Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Food is a complex subject, and so is our connection to it.
How we relate to food depends on different biogenetic, psychological, and environmental factors unique to each individual.
Some people don’t seem to worry about what they eat or how often. Some seem to have it all “under control.” And some, despite their best efforts, experience a complete loss of control with food.
Everyone splurges every once and a while – that’s normal. But what few people realize is that extreme splurging and loss of control while eating (also called binging) is actually caused by an easily missed eating disorder.
If you or a loved one struggle with binge eating, let us help.
Eating disorders are mental health illnesses consisting of persistent and dysfunctional eating behaviors. These harmful actions can hinder your physical and emotional health, as well as your ability to work, study, socialize, and perform daily activities.
One of the most prevalent clinical eating disorders in the U.S. is binge eating disorder (also known as BED). BED refers to the regular consumption of large quantities of food within a short period of time and without a sense of control.
BED is not a personal choice, nor something to dismiss, thinking it can “go away.” On the contrary, this illness can cause damaging medical complications, other mental health problems and even threaten your life.
If you or someone in you care about is battling with BED, please understand recovery is possible. And the sooner treatment begins, the sooner you can resume your path.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder or BED consists of persistent episodes of binge eating that cause distress. Contrary to occasional overeating, these bingeing incidents are frequent behaviors that happen at least once a week for three months or more.
When suffering from BED, you may eat even when you are not hungry and continue to ingest food past fullness. While binge eating, you may feel a loss of control over your actions and feel guilt and shame after the fact.
Yet, unlike bulimia nervosa, BED does not involve compensatory behaviors post-binge, such as vomiting, diuretics, laxatives, or compulsive exercising.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
- Fluctuations or drastic changes in body weight
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Gastrointestinal problems (e.g., acid reflux, constipation, ulcers)
- Food disappearing
- Empty wrappers or containers in strange spots
- Stealing, hoarding, or hiding food around you
- Eating alone or avoiding eating with other people
- Scheduling time for binge eating
- Frequent and secret binge eating episodes
- Cutting out food groups (e.g., no carbs, no fats)
- Other disruptive eating behaviors (e.g., skipping meals, fasting, dieting)
- Constant worry or anxiety about food
- Guilt, disgust, and shame about eating
- Low self-esteem and concerns about body image
Suppose you exhibit these signs of BED but not as frequently. In that case, you may be experiencing Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (also known as OSFED) or disordered eating behaviors. These symptoms are still disabling but may not fit the exact criteria of BED. The complexity and nuances involved with eating disturbances make it paramount to get a proper diagnosis.
We realize asking for help is not easy, especially with the weight stigma around BED and other eating disorders. You might think you are ok and that “everything is fine” if you are not underweight or obese.
Still, you don’t have to suffer in silence. We are here to support you.
How Is Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosed?
To get a precise diagnosis, talk to your physician, a registered dietitian, or licensed mental health professional.
During an eating disorder assessment, a health professional will ask you questions, gather your history and eating habits, and perform evaluations to see if your symptoms match specific diagnostic criteria.
To fit the diagnostic criteria for a binge eating disorder, you must experience:
- Recurring binge eating episodes: Intake of unusually large amounts of food in a short time frame. The food quantity is considerably larger than what most people would eat during a similar period. These binge eating episodes must include three or more of the following characteristics:
- Eating way too quickly
- Eating regardless of whether you feel hungry or not
- Eating until feeling painfully full
- Eating alone out of embarrassment or shame
- Feeling disgusted, guilty, or depressed about the episode
- Loss of control: Inability to control what and how much you are eating or when to stop food consumption during the episode.
These binge eating events occur at least once a week for three months but are not followed by compensatory actions.
Binge Eating Disorder Statistics
According to research listed by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA):
- BED is more than three times more common than anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa combined.
- About 40% of people suffering from BED are male.
- Three out of 10 people seeking weight-loss initiatives exhibit signs of BED.
- 24.8% of those with BED have also struggled with substance use.
- In overweight and obese adults, those who suffer weight stigma may be at risk for eating disorder symptoms and are more likely to be diagnosed with BED.
- Approximately 43% of people with BED will access treatment at some point in their lives.
Binge Eating Disorder Health Risks
Binge eating disorder may be associated with various health side effects, including:
- Overweight or obesity: Given the high caloric intake in binge eating episodes, BED may cause weight gain and raise the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
- Medical complications: Having overweight or obesity as a consequence of BED may, in turn, raise the risk of other medical problems (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke).
- Psychological and emotional challenges: People with BED may experience deep shame, anxiety, and sadness right after a binge eating episode. With time, these feelings may escalate to depression, unhealthy anger, and other mental health problems.
- Social and interpersonal issues: Those with BED may end up isolating themselves from friends and loved ones, impacting their relationships and intensifying feelings of loneliness.
Other consequences of BED may include school, work, career, or financial difficulties, as eating behaviors can trickle down to many areas of your life.
Who Can Benefit From Binge Eating Disorder Treatment?
BED can affect people of any age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, cultural values, or body size.
Weight is not a reliable indicator of an eating disorder. Those with BED may have an average weight, be overweight, or obese.
BED is common in adolescents and young adults, typically starting in the late teens or early 20s. Yet, it can also impact children, middle-aged and older adults.
BED may be linked to a variety of genetic, physical, psychological, and environmental variables. Some of the common risk factors involved in BED and other eating disorders include:
- Suffering a traumatic event (e.g., accident, loss, abuse)
- Experiencing a significant life change (e.g., breakup, having kids, moving)
- Following extreme diets or periods of food deprivation
- Battling with body image and self-esteem
- Struggling with weight stigma or bullying about body size
- Having a personal or family history of other eating disturbances or mental health illness
Any individual going through BED can benefit from treatment to recover.
How Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Works
BED treatment aims to reduce binge eating episodes and shift dysfunctional habits. Since BED symptoms involve a combination of physical, emotional, and behavioral markers, recovery may entail the collaboration of various specialties.
Binge eating disorder treatment will help you:
- Take care of any pressing medical concerns related to BED (e.g., gastrointestinal issues, pain)
- Rebalance nutrition, metabolism, and weight levels
- Pinpoint negative thoughts and beliefs related to food, weight, or body image
- Change maladaptive eating behaviors
- Learn about healthy nutrition, eating, and feeding habits
Binge eating disorder treatment may encompass the following steps:
1. Diagnosis and Plan
First, you will visit your primary care physician or a licensed therapist to get an assessment. Once a specialist confirms your diagnosis, they will help you prepare a tailored plan for your recovery.
Treatment may vary depending on your particular condition, the severity of your symptoms, and your wellness goals. It might require a multidisciplinary approach, combining medical care, psychiatry, psychotherapy, medication, nutritional guidance, and education. This process may call for individual or group sessions, as well as self-help efforts.
Psychotherapy, counseling, or talk therapy, can be beneficial to change unhealthy eating behaviors and address the emotional distress that comes with BED. Some of the therapeutic modalities that can help treat BED include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT can help you explore the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and problematic behaviors associated with food. A CBT therapist can support you to identify where these negative emotions may be coming from and what patterns have developed around them as a result. The objective is to gain insight into your symptoms and triggers and learn coping strategies to adopt healthier eating habits.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT focuses on addressing the emotional reactions to stressful or negative experiences leading to binge eating behaviors. DBT leverages emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness skills to help you manage the emotions tied to BED.
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): IPT targets relationship stressors among family, friends, colleagues, and partners. The goal is to improve your social skills to address the interpersonal challenges contributing to binge eating episodes.
Weight-loss programs may not be as effective right away as they may trigger binge eating episodes. However, they can be done in time under medical supervision and in conjunction with counseling.
Once treatment is underway, the health professionals involved will check in to track your progress and make adjustments as necessary. This step could translate into regular checkups and therapy sessions. The goal is to customize treatment to your needs to ensure active and sustainable healing.
It’s important to remember that healing may not always be a linear process. It’s quite normal to hit bumps in the road or feel like recovery is taking longer than expected. Be patient and lean on your support system. Reach out to your loved ones, relatives, friends, doctor, and therapist if you face any challenges while in treatment.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment and Therapists
Given the severity of BED and its mental health implications, it’s crucial to seek a licensed therapist or psychologist for treatment—particularly someone specializing in eating disorders or disturbances in food behaviors.
Health professionals with experience in eating disorder symptoms carry the knowledge and training to perform a thorough assessment, provide an accurate diagnosis, and prepare a personalized treatment plan. They can also offer evidence-based recommendations and coping strategies to navigate BED and reach a full recovery.
Above all, it’s vital to choose an eating disorder specialist you feel comfortable with for a successful relationship.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Madison Park Psychological Services
Here at Madison Park Psychological Services, we offer testing and therapy for binge eating disorder in a safe and warm environment. Our mission is to take care of teens, adults, and families in the NYC community so they can live a joyful and fulfilling life.
Our staff of licensed psychotherapists has extensive experience with eating disorder symptoms and multiple therapeutic approaches. We employ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), among other modalities, to provide a tailored service for BED treatment.
We are more than happy to work with other physicians and health professionals to ensure you access a comprehensive treatment for BED and obtain long-lasting results.
Your healing journey starts with a consultation, where we will ask questions about your symptoms and goals and explain how our process works. Getting to know you will help us connect you with the best therapist for your unique story and needs.
Next, we will assess if your symptoms match the BED or any other eating disorder criteria and design an action plan. Treatment may include individual or group therapy sessions, approximately once a week, depending upon your specific case.
Our therapy services are provided in-person and online via teletherapy.
Book Your Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Today
If you, your teen, partner, or loved one are struggling with a binge eating disorder, do not wait any longer.
Healing is possible. We will help you get there!
The earlier we intervene, the sooner you will start feeling better and regain control of your eating behaviors.
To get started, call us at 212-506-5935 or book an appointment today.
We look forward to hearing from you!
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