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All You Need to Know About Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the US. The lifetime prevalence of BED is 3% and it affects more women than men but can affect anyone.  Usually, the symptoms begin in the person’s early 20’s but can start any time in a person’s life.   BED is associated with other comorbid medical and mental health conditions such as social anxiety, phobias, depression, PTSD, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.  There are effective treatments available for BED.  If you think you are affected by BED, discuss your symptoms with your health care provider. 

At Hopemark Health, our health care team is highly trained and knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders, including BED.  We are a group of compassionate mental health professionals, and our goal is to make you feel safe, seen, and comfortable as you heal.

Symptoms of BED include:

These episodes would happen at least once per week for 3 months but could happen daily or several times per day.  In BED, the person will not compensate for the binging, as in other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, such as by vomiting, heavily exercising, starving oneself, or using laxatives.  BED is sometimes associated with obesity but not everyone with BED is overweight or obese.

There are risk factors associated with getting BED such as a history of childhood obesity, perfectionism, history of physical or sexual abuse, genetic/inherited factors, altered perception of body image, family medical or mental health history, and history of frequent dieting, among others. 

There is treatment available for BED and if you think you are affected, it’s best to talk to your provider. Treatment includes psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and certain medications.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapy shown to be effective for BED.  CBT focuses on self-monitoring related to eating, challenging thought distortions related to body image and eating, and conducting behavior experiments related to food and eating.  Also, CBT can teach eating on a regular schedule, dealing with binging triggers and relapse prevention.  This is the most studied treatment for BED and is very effective.

Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) focuses on emotional regulation taking a “dialectal” stance, which accepts patients for how they are but also helps encourage them reach to achieve their goals (meaning this and that can both be true).  For example, “I binge eat food and also I enjoy eating food the most when I am hungry”.  Patients learn mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

A registered dietitian can do a full nutrition assessment to understand the nutritional needs for an individual.  Then, they can help make a personalized and balanced meal plan that applies those nutritional needs.  They can also monitor weight and educate the person on any dietary misconceptions. 

Medications are available that can help people suffering with BED stabilize mood and anxiety, curb cravings, and control binging.  There are different medications available depending on each person’s needs, medical history, and comorbidities. Ask your medical provider if medication is right for you.

Hopemark Health providers who are knowledgeable in BED will guide you in your treatment plan and help you choose the therapy and medication (if appropriate) that is right for you once they have done a full medical and mental health history.  Call today to have an initial assessment.

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  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2020). Binge-Eating Disorder. In The Neurobiology of Eating Disorders (pp. 321-330). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551700/

  2. Office on Women’s Health. (n.d.). Binge Eating Disorder. Women’s Health. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder

  3. White, M. A., Grilo, C. M., & Sinha, R. (2020). Binge Eating Disorder: From Assessment to Treatment. Current Addiction Reports, 7(4), 371-381. doi: 10.1007/s40429-020-00307-x. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7285554/

  4. Eating Disorder Hope. (n.d.). The Role of a Dietitian in Binge Eating Disorder Recovery. Eating Disorder Hope. Retrieved from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/the-role-of-a-dietitian-in-binge-eating-disorder-recovery

  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association.

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