Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Compulsive Overeating can leave you feeling hopeless, scared and alone. BED is now the most common eating disorder in the United States and effects an estimated 3.5% of women and 2% of men. In fact, many people seeking weight loss treatments can meet clinical criteria for BED at 30-40%. The challenge with BED treatment is that anyone can be effected. People of all ages, races, income and education levels struggle with this disorder. Historically BED has been under diagnosed and under treated, but thanks to increased research and awareness, more people every day are finding help.
If you really think about it, food is widely used in our society to cope, reward, show love and connect. Many people agree that after a bad or stressful day, turning to "comfort foods" can feel soothing. Others recall that behaving well as a child granted them a lollipop at the doctor's office or a cookie at the grocery store check out. Perhaps you lived in a community where casseroles and sweet treats were delivered to neighbors welcoming a new baby or grieving a loss. In our culture today it is also common to share a meal with others to connect whether it's to conduct a business deal or catch up with old friends. If you can relate to any of these scenarios you might agree that we can become hard wired to turn to food especially when food starts to become a reliable sense of reward AND when food is used to decrease negative feelings.
Since each person is unique and no two experiences are the same, research has found that there are a many other factors that can contribute to BED such as:
-Other mental health conditions (depression, anxiety and other mood disorders)
-Unstable eating patterns (history of dieting and/or restrictive eating), -Weight fluctuations, preoccupation or negative experiences with weight
-Challenges with interpersonal relationships
-Past trauma, abuse and/or loss
-Engaging in other addictive behaviors
Treatment of BED is critical as early intervention is key. BED often has co-occuring medical conditions and people can be at a higher risk for complications, particularly if they are obese. Clients diagnosed with BED are more vulnerable to diabetes, high blood pressure & cholesterol, sleep apnea, heart disease, depression, anxiety, joint & muscle pain and gastrointestinal issues. Research has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition counseling and both individual and group therapy are clinically indicated in treatment of BED.
If you find yourself resonating with this post or sitting with questions, please call to set up an appointment. I have had extensive training in treating BED and have helped countless people conquer their shame and guilt and challenge the isolation of this disorder. This time the food doesn't have to win because you can have the tools to cope and start living on YOUR terms!