What is Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D)?
B.E.D. is an eating disorder in which a person experiences recurrent episodes of binge eating (on average, at least once per week for for three months) that are marked by consuming abnormally large amounts of food, more food than a person would normally eat in a similar period of time. Binge-eating episodes are often accompanied by a feeling of being “out of control” and followed by feelings of guilt and shame. Binge eating may also be characterized by eating extremely fast, eating beyond feeling full, eating a lot when not hungry, eating in secret to hide how much is being eaten. Unlike people with other types of eating disorders, people with B.E.D. don’t routinely try to “undo” their excessive eating with extreme actions like throwing up or over-exercising.
How common is B.E.D?
B.E.D. affects an estimated 2.8 million US adults, making it 3x more common among adults in the United States than anorexia and bulimia combined. It can be seen in children, teens, and adults and can affect both women and men. Although the exact cause of Binge Eating Disorder is unknown, it is believed that certain chemicals in the brain, family history, and certain life experiences play an important role. The judgment, shaming, blaming, and discriminating that takes place around body weight in today’s society is also thought to be a key contributor.
How is B.E.D. managed?
Recovery from B.E.D. is typically an ongoing process of growth and insight, and change happens by working through the ups and downs. Over time, those with B.E.D can develop a much more peaceful relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves. Compassionate self-care and self-awareness are key for long lasting recovery. Treatment may include individual therapy, support groups, family therapy, family member support/education, specialized nutrition counseling, or medication. Various types of therapeutic modalities have been found to be helpful including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Other types of therapy may also be available and effective, but have not been thoroughly studied yet.