical to eat in a similar circumstance. This is associated with a feeling of loss of control over eating in this period (e.g. feeling like they cannot stop what or how much they are eating).

These binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:

  • Eating more rapidly than usual.
  • Eating until uncomfortably full.
  • Eating large amounts of food despite not physically feeling hungry.
  • Feeling disgusted at oneself, depressed or highly guilty following the episode.
  • Eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment around how much one is eating.

In Binge Eating Disorder, binge eating occurs on average at least once a week for three months, and this is accompanied by marked distress. It is not associated with any compensatory behaviours in order to control one’s weight and shape. Binge Eating Disorder occurs in people who are normal-weight, overweight and obese. Binge Eating Disorder is distinct from obesity.

Other associated symptoms include:

  • Negative mood, interpersonal stressors and negative judgements surrounding weight, shape, and food triggering bingeing.
  • Using food as a coping mechanism.
  • Seeing food as the only solution to difficulties.
  • Hoarding of food (to eat secretly at a later time).
  • Lack of sensation or feelings of numbness during binges.
  • Feeling of loss of control during binges.
  • Never feeling satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed.
  • Physical symptoms associated with a high body weight (e.g. Cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Muscle and/or joint pain, Gastrointestinal difficulties).
  • Sleeping difficulties (e.g. insomnia or sleep apnoea).
  • Depression and/or anxiety.


Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

If you are worrying that a friend or loved one is experiencing Binge Eating Disorder, there are signs you can look out for. These do not guarantee your loved one has Binge Eating Disorder, but can be indicative:

  • Eating a lot of food very quickly.
  • Trying to hide how much they are eating.
  • Storing up supplies of food.
  • Gaining weight – though this doesn't happen to everyone with binge eating disorder.

If you feel these may apply to your friend or loved one, it is always best to talk to them about it in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental manner and support and encourage them in getting the help that they need, making sure you are there for them emotionally throughout their journey to recovery. Try to educate yourself about eating disorders before approaching the topic with your loved one to understand better what they may be going through. Talk somewhere private and comfortable, at a time of low distress (i.e. not directly before or after a meal).

Don’t wait too long to approach the subject with them, as the earlier they get help, the better their chances of recovery. However, you must aim to not be too pushy with how you say this, as saying something along the lines of “you need to get help now” can feel harsh and blunt. Aim for something softer but still motivational, such as “I’ll be here to support you in going to get help when you’re ready to do so”.


The treatments and support we provide

We provide a very comprehensive and holistic range of interventions and support. This means we are able to find the mechanisms for recovery, which will be different for each patient. Everyone will have a highly personalised treatment programme. 

The programme is reviewed every week by the patient’s multi-disciplinary team (MDT), encompassing the different professionals involved in their care. Our MDT consists of: consultant psychiatrist, psychotherapist/psychologist, family therapist, occupational therapist, dietician. The MDT is at the centre of our approach, ensuring all the progress made across the programme is understood, built upon and applied. Our model provides consistency and continuity. 

Individual programmes are tailor-made to each patient’s needs and progress. The following provides a guide to the typical building blocks of our day treatment programmes, all of which include a number of weekly 1:1 sessions with members of the MDT.

  Full-day Programme Half-day Programme
Days Monday to Friday Monday to Friday
Hours 8 hours per day 4 - 5 hours per day
Programme Length Up to 6 weeks Up to 6 weeks
Detail group therapy 5 - 6 sessions  3 - 4 sessions
Daily meals
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Snack
  • Dinner
  • Snacks

We provide the following therapies and interventions. These may be delivered on a 1:1 or group basis by members of the MDT.


Psycho-education Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) Mindfulness
Relapse prevention Self-esteem / resilience Movement
Body Image  (Over-) Exercising  Food preparation / cooking
Applied relaxation Art / drama Interpersonal therapy
Social issues Family therapy Maudsley Anorexia Treatment for Adults (Mantra)

Treatments are available at the following locations

Schoen Clinic Chelsea

Our Address
Schoen Clinic
Centre for Mental Health Chelsea
13a Radnor Walk
London SW3 4BP
General Telephone Enquiries
0203 146 2300
Specialist Areas
Anorexia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) +7 More


Dr Helen Murphy

Consultant Psychiatrist BA (Oxon) BM BCh MRCPsych

Anorexia Nervosa
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
6 More ...
Anorexia Nervosa
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Bulimia Nervosa
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED) 4 More ...
Full Profile
Ms Gabriele Malinauskaite

Psychodynamic Psychotherapist MA

Eating disorders
Anorexia Nervosa
18 More ...
Eating disorders
Anorexia Nervosa
Binge Eating Disorder
16 More ...
Full Profile
Ms Jessica Hoskins

Assistant Psychologist BSc (Hons) Psychology

Eating disorders
Bulimia Nervosa
10 More ...
Eating disorders
Bulimia Nervosa
Binge Eating Disorder
OSFED (Purging Disorder)
8 More ...
Full Profile
Ms Alexia Dempsey

Specialist Dietician BSc RD

Binge Eating Disorder Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) 2 More ...
Binge Eating Disorder Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) Bulimia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa
Full Profile
Ms Debra Batten


Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa 1 More ...
Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Anorexia Nervosa
Full Profile
Ms Laurel Playford

Chartered Counselling Psychologist

Personality Disorders
Mood disorders
12 More ...
Personality Disorders
Mood disorders
10 More ...
Full Profile
Depression 4 More ...
Depression Binge Eating Disorder Anorexia Nervosa 2 More ...
Full Profile
Ms Arlene Gray

Occupational Therapist

Anorexia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder 3 More ...
Anorexia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Depression 1 More ...
Full Profile
Dr Pippa Hembry

Clinical Psychologist CPsychol

Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa 9 More ...
Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) Anorexia Nervosa 7 More ...
Full Profile