Binge Eating Disorder B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It affects 3x the number of people diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia combined. An estimated 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30%-40% of those seeking weight loss treatments meet criteria for a B.E.D diagnosis. An even higher number of people may not meet full diagnostic criteria for the disorder, but still suffer from the emotional effects of binge eating.
Being mindful and present is key to overcoming binge eating behavior and coming to a place of self-compassion and love. Although recovery is a complex process, here are some strategies that can help you gain control:
Set yourself up for success
For many, a binge is, in large part, a reaction to restrictive dieting. When your body is deprived of nutrients and calories, it is in “starvation mode” - making it incredibly difficult not to engage in a binge once your body finally has access to food (especially food that is considered “off limits”). The key here is to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours (a combination of protein and fiber is best).
As soon as you notice the urge to binge – STOP in your tracks and take a few minutes to really listen to yourself. Find a quiet place, sit down, and tune in…
NOTICE & NAME your emotion:
NOTICE what your heart and body are experiencing. Ask yourself: “What am I feeling and thinking, right now in this moment?” Once you can identify a thought or emotion, NAME it. Is it Anxiety? Fear? Loneliness? Anger? Sadness? By giving your emotions a name, you can create some space for yourself to step away, observe your experience in a new light, and chose a different, more effective behavior.
Chose an ACTION:
The goal here is to listen to your needs and care for yourself in a healthy way. Ask you yourself: “What am I needing right now and how can I take care of this need?” For example, if what you are really feeling is loneliness, instead of engaging in a binge to numb this feeling, call a friend or family member to re-connect. If you are feeling anxious, perhaps taking a walk around the block or engaging in a deep breathing exercise can help you feel more calm.
Recovering from binge-eating behaviors takes time and often requires engaging in treatment with a professional therapist or counselor. For those experiencing binge-eating episodes on a more frequent basis (at least once per week for three months), it’s important to make self-care a major priority, and reach out for help.