Binge eating disorder (BED) is one of the most common eating disorders, with 1.25% of women and 0.42% of men diagnosed. The good news, however, is that binge eating disorder is a very treatable condition with the right recovery program, and many individuals who seek treatment for binge eating disorder do overcome it.
Should I seek binge eating disorder treatment?
While only a mental health professional can properly diagnose an eating disorder, certain signs and symptoms might clue you into whether or not you should consider talking with a therapist.
Typically, binge eating disorder is characterized by a period of eating where an individual eats past what is necessary for the body to the point of being uncomfortable. During this episode, the individual may feel a complete loss of control, and intense guilt or shame afterwards. However, no method of purging (excessive exercise, induced vomiting or laxatives) is used to compensate for the binge.
While this is commonly what a binge eating episode looks like, other signs and symptoms are also likely to present themselves, including:
- Intense focus on the body: Binge eating disorder is likely to instill deep dissatisfaction in one’s physical appearance, leading to a drop in self-esteem and continual, unhealthy focus on the body.
- Weight fluctuations: Eating large amounts of food in short amounts of time can lead to weight gain, but short-term dieting as a means of compensation can lead to weight loss. This inconsistent fluctuation can point to an eating disorder.
- Retreating from community: Because most eating disorders are riddled with feelings of shame, struggling with binge eating can lead to a withdrawal from family, friends and social life in general. The disordered eating habits associated with binging also make partaking in community meals stressful or unwanted.
- Different eating patterns: Creating a strict schedule around eating, eating randomly without defined mealtimes, eliminating certain food groups or fasting can indicate BED.
- Physical symptoms: BED is as much a physical illness as a mental health illness, so physical signs like acid reflux, stomach cramping and difficulty concentrating are likely to occur.
If you recognize these symptoms in your life, or in the life of a loved one, it’s important to consider binge eating disorder treatment as an option to get your eating patterns and physical and mental health back on the right path.
What does binge eating disorder treatment look like?
Binge eating disorder treatment’s goal is to holistically (body and mind) treat the disorder, in order to get you back to optimal physical and mental health. In other words, BED treatment seeks a full recovery.
To get to this place of recovery, you will need to seek admission to a treatment center which will accordingly assess your needed level of care. Through an assessment, they will take a look at the characteristics of binge-eating disorder in your life — how long it’s been going on, when and how it began, how it manifests in day-to-day life — as well as other mental and physical health factors.
Based on your personal needs and recovery goals, you might be recommended to enroll in either inpatient or residential treatment, a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) or Outpatient Therapy.
While each treatment program does include different daily schedules, you will participate in a number of beneficial therapies like — group and individual, cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavior, motivational interviewing and even holistic practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation.
Benefits of binge eating disorder treatment
While one of the greatest benefits of eating disorder therapy is the chance to regain control of your life and craft a healthy relationship with food and your body, BED treatment also offers:
- Nutritional education, helping you craft a healthy meal plan geared towards sustaining your body, which you can take with you post treatment;
- Healed relationships, where you can reunite with family and friends possibly alienated as a result of the disorder;
- Healthy, productive coping mechanisms that you can engage in instead of binging;
- A personalized treatment plan that doesn’t treat just the binge eating disorder, but your whole person, including any potential co-occurring disorders;
- An increase in physical health as a result of a nutritious eating plan centered around the proper amount of vitamins, minerals and protein.
It’s likely that binge eating disorder treatment will offer you a whole new lease on life, as they say, and give you both mental and physical freedom.
Is binge eating disorder treatment for you?
It might be scary, overwhelming or even embarrassing to think about treatment, but there are some things in this life we just can’t tackle on our own, and that’s okay.
If you are concerned that your eating habits reflect signs of binge eating disorder, try your best to disregard any negative emotions and recognize instead that your search for help is courageous and inspiring.