- Do you feel out of control around certain types of food?
- Do you feel like you eat until you get physically sick in response to certain emotions?
- When your eating feels out of control are you also finding that you’re eating much more rapidly than normal?
- Do you sometimes eat alone out of embarrassment? Do you feel depressed or guilty after eating large amounts of food?
You may be suffering from binge eating disorder. Clients often use the following terms to describe binge eating disorder: food addiction, compulsive overeating, loss of control eating.
Who is affected by Binge Eating Disorder?
- Binge eating disorder is the most common form of an eating disorder diagnosed in the United States. It’s 3 times more common than bulimia or anorexia. Approximately 3.5 % of women and 2% of men in the United States will develop binge eating disorder in their lifetime.
- Adolescents are often affected by binge eating disorder as well starting anywhere from 12 – 14 years old. A study by Stice, Presnell, & Sprangler (2002) found that body image concerns, depression symptoms, appearance-oriented emphasis on self evaluation, dieting, and feeling pressure to be thin often predicted the onset of binge eating. There are adolescents who develop a loss of control of eating even before dieting begins. These adolescents often develop binge eating disorder at an earlier age.
Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder
Clients struggling with binge eating or compulsive overeating will benefit from an evidence-based treatment approach. Below are approaches we take to help those with binge eating disorder:
- Working with a team. Most of our clients make the most progress with binge eating disorder treatment when working with our nutritionist and a psychologist on staff. To maximize efforts, the eating disorder dietitian/nutritionist works with the client to normalize their eating patterns (see below) and the eating disorder therapist will work to target the underlying psychological triggers for binge eating episodes.
- Normalizing eating patterns. Many people struggling with binge eating disorder go very long periods of time without eating or are highly restrictive and have a long history of chronic dieting. In working with our eating disorder nutritionists, clients begin binge eating treatment by practicing eating something every 3-4 hours.
- Targeting chronic dieting and all-or-nothing thinking around food. Part of the work with our registered dietitian nutritionists is targeting long held beliefs about “good” and “bad” foods. Often creating strict rules around food can create all-or-nothing patterns of thinking and behavior. When breaking a rule, a client can feel extremely guilty or upset which can often lead to binge eating. The cycle of restricting and then binge eating can continue for a long time to come. Instead, we’ll help you gain skills to be able to eat all foods in moderation.
- Manage emotional and life stressors that trigger binge eating. Clients struggle with binge eating disorder typically are not reaching for celery sticks and carrot sticks when they have an urge to binge. Typically the food is high in refined carbs and sugar. These types of food tend to light up the reward centers of our brain. It makes sense if you were feeling upset, stressed, lonely, etc. that you’d want to find an escape from feeling those painful emotions. An easy, reliable way to do that can become food. Our psychologists use a variety of psychological interventions to help our clients become mindful of their emotions and observe them without judgement. We help them build distress tolerance in being able to sit with their emotions without feeling the need to run from them or suppress them. Food, then, becomes less of a tempting option to escape emotions.
Obesity, Overweight, & Medical Complications of Binge Eating Disorder
Approximately 25% of those suffering from obesity report binge eating. Binge eating disorder complications are similar to medical complications associated with obesity:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Type II diabetes
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Edema (swelling)
Weight loss + Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Because we don’t believe in fad diets and because chronic dieting often results in binge eating in the first place, we have to work with our clients in helping them change their relationship with food and their body such that their body gets to the place it’s naturally intended to be at. Instead of talking to you about what to cut out of your diet so that you can begin losing weight, we will talk to you about becoming more mindful and keeping track of how much you’re eating, what you’re eating, and how you’re feeling physically after. With mindfulness, you’ll begin to learn what your body wants you to be eating more of and less of or what quantity of certain foods it can tolerate. Sound complicated? It can be. That’s why we encourage finding the right balance and harmony with your body working with our registered dietitian nutritionists and psychologists.