You have probably seen it all over social media:
“Beat binge eating with my 10 day binge busting program!”
“Banish those food cravings with these three simple steps!”
“Stop emotional eating NOW and FOREVER with this single technique!”
“Look just like me, drop 100 pounds, and be bikini ready in 30 days!”
Ok, maybe not exactly that last statement, but it is not far from those sponsored ads you see everywhere. Obviously all those “life coaches” and “gurus” are on to something: binge eating is a serious issue, it is causing us a lot of pain, and we are desperate to get it under control. So let’s talk a little about what binge eating actually is.
First, let’s talk about what binge eating is not. Binge eating disorder is not eating “weird stuff” in the middle of the night–eating jars of mayonnaise in a trance at 3 am, eating the entire contents of the refrigerator regardless of health/safety concerns–I’m not sure where this belief came from–but that falls under sleep eating disorder. It is not binging on certain foods, and then making yourself throw up, exercise excessively to compensate, or take laxatives–that is bulimia. Binge eating disorder is not overeating once a year on Thanksgiving or overeating at the buffet while you were on that inclusive cruise.
So, what actually is it? Binge eating disorder is a real eating disorder. It is recognized in the American Psychological Association book, the DSM-5, as a specific eating disorder. Some studies show that up to 3 million people in the USA have binge eating disorder, making it three times more prevalent than anorexia and bulimia combined. The DSM-5 lists the following criteria:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
- eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
- a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
- The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- eating much more rapidly than normal
- eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
- eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
- feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
- Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (for example, purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.
So now that you know what binge eating disorder is, what can you do about it? One study shows that 30% of people looking for weight loss treatments exhibit symptoms of binge eating disorder. Diets are not the answer, and neither are those 7 day or 10 day quick fixes. Binge eating disorder requires a comprehensive treatment plan that is personalized for YOU and your needs. Binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness, and it should be treated as such. Individual counseling, psychiatry, medical care, and group therapy–all from providers who are licensed and well educated in treating binge eating disorder–ensures the greatest chances of recovery. Recovery is not achieved in a week, a month, or even a year. Recovery is an ongoing process, and I’m ready to take this journey with you.
Services provided to treat binge eating disorder will include mental health treatment that addresses underlying causes of overeating, emotional eating, and binge eating. I utilize Dialectical Behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, intuitive/mindful eating training, trauma work, as well as referrals to additional providers (medical doctors, psychiatrists, dietitians, personal trainers.) I will also provide evaluations for more intense eating disorder treatment if needed.
If you are interested in a comprehensive treatment program for binge eating disorder and food addiction, check out my Lifestyle Transformation group program.