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What Is a Binge Eating Disorder?
It can be scary to watch someone you love struggle with a Binge Eating Disorder, but there are many resources to inform you and to support them once they are ready to access help. Finding mental health treatment resources to help you understand what causes this disorder and what increases the chance of recovery is an important first step. It’s important to remember that Alter Wellness Care is always available as a resource to offer help, hope, and education. Let’s explore more about this disorder and how loved ones can help.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States. A person with BED has recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food quickly and often uncomfortably. They feel out of control during the episode and feel shame, guilt, or distress afterward. It is commonly confused with Bulimia Nervosa, but people with BED don’t typically purge after binging; however, this condition can still be life-threatening. It is also a treatable mental health condition.
BED is estimated to affect 1.5% of women and .3% of men worldwide. It’s most prevalent in adolescence and more likely to be resolved before adulthood if diagnosed. Mental health conditions that co-occur with this eating disorder more than 60% of the time include mood, substance use, and anxiety disorders. Half of people with BED are also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and 30% with PTSD.
Characteristics and Signs of Binge Eating Disorder
A Binge Eating Disorder diagnosis includes:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating a large amount of food within any 2-hour period, during which the person feels that they can’t stop eating or control what and how much they eat.
- The episodes are associated with at least three of the following:
- Eating more rapidly than normal
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
- Eating alone out of embarrassment
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty afterward
- Distress about binge eating
- Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months
- Binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of purging as in Bulimia Nervosa
You may notice at least some of these emotional, behavioral, and physical signs in your loved one if they struggle with Binge Eating Disorder:
- Fear of eating around others
- The disappearance of large amounts of food
- Hoarding or hiding food
- Discomfort eating in the presence of others
- Withdrawal from friends and activities they previously enjoyed
- Feeling out of control around certain foods
- Feeling disgusted, guilty, or ashamed after eating
- Weight fluctuations
- Difficulty focusing
- Low self-esteem
- Fixation on weight and appearance
- Cycling between diet plans or foods
- Schedule interruptions
- Irregular eating patterns
- Excessive chewing
- A compulsion such as not allowing foods to touch
- Stomach cramps, constipation, acid reflux, or other GI issues
The Impact of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder impacts every aspect of health, and the risks are widespread. Let’s examine the different impacts of Binge Eating Disorder: emotional, social, and physical.
- Isolation around mealtimes and binge-eating episodes
- Difficulty being present with others due to feeling distracted or unwell
- Heart disease
- Adult-onset diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Musculoskeletal problems
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Sleep apnea
- Infertility or pregnancy issues (women)
Binge Eating Disorder Facts
There are many possible causes for developing Binge Eating Disorder, including genetic and neurobiological components. Risk factors for the development of BED include any of the following features or events that stress a person’s coping mechanisms and resources:
- A family history of eating disorders
- Negative self-image
- Loss or trauma
- Relationship stress
- Changing schools or employers
- Having a child
Sometimes, a major transition triggers a desire for control over another aspect of one’s life, such as eating.
The effects of Binge Eating Disorder can be life-threatening. If someone you love develops signs of Binge Eating Disorder and is willing to seek help, treatment options are available to support their recovery. The sooner treatment is implemented, the higher the likelihood of long-term recovery.
How to Help Someone With a Binge Eating Disorder
There are many ways you can provide emotional support to your loved one exactly where they are, whether or not they are ready to choose treatment and recovery:
- Avoid discussing body image, weight, diets, or food
- Remind them of their character, strengths, and your shared interests and memories
- Plan consistent, non-meal-focused activities together
- Listen compassionately rather than try to control their behavior
- Educate yourself about Binge Eating Disorder
- Communicate hope for the possibility of recovery
- See a therapist if you’re distressed
- Join a support group of other loved ones of people with BED
- Practice and model self-care
- Remember that only they can choose to take the next step toward recovery
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Options
Binge Eating Disorder is treated with therapy, medication, lifestyle modifications, and support groups in outpatient and inpatient settings. Call Alter Wellness Care at 866-820-2943 to learn about mental health treatment options.
Evidence-based therapy and medication options that help build healthier ways of thinking, coping, and relating include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Each medication uniquely affects individuals, so it may take time to experiment and find the most effective one. In the meantime, you can also support your recovery with lifestyle modifications such as:
- Eating breakfast and focusing on nutrition rather than dieting
- Limiting foods in your environment that trigger your desire to binge
- Consistently connecting with supportive family members and friends
- Attending your therapy sessions and support groups
- Doing physical activities that reduce stress and bring joy
FAQs About How to Help Someone with Binge Eating Disorder
What is a Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge Eating Disorder is the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. It involves consistently eating large amounts of food in short periods while feeling full to the point of discomfort, followed by negative feelings about one’s behavior.
What are the common signs of Binge Eating Disorder?
Common signs of BED are avoiding eating around others, eating large amounts of food in one episode, hoarding or hiding food, seeming distracted, being fixated on body weight or image, and eating irregularly.
How is Binge Eating Disorder different from other eating disorders?
BED is unique from Bulimia Nervosa because binging isn’t usually followed by purging. Anorexia Nervosa is distinct from BED in its focus on eating little or nothing.
What are the risks associated with Binge Eating Disorder?
Social and emotional risks of BED include social isolation, depression, shame, and anxiety. Cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, joint, sleep, fertility, and diabetic complications are physical risks.
How can I help a loved one with a Binge Eating Disorder?
Compassion and empathy are paramount in gaining the trust of a person with BED. They need to share their feelings and behaviors without feeling judged, especially as they typically judge themselves harshly. Learning about BED and available treatments, focusing on their strengths, sharing your hope for their recovery, and emphasizing your willingness to support them is much more effective than criticizing or controlling their behavior.
What treatment options are available for Binge Eating Disorder?
Several effective treatment options for Binge Eating Disorder include therapy techniques, medications, and support groups. Alter Wellness Care offers comprehensive recovery services. Call 866.820.2943 to find out how their treatment options can help your loved one recover from Binge Eating Disorder.
Are there any self-care strategies for managing Binge Eating Disorder?
Avoiding trigger foods and environments, practicing mindfulness and relaxation, connecting with supportive people, consistently and gently exercising, and regularly attending counseling sessions and support groups can significantly decrease your Binge Eating Disorder symptoms and behaviors.