Binge eating disorder, also known as BED, was once considered a subcategory of an eating disorder. It is now recognized as a serious medical condition and eating disorder that can be life-threatening. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and up to 1.6% of those who are adolescents. Despite its prevalence, you can change your relationship and approach to food to help stop your binge eating disorder.
Talk to your doctor.
Before you approach any treatment for your BED, you should see your doctor for an official diagnosis — BED can only be diagnosed by a doctor or other healthcare professional. Your doctor will look at your physical and emotional symptoms to help you figure out the best way to treat it.
Your doctor can also help you find the right therapist to treat your BED.
Your doctor may suggest some medications that have been approved for BED, though these will likely need to be accompanied by lifestyle changes and therapy.
If you have a very severe case of BED, your doctor may suggest you check yourself into an inpatient facility where you can receive around-the-clock support.
Get cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
One of the best treatments for BED is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that you do with a trained mental health professional. CBT will analyze your current thoughts and behaviors and help you restructure them into more productive and healthy patterns.
In these sessions, you will formulate a treatment plan with your therapist, coming up with behavioral strategies and methods for managing your feelings and stabilizing your eating.
After this, you will also examine the thoughts that lead to your BED and work to restructure these thought patterns so you have a healthier relationship to your thoughts, feelings, and body image.
You will then work on reducing your triggers, maintaining your current progress, and avoiding relapse. This method sets out to get you back to a healthier way of life.
You can look for a CBT therapist in your area through an online locator. Look into one that specializes in eating disorders to ensure you get the best care possible.
Try dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of talk therapy that merges aspects of CBT with eastern approaches to mental health. It is a treatment method more focused on treating the emotional aspects of BED. It has four main tenants of treatment, which are:
Mindfulness, which teaches you to control your mind and your thoughts instead of letting them control you.
Distress tolerance, which teaches you to cope with emotional suffering in healthy ways.
Emotion regulation, which will teach you to validate your emotions, reduce negative thoughts, and increase positive thinking.
Interpersonal effectiveness, which teaches you to create beneficial, effective relationships to others that give you what you need emotionally.
Look into interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
Interpersonal psychotherapy is a treatment methods specifically targeted to help you improve your interpersonal skills with your loved ones and analyze how these relationships are affected and contribute to your BED. If you feel your BED is triggered by how you interact or communicate with others or by unhealthy relationships, IPT will be particularly helpful.
You will work on how to approach social situations and how to relate to others, including friends, family, and coworkers.
Find a support group.
If you are suffering from binge eating disorder, look into finding a binge eating support group. The people in this group will help you learn additional ways to deal with your BED that you may not have come across yet.
These groups may also offer you invaluable support when you are going through a tough time. These people have all been there, which means they can empathize with you and help you get through because they have been there too.
Eat only when you’re really hungry.
One of the main problems with binge eating is mindlessly eating when you are not hungry. This can lead you to overeat because you are already eating when you aren’t hungry. Instead of eating whenever the feeling strikes, when you are stressed, or for any other reason, only eat when you are hungry.
You can prevent this by only eating when you notice you are hungry. Take an assessment of how your body feels and see if you are hungry.
You should also eat a meal or snack as soon as you realize you are hungry. If you wait until you are starving, you may be tempted to binge eat as much as possible.
Avoid bored eating.
You may start mindlessly eating because you are bored. If you aren’t hungry but have the compulsion to binge eat, ask yourself if you’re eating just because you’re bored. Are you peering into the fridge just because you’re looking for something to do? If so, avoid eating.
Instead, drink a glass of water or find a way to stay active. Take a walk, call your best friend, or pick up a new hobby instead of eating.
Manage your portions.
One way to lessen the chance of binge eating is to maintain portion control. Don’t ever eat anything right out of a bag or box because you won’t know how much you’re eating. Measure out your meals and snacks, putting them in bowls or on plates. This will keep your eating habits within a normal range instead of pushing you to overeat or binge.
Instead of deprivation, focus on moderation. If you’re having a craving for peanut butter, have a spoonful of peanut butter with a banana. This will keep you from reaching your breaking point five days later and eating an entire jar of peanut butter.
Schedule meal times.
Eating on a regular schedule at normal mealtimes will help your prevent binges. If you go for half a day without eating, you will be much more likely to indulge in a binge. This may look like three meals or five to six smaller meals — consider talking to a nutritionist to figure out the best meal plan for your lifestyle. Find a way to eat healthy foods that you do love so your meals are nourishing and delicious.
This will help you not feel like you’re just making your way through a boring tasteless meal instead of eating what you really want.
Keep healthy snacks around the house to eat in between meals. You should eat three distinct meals, but keep around healthy options like fruits, nuts, and veggies to snack on in between meals.
Be a mindful eater.
Binge eating is often done quickly with little to no attention paid to what you are eating. If you pay attention to everything you eat, you will be less likely to get lost and not know what you are eating. Take time to consider what your food looks like, feel the food in your mouth, smell what it smells like, and taste what it tastes like. This will help you be aware of what you’re eating.
Each meal should have a distinct start and stop. Don’t graze for twenty minutes while you’re cooking your dinner, or snack while you’re cleaning up after a meal.
Eat in the right places.
Make sure you eat your meals at the kitchen table or another place designated for eating. Don’t eat in front of the TV or your computer, or even when you’re on the phone, or you won’t be focused on what you’re eating and will be less likely to enjoy what you’re eating or to truly feel full.
Those who eat while distracted — watching TV or while working — tend to eat more than those who focus on their meal.
You should also not eat standing up, since this will make the act feel disconnected from the eating process.
Use the right dishware.
Eat your meals and snacks on smaller plates with smaller forks or spoons. The smaller plates and bowls will make you feel like you’re eating more food, and the smaller forks or spoons will make you take more time to digest your food.
This will help you avoid overfilling your plate, which may make you more likely to eat more.
Avoid trigger foods or situations.
Another way to avoid binging is to keep yourself away from situations or foods that could lead to a binge. Taking measures to prevent binges in and out of your home will have a big impact on how you address your cravings. Avoiding triggers means recognizing a high-risk situation and creating a game plan to deal with it.
Try to spend more of your social time doing activities that don’t involve food. Take a friend for a hike or a walk, or meet your friends at a bar that you know doesn’t serve food.
If you’re going to a family party or a potluck that you know will be filled with delicious foods and desserts, set out food limits for yourself. Tell yourself you can only have one plate of food and stick to it.
Bring your own snacks to places with tempting snacks. If you know you’ll be tempted to binge eat popcorn at your local theater, sneak in your own portion controlled snacks, such as trail mix or microwave popcorn.
Consult a registered dietician.
Many individuals with eating disorders consider getting help from a dietician. She can help you make a meal plan, decide what you need to eat every day, what portions you should eat, and how to change your relationship to the food. Your dietician can help you come up with sample menus, food lists, and portions to each per meal.
This will help prevent you from binge eating because your food will be preset for each meal.
Your dietician can also help you get back to listening to your body’s natural cues on when to eat and when to stop eating, which is important for BED.
Be aware that the term “nutritionist” is vague and could refer to someone with a PhD, or someone who has just done a quick course on nutrition — that is, she may not be qualified to give you sound nutritional advice. A registered dietician is considered a health professional with the requisite education and certifications, and is legally allowed to “prescribe” a meal plan or treatment.
<img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/3/36/Identify-Symptoms-of-Clogged-Arteries-Step-13.jpg/aid593974-v4-728px-Identify-Symptoms-of-Clogged-Arteries-Step-13.jpg' alt='Manage your stress.’ width=’900′ height=’599′ />
Binge eating may be in response to other areas of your life. If you feel out of control in other areas of your life, you may binge eat to feel in control of the situations. This may be because you’re worried about another aspect of your life, such as your job, personal relationships, or the health of a loved one. One way to help change your binge eating is to manage the stress in your life.
Reflect on your situation to help with stress. Are there multiple factors in your life that are leading to your stress? How can you minimize these factors? For example, if a major source of stress in your life is living with an unbearable roommate, it may be time to get out of the situation so you feel more mentally sound.
Do activities that can help you feel at ease. Try yoga, meditation, or going for long walks. Listen to jazz or classical music. Do what you need to do to feel more in control of your life.
Keep a journal.
Keeping a journal where you can write down your thoughts, discuss your cravings, and reflect after an episode of binge eating can help you feel more in touch with your feelings. It may also help you identify your triggers. Taking the time out of your day to think about your actions and feelings can have a big impact on how you approach your life.
Be honest with yourself. Write down how you’re feeling about all aspects of your life, from your relationships to your relationship with food. You may even surprise yourself.
Keep a log of the food you’ve eaten, but don’t let it lead you to obsess over every little thing you eat (logging your food may not be productive for someone with obsessive tendencies). Sometimes knowing that you have to write down everything you eat will keep you from overindulging. If you start to feel a lot of anxiety around logging your food or find that you are being extremely rigid, try taking a step back and a break from logging.
You should also write down what you wanted to — but didn’t — eat. This will help you notice trigger foods.
This will also help you discuss your binge eating habits with your doctor and therapist so you they can help you change this behavior and notice warning signs.
Listen to your body.
Take the time to connect your mind and your body. If you know what your body is really telling you, it will be easier to understand what leads to your binge eating episodes and to manage your eating. If you feel the urge to binge eat, try doing something else, such as take a walk, read a book, or some other diverting exercise until your craving passes.
If you have a craving, don’t give into it instantly. Decide if you are really hungry or if you just want to compulsively eat. If you have eaten recently or if your stomach is not growling, you may not actually be hungry. Try to ride it out — allow time to let the craving pass.
Notice recurrent episodes of excessive eating.
The first symptom of binge eating disorder is frequent instances of excessive, or binge, eating. Eating is considered binge if, over a short period of time (a two-hour period), you eat way more than is considered normal. There will also be a feeling of a loss of control over what you are eating and over the ability to stop eating.
To be considered binge eating disorder, these episodes must occur at least once a week for three months.
Assess your feelings during and after eating.
There are certain feelings associated with binge eating, both during and after. If you have binge eating disorder, you will feel uncomfortable and unhappy during your binge eating. You will also feel overwhelmingly distressed following your binge eating episodes. These can include physical feelings as well as mental feelings. If you have binge eating disorder, you will experience at least three of the following:
An urge to continue to eat even though you are not physically hungry
Eating much faster than normal
Needing to eat past the point of being full, causing discomfort
Being embarrassed about how much you are eating, causing you to eat alone
Being disgusted with yourself, depressed, or extremely guilty after a binge
Look for other characteristic behaviors.
Binge eating disorder manifests itself in additional behavioral issues within your life. When you are trying to decide if you have BED, you can look for other behaviors in addition to binge eating. These behaviors include:
Secretive eating behaviors, such as eating behind closed doors, in your car, or away from others
Stealing, hoarding, or hiding food
Cyclical bouts of strict, extreme dieting or fasting in between binges
Obsessive food behavior, such as eating only one type of food, not allowing different food types to touch, or excessive chewing
Making lifestyle and schedule changes to make time for binge eating
Eating constantly throughout the day with no strict meal times
Skipping normal meal times or limiting portions of foods at meal times
Feeling depressed often or being clinically diagnosed with depression
Being disgusted with your body size
Differentiate between other eating disorders.
Binge eating disorder may be confused with some other eating disorders. Bulimia is often confused with binge eating disorder, but there is a major difference between the two disorders: If you have binge eating disorder, you never try to purge the food you eat after an episode of binge eating. With bulimia, you do purge after you eat, even when you eat small meals.
Purging includes forced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or other unnatural ways to get rid of food.