I have been focusing on writing about emotional eating lately without including the distinction of the binge eating disorder. I have done both, and in my opinion, binging is more destructive.
When I have been writing about emotional eating, in my mind I have been remembering my experiences of what are technically both emotional and binge eating. One does not necessarily lead to the other even though they both have the same source. So what is the difference between a binge eater and an emotional eater?
The definition of an emotional eater is one who does not necessarily eat until full, but who does seek out food for comfort. Emotional eaters eat because they feel poorly about themselves or a situation, all of which springs from their thoughts. When they have negative thoughts, they seek out food. It is entirely possible that emotional eaters are not overweight, and we know that there are eating disorders that do not always result in overweight. It is more than likely that emotional eaters will eat based on their emotions rather than on physical hunger.
On the other hand, binge eaters eat beyond their level of comfort. Binge eating begins as emotional eating, although goes a step further. While emotional eaters may eat only for comfort and not to achieve fullness, binge eaters have a compulsion to keep going until they are literally bursting at the seams. Binging can be defined as “a habit of consuming more food than normal in a limited period of time”. It is characterized by a feeling of being out of control, leading to feelings of self-recrimination, shame, anger with oneself, depression, and guilt. All of these feelings create a cycle of more emotional eating and/or binging.
I always used to feel grateful that I was not an alcoholic, however eating disorders are just as destructive and can be deadly. It is also a fallacy that only those who fall into the extreme of either overweight or anorexia (and/or bulimia) have eating disorders. There are plenty of people who are neither overweight nor underweight who still have eating disorders. If your relationship with food is skewed and you abuse it (you eat other than for reasons of physical hunger and to fuel your body), then you have an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you would like more information, please see this site where I obtained the above definitions. Additionally, I would recommend checking out the Centre for Emotional Well Being, and Change Therapy. These links point to a post on emotional eating and binge eating respectively.