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Does Skipping Breakfast Cause Me to Binge Eat?

I think I may have binge eating disorder, and I'm trying my best to stop it. I'm a swimmer, and I exercise a lot. I find that I'm not hungry at all in the morning, so I skip breakfast. Is that bad?
- Dani*

The people who say it's not good to skip breakfast are right. Studies show that people who miss breakfast eat more calories during the day and have higher body mass indexes. Skipping breakfast could affect your health in other ways, too. You may not have as much energy for swimming and you could find yourself feeling tired and unable to concentrate in class.

Even if you're not hungry, it's a good idea to try to eat something light in the morning to kickstart your metabolism. Eating breakfast, no matter how small, can also prevent you from feeling so hungry that you overeat later in the day. Breakfast doesn't have to be a huge meal — a cup of plain yogurt and a piece of fruit is a great way to start the day. If you can't eat first thing, grab a bag of dry cereal, a granola bar or piece of fruit to eat on the bus or sometime before classes start.

Everyone overeats occasionally. And people may sometimes go overboard and feel like they are eating uncontrollably. But binge eating disorder is sign that you might need help to get back on track with your eating. If you worry that you have a problem with binge eating, talk to a parent, doctor, school nurse, counselor, or therapist.

Signs of binge eating disorder include eating uncontrollably more than twice a week for more than 6 months, eating a lot when you are not hungry, gaining a lot of weight, and eating in secret or hiding food.

Binge eating disorder is complicated and can be linked to other problems (like depression) — but there are lots of different experts who can help people get back on track with healthy eating.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.