Binge eating disorder (BED) is one of the most common eating disorders in America, with roughly 2 million Americans suffering from this disorder. Binge eating disorder is often driven by an unhealthy relationship with food. People with binge eating disorder may find themselves obsessively eating large amounts of food or engaging in emotional eating. People who binge eat may do so to alleviate depression or anxiety. Fortunately, there are treatments for binge eating and you can repair your relationship with food.

Not everyone who overeats has a binge eating disorder!

People with binge eating disorder frequently overeat and feel out of control during a binge. Like all eating disorders, binge eating disorder is not about a person’s weight or about weight loss. Many adults with binge eating disorder are at a normal weight. Binge eating disorder presents itself as unhealthy eating habits and negative emotions including, guilt, shame, depression or anxiety.

The exact cause of binge eating disorder is unknown. There is some evidence that binge eating disorder could be linked to family history, brain chemistry or to stressful life events. People may develop binge eating disorder in response to stressful life events and use emotional eating as a way to self-soothe. If you have a family member that suffers from binge eating disorder or from an eating disorder, there is increased likelihood that you may also develop binge eating disorder.

Are there treatment options for binge eating disorder?

Treatment options for binge eating disorder include medications, therapy and lifestyle changes. Treatment for binge eating disorder should also address the negative emotions that come with binge eating. People who binge eat may suffer from poor self-image or feel extreme guilt and shame. It’s important to address those emotions or feelings if you want to change your eating habits. 

When seeking treatment options for binge eating disorder, avoid any diet or weight loss program. Restrictive eating habits, dieting or pressure to achieve weight loss can trigger binge eating. When treating binge eating disorder make sure that you are not restricting. Regular eating can help reduce the urge to binge. Starving yourself or restricting certain foods can make the urge to binge worse and will not lead to a healthy relationship with food.

Having a regular eating plan and sticking to a meal schedule can help reduce the urge to binge. Regular eating will ensure that your hunger cues don’t become overwhelming and it can provide a sense of control over your eating behaviors. Skipping meals can increase cravings which may trigger a binge.

What can I do to manage binge eating disorder?

Physical activity may help reduce the urge to binge eat. It’s important to avoid over-exercising which will make you more hungry and can increase negative emotions such as guilt or shame. When using physical exercise to treat binge eating, it’s important that the activity is enjoyable. Going for a walk outside or gentle yoga exercises may help you feel more calm and accomplished. Physical activity can help reduce stress and reduce depression and anxiety. All of those things may be triggers for someone with binge eating disorder. It’s important that the physical activity is enjoyable and the goal is not weight loss.

Cleaning out junk food may help reduce the urge to binge. By removing the food that triggers your urge to binge, you’ll feel less anxiety when around eating. Avoiding triggers like junk food can be helpful as that means there are fewer options for you to engage in binge eating. It’s important when limiting junk food or avoiding other triggering foods that you don’t make these restricted items. Assigning too much negative emotions to certain foods can lead to obsessions and cravings which will trigger the urge to binge. It’s important to remind yourself that this is food you don’t want to eat, not food that you can’t eat. Also, make sure that you replace junk food with healthy alternatives so that you can keep with your regular eating schedule.

Lack of sleep can also trigger the urge to binge. People who suffer from lack of sleep often struggle to maintain a regular eating schedule. Having a regular and consistent eating pattern is helpful for treating binge eating disorder but an unusual or inconsistent sleep schedule will make that difficult. Lack of sleep can also increase one’s appetite. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

If you’re struggling to manage binge eating disorder, reach out to your healthcare provider for other treatment options. Medications or psychotherapy are both effective treatment options for binge eating disorder.