Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an often-overlooked form of disordered eating that involves the overconsumption of food. This happens when a person keeps eating past the point of feeling full. You may keep going despite an uncomfortable fullness and eat even when not hungry. Binges typically involve consuming a large amount of food in a short period followed by feelings of shame or embarrassment. Unlike disorders like Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder does not usually lead to a purge. It may involve other unhealthy responses like excessive exercise or attempting to ‘balance’ eating by consuming little or no food after a binge.
Someone with binge eating disorder may feel like they can’t stop eating—like they don’t have control over it. This distress can further exacerbate the issue, leading to more binges and more feelings of shame. If you or someone you love are struggling with binge eating or another form of disordered eating, help is available. Eating Disorder Solutions is here to provide the help and support you need to heal.
What Makes Binge Eating a Disorder?
Most people engage in binge eating behaviors without even realizing that is what they are doing. People may use food to cope with stress or for comfort on a bad day. Extreme athletes ‘carbo load’ before competitions or tests of endurance by consuming large amounts of food as fuel for strenuous activity. Holidays like Thanksgiving are a classic example of binge eating behaviors as many Americans who celebrate forego breakfast and lunch in anticipation of overeating at dinner. Does that mean everyone who participates in these behaviors has an eating disorder? Not necessarily.
One of the key hallmarks of a binge eating disorder is a sense of feeling out of control. Despite their best efforts, the binging happens repeatedly, causing great distress and feelings of shame. Binges may increase in frequency or quantity overtime to the point of causing physical discomfort or health complications. It is not a matter of having too little willpower or ‘not wanting to get better’; it is an eating disorder that requires proper behavioral health intervention.
What Are the Influences Behind Binge Eating Disorder?
Numerous influences have been associated with binge eating. Some of these include negative eating beliefs and restrictions, low self-esteem and emotional eating related to trouble handling emotions.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Eating Disorders tried to gain a more conclusive idea of the factors that contribute to this disordered type of eating. More than 700 participants were polled as part of their research. This study found evidence of a connection between binge eating and:
• Restricted eating, such as dieting
• Unhealthy beliefs regarding eating
• Low self-esteem
• Trouble regulating emotion
• Negative emotions like anxiety, stress and depression
In the study, low self-esteem was particularly significant to developing and maintaining binge eating.
How Do I Manage Binge Eating Disorder?
If you or someone you love is experiencing issues with binge eating or you feel out of control of your eating habits, help is available for you. This isn’t about being ‘weak’ or lacking willpower. Binge Eating Disorder is a recognized behavioral health condition with both physical and psychological symptoms. You are not alone and recovery is always possible.
Treatment for BED is multifaceted, addressing both the behaviors associated with the disorder and the underlying causes. Treatment includes evidence-based therapy modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on how thoughts and feelings relate to behaviors, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which focuses on emotional reactions. Both of these therapies offer greater insight into the why behind your disordered eating behaviors with actionable ways to interrupt the cycle.
The specifications of a Binge Eating Disorder program will vary based on your own needs and goals. Typically, treatment involves both group and individual therapy as well as nutrition and meal support provided by a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. Because eating disorders are tied closely to our mental wellness, co-occurring treatment for any existent mental health disorders is also vital for success.
How Can I Help Someone Who Has Binge Eating Disorder?
If you suspect a friend or family member may have a Binge Eating Disorder, remember that this problem is not easy to control and is not a question of willpower. Approaching the issue with compassion and understanding is the best way to help them recognize if there is a problem and get the help they need.
Even if you mean well, reacting from a place of judgement or ridicule will not help your loved one overcome their struggle. It is likely they are already experiencing shame or self-image issues, so adding more negative input does more harm than good. Likewise, offering ideas of diets and weight loss programs may only make matters worse.
You might not know how to approach the situation, but what you do know is that the person you love needs help. What can you do? The best thing you can do is offer your support and encourage them to seek professional help. Eating disorder recovery experts are more equipped to identify the problem and help your loved one recover.
Remember, it is not your job to have all the right answers or solve your loved one’s problems. They must embark on this personal journey for recovery; you can’t do it for them. However, having people at their side to love and support them through all the difficulties of eating disorder recovery goes a long way to encourage perseverance.
Treatment Can Help
As a mental health disorder, binge eating disorder is hard to manage on your own, and loved ones may not fully understand or know how to help. This is where professional support comes in.
Eating Disorders Solutions in Dallas, Texas offers comprehensive, person-first eating disorder recovery programs. Our team of compassionate and dedicated recovery specialists have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you achieve your recovery goals. We experts at providing quality care for dual diagnosis clients and those who may have relapsed on their recovery journey. By treating the whole person and not just the symptoms, we help our clients get to the root of their disorders and take back control of their lives.
For more information about how we can help you, call Eating Disorders Solutions today at 855-808-4213.