Is Food Ruling Your Life?
- Do you frequently overeat, binge eat, or experience loss of control around food?
- Do you use food to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, or difficult situations?
- Have you stopped finding any real joy or satisfaction in food?
- Do you define your days as “good food days” and “bad food days”?
- Do you often feel ashamed or angry with yourself after overeating or binge eating?
- Do you think obsessively about food and wish you had room in your mind for other things?
You can learn to finally make peace with food and live the life you crave through binge eating disorder treatment.
Food fuels our bodies. But, if you struggle with binge eating, you may view food as an enemy or an obstacle. Perhaps you frequently feel as though you are craving something and overeat to fill a void. You might begin each day with good intentions, but find yourself binge eating at night or after a stressful interaction with a coworker or partner. Maybe you are so stressed out at work that you eat very little, only to mindlessly overeat once you get home. Sometimes, you may not even realize you are in the middle of a binge until you find yourself standing by your refrigerator, wondering how you got there. You might often hear yourself saying, “What’s wrong with me?” or “I’ll start over tomorrow.” This pattern can diminish self-worth. Your relationship with food may be making you feel defeated, hopeless, and overwhelmed. Maybe you have lost weight and gained it back many times, which makes you feel deeply unhappy with your body, unattractive or unhealthy. You might feel that worry and stress about food is preventing you from living a happy, fun, and truly fulfilling life.
Many People Struggle With Binge Eating & Compulsive Overeating
If frequent overeating is causing you shame and diminishing your self-esteem, you are not alone. About 3.5% of women and 2% of men struggle with binge eating disorder and a larger number binge eat. Binge eating is a hidden problem, and one that people of all shapes and sizes suffer from. Shame often prevents people from speaking openly about their obsession with food, and most binge eating sessions take place in the privacy of the home.
Many people who binge eat feel a void in their lives, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. They are unfulfilled in some deep way, but are unable to identify the true source of their dissatisfaction. Food can serve as a temporary solution and a source of pleasure, but, after a binge, few people feel happy or satisfied. Too often, people who binge eat focus on being in control, which can mean being “good” or being “bad.” If you regulate your behaviors down to these two categories, you are likely setting yourself up for pain and disappointment. However, through therapy for binge eating you can break free of this destructive thought pattern and begin to discover that you are not defined by the food you eat each day.
What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating is characterized by eating a significantly greater proportion of food in a particular time period than the average person might eat. Binge eating is also accompanied by a strong feeling of compulsion and lack of control over the binge eating. When binge eating, people may also eat in secret or eat much quicker than usual.
People often say, “I feel like I can’t stop eating.” What makes it more difficult is when it is accompanied by a well-meaning, yet critical voice saying, “you should not eat that”, “you’re disgusting”, or other shaming thoughts.
A binge can be experienced differently by different people. If you think you may be experiencing binge eating, it’s a good idea to consult with a therapist who can provide help for binge eating. Your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment examining all factors that may be contributing to binge eating. You may also be referred to a dietitian not to be put on a meal plan, but to help identify what is needed to restore balance in your relationship with food.
Is Binge Eating an Eating Disorder?
Binge eating is a form of disordered eating and can lead to intense emotional pain, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate the more serious, binge eating disorder, as a “binge” can be defined and experienced differently. The common thread however, is the use of food to meet needs (whether physical, emotional, spiritual or otherwise) and the ensuing pain, guilt, shame, and other uncomfortable feelings.
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder (BED) is by far the most prevalent eating disorder, affecting nearly 3% of the general public and 30% of obese individuals seeking weight loss. Here are the features of binge eating disorder:
A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
1. 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.
2. 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).
B. The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
1. Eating much more rapidly than normal
2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
4. Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
C. Marked distress regarding binge eating
D. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
Do I Have an Eating Disorder?
If you responded yes to the questions above then yes, you do have an eating disorder. An eating disorder is a very serious condition not to be minimized. Often, people struggling with binge eating disorder feel they should just be able to “get it” or stop bingeing. Individuals who are overweight are often especially misunderstood or overlooked by our medical care system and given diet and exercise tips. It’s important to understand that binge eating is not your fault nor is it a result of low will-power.
It’s an eating disorder. It’s serious. And binge eating disorder treatment is available. Treatment is not about diet and exercise, but ultimately about discovering what problems the binge eating behavior is attempting to solve, which is often physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual (purpose and connection) in nature. People overcome binge eating disorder. There is hope!
Why Do I Binge Eat?
If you’re dealing with binge eating disorder, sometimes the drive to overeat seems to come from nowhere and feels unstoppable. What we now know neurologically is that the powerful drive to eat comes from a part of the brain trying desperately to soothe the person in a time of perceived stress or threat. In fact, the drive to binge is actually the brain doing something right! When this happens, the part of the brain used to make rational decisions is, literally, offline.
The trouble is that the real solution is not always to immediately soothe or avoid, but to learn to deal with stress consciously and effectively. We need to actually learn to get out of the part of the brain that wants to check out (the midbrain), and get back to the part that can make healthy, safe adult decisions (the “thinking brain” or the neocortex). Doing this helps the brain get out of “space out” mode, and back into our healthy adult self.
Therapy Can Help You Make Long-Lasting Changes in Your Life
At Eddins Counseling Group, we specialize in binge eating treatment. We
help clients push aside ideas of “good” and “bad.” Instead, we move beyond food to uncover the deeply held fears and desires as well as physical imbalances that drive people to compulsively overeat. We want to help you find ways to feel good in your body and in your life.
The initial goal of binge eating treatment is not weight loss though your weight may shift once you heal your relationship with your body. If you focus too much on the number on the scale, you may be overly fixated on an immediate, short-term result to the detriment of your own healing as it can actually trigger or cause binge eating. For many people binge eating starts in response to a period of restrictive eating or any type of deprivation due to the focus on weight loss. One of the first BED treatment goals is to reduce binge eating, so the focus initially is on reducing behaviors, thoughts, environments and other triggers of binge eating episodes.
Effective BED treatment is not a diet or a quick fix. Instead, in treatment for binge eating, you will learn to make lifestyle changes that work and address the underlying issues that are fueling the binge eating behaviors. You cannot quit food or abstain from food. Instead, you can develop tools to manage cravings – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Your therapist can help you unlock the unsatisfied needs that are driving you to overeat and help you cope with difficult symptoms/emotions in different ways.
In sessions, you can learn to identify triggers, trust your body, treat yourself with compassion, and better understand the feelings that make you want to binge. Once you heal the factors that are contributing to the binge eating, you can begin to release your body’s “weight loss resistance.” Weight loss, however, is something that comes later in the process vs. right away so that it doesn’t trigger the restrict-binge cycle. Therapy for binge eating can help you escape the trap of “not good enough.” We offer both individual and group therapy.
Group Therapy Help for Binge Eating
In group therapy sessions, you can hear what others are going through and what has helped them on their path to health. You can learn skills while gaining support to overcome your struggle with food. People find the structured program and group support to be incredibly helpful in this journey. With help and the willingness to make effective changes, you can be in charge of your life. When in charge, it becomes possible to accept yourself and change negative definitions of “good” and “bad” into a balanced, nurturing approach to food. Therapy for binge eating can help you fundamentally change your core concept of yourself. You don’t have to live with self-hatred and an obsession with food. Instead, you can clarify your values and dedicate your energy to courageously achieving your goals.
Perhaps you feel as though binge eating treatment can help you move toward a healthier, happier future. But, you may still have questions or concerns…
I Want to Focus on Losing Weight
In sessions, your therapist will help you fundamentally change your relationship with food and help your body find its natural balance. We can look at how you think your weight is impacting you and what opportunities you feel are missing. In order to create lasting changes, you will need to address your core issues and create long-term goals. Yo-yo dieting slows your metabolism and hurts your body. Therapy can help you love and accept your body while developing a healthy relationship with food. And while you may not drop weight immediately, you might notice health numbers such as blood pressure and cholesterol dropping. In the long run, having a balanced relationship with your body can help you release weight loss resistance in your body and ultimately move to a natural weight.
Why Can’t I Just Manage Food Myself?
Sometimes, people believe that therapy means admitting defeat. This is not the case. By seeking therapy, you will be making a huge step toward balance and peace. There is no need to continue battling alone. And, you don’t have to be in therapy forever. Your therapist can help you develop the skills to approach food from a healthy perspective for the rest of your life. The reality is that binge eating is about much more than just food and how you eat.
Binge Eating Disorder Facts
- Traumatic events can contribute to later development of binge eating disorder
- Binge eating disorder symptoms often appear after a period of dieting
- Many people with binge eating disorder are overweight, but not necessarily so! Don’t discount the seriousness or let others minimize your pain by saying, “you don’t seem to have a weight problem.”
- Binge eating disorder may occur in conduction with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD
- Genetics and biochemistry can contribute to binge eating disorder symptoms
I’m Too Ashamed to Talk About My Binge Eating
Because binge eating is so private, you may feel as though a therapist or group will judge you. This is not the case. The therapists at Eddins Counseling Group are here to listen without judgment and help you move away from feelings of shame so you can learn to treat yourself with compassion.
Group therapy sessions can help you see how many other people struggle with binge eating. When you open up and share honestly with others, you can gain a new perspective on your relationship with food. You are not the only one, and there is hope for mental, physical, and spiritual healing. You may also experience shame in recognizing that binge eating is a problem for you. This is actually one of the factors that fuels binge eating and we will work on helping you heal core feelings of shame if those are relevant for you. Once you open up to the process, treating BED can feel freeing and open you up to a new way of relating to yourself, others and food.
The Binge Eating Scale
The Binge Eating Scale may help you assess the presence of binge eating behaviors which may be indicative of an eating disorder.
You Can Change Your Relationship With Food and With Yourself
The qualified therapists at Eddins Counseling Group understand what you are going through. We have helped many people uncover the problems driving them to binge eat. You too can learn to have fun, happiness, and fulfillment in your life again. You can break the cycles of binge eating and emotional eating and learn to treat yourself and your body with love and compassion. Read more about binge eating disorder.