If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know how to talk about it. This is particularly true if you don’t understand their eating disorder very well, or if you don’t understand eating disorders in general. Here on our website, we offer many resources to help you to familiarize yourself with all the different eating disorders, so we would encourage you to look at this information as well. One of the questions that some people are asking is if bulimia is the same as binge eating. In this article, we’ll look at some of the similarities and differences between these two eating disorders.

Not the same

The short answer to the question is no. Bulimia is not the same as binge eating. Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are two separate eating disorders with two separate clinical definitions and different sets of symptoms. However, it’s easy to see why many people confuse them, because there is some overlap between the symptoms. Nevertheless, it’s beneficial to learn the differences between the two and not use the two terms interchangeably.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by engaging in compensatory behaviors such as purging or using laxatives to prevent weight gain.

There are two main classifications of bulimia: Purging and Non-purging. Purging means that the person uses methods such as vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics to compensate for the amount of food they have eaten. Non-purging means that the person uses methods such as excessive exercise or strict dieting and fasting to compensate for the amount of food they have eaten.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by episodes of out-of-control eating or binging on food, without the compensatory behavior of getting rid of that food afterword. Binge Eating is more than simply overeating, not choosing to eat healthy foods, or having trouble with willpower. In Binge Eating Disorder, individuals often have a lack of the chemicals that tell the brain when they’re full.

Meaning of Binging

Binging means eating an amount of food that is greater than most people would eat in a similar amount of time and feeling unable to stop or interrupt the process.


Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are both disorders filled with shame. Most individuals suffering from these disorders are secretive about their behaviors and find it difficult to stop without professional help. Both disorders can cause severe health problems.
The biggest difference between the disorders is purging. Individuals suffering from Bulimia will find a way to purge, using vomiting, laxatives, or exercise to reduce the excess calories they’ve consumed. In Binge Eating Disorder, most people do not purge.

Canopy Cove is an eating disorder treatment center that specializes in residential treatment for women and girls suffering from eating disorders, including Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder. If you or someone you love needs help or has any questions about eating disorders, contact us today. We’re here to help.