Health and Fitness

Binge Eating Disorder vs Bulimia: What Are the Differences?

With an estimated 8 million Americans battling eating disorders, there is a significant amount of misinformation and stigma surrounding these illnesses.

Many assume that all eating disorders look the same. This is an extremely harmful path to expand the conversation surrounding these illnesses. It’s also essential to ensure you can recognize the signs and symptoms to help keep an eye on loved ones.

Understanding some of the most significant differences between binge eating disorder vs. bulimia can help open up the conversation and make getting help for those affected less daunting.


You may ask yourself, “what is bulimia?” or “is there a difference between binge eating and bulimia? Bulimia Nervosa involves eating extreme amounts of food, followed by purging.

Binge eating disorder is different, as it involves feeling out of control. People with binge eating disorders don’t purge afterward. This is despite experiencing extreme feelings of guilt and shame after eating.


Identifying the signs and symptoms of these two eating disorders is crucial to help and intervene.

One of the primary signs that someone is suffering from bulimia is that they’ll consume large amounts of food. However, they will frequent the bathroom after eating to purge. Similarly, they’ll often wear baggier clothes to hide the extreme weight loss.

The main symptoms of binge eating, on the other hand, are trickier to see. Because the main sign is a large consumption of food, this is often done in private, away from the watchful eyes of others. However, extreme weight gain in a short period can be a sign.

Health Risks

There are serious health risks associated with both of these eating disorders.

Those with bulimia nervosa are likely to suffer serious health complications due to the vomiting that occurs. Because vomiting skews the electrolytes and sodium levels in the body, many will experience heart issues, muscle loss, tooth decay, and acid reflux.

Those who suffer from binge eating disorder are more likely to suffer from a decrease in quality of life and obesity. Also, gastrointestinal issues like diabetes and heart disease, and a further decline in mental illnesses such as depression are common.


Finally, the treatment for these eating disorders will focus on therapy. However, like any physical or mental illness, the counseling will vary depending on the patient.

For example, if a patient suffers from bulimia, they will attend therapy. However, sessions may look different than those with binge eating issues, depending on their previous medical history, mental health, and the severity of the illness.

Binge Eating Disorder vs. Bulimia: What You Need to Know

Though they may seem similar, understanding the differences between binge eating disorder vs. bulimia can help you find the best treatment for your needs. Remember, you’re not alone.

Did this bulimia and binge eating disorder guide help you understand the differences between the two illnesses? If so, you’ll want to check out the rest of our website. There, you’ll find more health and wellness content to help you live a healthy life.

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