ADHD & Binge Eating

Binge-Eating and Everything That Relates to ADHD

Binge Eating Disorder is a fairly common comorbid condition with ADHD. What’s the connection between them, and more importantly, how can they be managed? Find out here. 

Published on
Updated on
estimated reading time

Reviewed by


The mini Adhd coach
In this Article
Could it be ADHD? The Self-Assessment Workbook by The Mini ADHD Coach.
Start your ADHD diagnosis journey!

Visualize and assess 25 ADHD traits and understand how they affect your life.

Learn more

What is the Correlation between ADHD & Binge Eating?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is more than just episodes of rapid consumption of a large amount of food in a short period 🥐 🥓 🥗. It also points to losing control during the binge, feeling shame or guilt afterwards, and the possibility of having unhealthy compensatory measures, such as purging. Many people tend to be affected by this eating disorder for different reasons. According to research in the United States, Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder.

ADHD & Binge Eating: Most common eating disorder in the US

Binge Eating Disorder has seen a rapid increase in cases, primarily affecting women 👭. Although BED can happen at any age, it’s more common in late teens or early twenties. 

One of the most concerning things about this eating disorder is that many people with binge-eating tendencies often suffer in silence 🤐. Moreover, they may have struggles finding support and professional help.

ADHD & Binge Eating: Characterization

We have compiled all associated symptoms to spread awareness regarding disordered eating and understand those wondering if they might have Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms and Signs

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, Binge Eating Disorder may be characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Recurrent episodes of eating an excessive amount of food in a short period 🥗 🍦 🌭.
  • Consuming more than what is necessary to feel full or satisfied to the point of discomfort.
  • Having a recurring feeling of loss of control while eating.
  • Feeling guilty and shameful after eating binges.
ADHD & Binge Eating: People who binge eat

There are other signs of binge eating disorder, such as repeated failures attempting to cut on a diet, frequent consumption of high-calorie diets, and even self-disgust or self-hate 😢. Poor self-esteem can also be observed in individuals with this disorder.

People who experience Binge Eating Disorder sometimes lack impulse control and response inhibition with food. They tend to have continual thoughts of eating 💭, which can cause them to act out of impulse and consume large portions.

More on Eating Disorders and Binge Eating

Binge Eating is only one of the many eating disorders that a person can experience. Besides BED, there are also others, like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and rumination syndrome. According to research, genetics, personality traits, and even brain structure 🧠 differences contribute to our struggles with a healthy eating plan. Of course, experts do not discount our life experiences. 

ADHD: Bulimia, Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating

There can be a significant association between impulsive behaviors affecting how we act around food. Some people may get easily distracted when presented with a variety of food, struggle with following a meal plan, inability to control the right portion size, or even decrease food intake when already full. A person's self-control can sometimes be tested, especially when other comorbid conditions aside from Binge Eating Disorder, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Visualize your ADHD traits!

Take our fun online quiz to visualize your ADHD traits and learn more about your brain!


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Eating Disorders

We have an entire article related to Eating disorders that you may want to check here.

According to research, people struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be prone to experience eating disorders. First, the neurobehavioral circuits that people with ADHD and eating disorders have are somewhat similar. 

Also, their response inhibition or emotional processing about food can be affected by their executive function, which is often impaired in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The link ⛓️ between ADHD and having struggles with eating doesn't stop there. Impulsive eating can also be shared due to a lack of impulse control. Increased food intake is most likely because we cannot accurately observe our body's hunger cues, which can lead to overeating.

For bulimia and anorexia nervosa, we become too conscious of our food intake and what we eat. We often become too self-critical, which can lead us to impose unrealistic standards of beauty and ideal body weight . It's possible that some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder tend to have struggled with these for a long time, as we might be frequently judged by those who see us differently 😞. There may be times when continual thoughts of food and eating become more intense than usual due to this inability to control our emotions.

Acute Binge Eating Disorder and ADHD

According to research from Duke University, 30% of people with Acute Binge Eating Disorder also struggle with ADHD. Likewise, a handful of cases of people with ADHD diagnosis tend to experience difficulties in managing food intake and controlling their urge to eat. ADHD and binge eating disorder can go hand in hand, and it is essential to identify the signs early on 👌.

ADHD & Binge Eating: Adult percentage

To have an effective treatment for binge eating disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it is necessary to have a systematic review of what are the most probable causes of experiencing both conditions. From there, we can formulate the first line of treatment we need to do and how we can control the urge to overeat and be mindful of our food intake.

The Brain's Reward System

Healthcare professionals link ADHD and Binge Eating through our brain's overlapping neurobehavioral circuits. Neuroimaging 🧠 research shows that the struggle with disordered eating, specifically Binge Eating Disorder and ADHD, produce the same reward system. The same reward system makes us overindulge in food and give in to our desires with little thought or control.

ADHD & Binge Eating: Greater response in the Brain's Reward System

Impulsive ADHD Symptoms

Another reason ADHD and Binge Eating Disorder are potentially connected can be due to the impulsive symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many people with ADHD are often characterized as having difficulty regulating their emotions and behavior, leading them to make decisions without thinking ahead or considering all options. This impulsivity can lead to uncontrolled eating and missing internal cues to recognize that we are already full.

How to Manage ADHD Symptoms and Binge Eating Disorder?

Sometimes, having all the information is all that it takes to address the situation. When it comes to managing symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Binge Eating Disorder, being aware is the best way to start implementing treatment 👍.

The goal of any treatment plan should be creating a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes self-care and understanding of your needs. Poor awareness and understanding of our emotions can lead to overeating and weight problems, so understanding what triggers us emotionally is critical. Eating healthy can also help control overeating and provide the nutrition our bodies need.

Lastly, seeking professional support 🧑‍⚕️ from a therapist or psychologist is another effective way to manage symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Binge Eating Disorder. Talk therapy can be done in sessions to understand the underlying problems and triggers for binging. By exploring these issues, we can create effective strategies to help us gain better control of food intake and manage our emotions.

With the proper support and understanding, it is possible to manage both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Binge Eating Disorder simultaneously. We can foster better relationships with food and ourselves with small steps taken each day 💗.

ADHD & Binge Eating Struggles and do not forget to ask for help

ADHD & Binge Eating FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder where a person has frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food, usually in a short period, to the point of discomfort. It may also be accompanied by unhealthy compensatory measures, such as purging, and negative feelings, such as guilt and shame.

Is Binge Eating related to ADHD?

There’s a connection between the two conditions. Experts point out somewhat similar neurological pathways and reward systems, as well as a connection in lack of impulse control. Also, there’s the fact that many people with ADHD also have Binge Eating Disorder.

How do you manage Binge Eating when you have ADHD?

Working closely with a mental health professional is a must. Remember that Binge Eating Disorder can be severe and life-threatening, so medical intervention is necessary - be it in the form of therapy or medicines. Of course, a support system will also be a great help.

Share this article on Social Media

Help us raise awareness around ADHD, let's spread ADHD love and support to all that need it.

If you liked this article you are going to like these ones:

Check out more content about similar topics: