Binge Eating Disorder; What is it and How to Heal?
Updated: Jun 15
What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder that may not be as widely recognised as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, despite being a prevalent issue faced by many individuals. Individuals with BED experience an overwhelming urge to consume a large amount of food within a short period, often leading to a feeling of extreme fullness and discomfort. Binge episodes typically involve rapid eating and a sense of loss of control, making it difficult to stop. Many individuals have described feeling detached from reality during these episodes, which are often pre-planned. Binges are usually kept secretive, and individuals may experience feelings of shame, guilt, self-disgust, and distress afterwards. Unlike Bulimia Nervosa, BED does not involve compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, although some individuals may restrict their food intake between binges. It is important to note that BED can contribute to weight gain, but this is not always the case.
Although BED can affect anyone, it tends to be less common among younger individuals and is more frequently observed in older age groups, often emerging during late teens or early twenties. It can also serve as a precursor to other eating disorders, such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.
Tips for healing from binge eating disorder
Maintain a regular eating pattern to prevent intense feelings of physical hunger and psychological cravings that can trigger binges. Aim to have three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and include mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. Avoid going long periods without eating.
Plan your meals ahead of time. This can help you establish a structured eating routine and enhance your sense of control.
Avoid restricting or completely avoiding certain foods. Depriving yourself of specific foods can create stronger cravings and increase the likelihood of bingeing on them.
Practice mindful eating by slowing down your pace, savoring each bite, and being fully present during meals. Pay attention to the colors, smells, and textures of your food. Minimise distractions like using electronic devices or watching television while eating.
Serve a portion that aligns with your intended meal size and keep additional food out of sight. For instance, after preparing a sandwich, put away the remaining ingredients. If you feel like having more, take a pause after finishing your meal to assess if you genuinely want more before serving additional portions.
Consolidate all your food items in one designated place, typically the kitchen. This helps create a clear distinction between eating areas and reduces opportunities for impulsive snacking.
Identify triggers for your binges, such as specific times, locations, moods, thoughts, circumstances, or people. Develop strategies to address these triggers and regain a sense of control. Examples include engaging in distractions (calling a friend, doing household tasks, going for a walk), physically distancing yourself from food areas, taking a bath, or seeking social company.
Practice self-compassion and avoid harsh self-criticism if you do experience a binge episode. Criticising yourself only perpetuates negative feelings and hampers your motivation to bounce back. Instead, reflect on the binge to understand its triggers, your coping strategies, and consider what you can do differently next time. Once you have learned from the experience, let go of the episode and focus your energy on getting back on track with your goals.
If you would like support to address binge eating disorder please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or kindly complete the webform. I offer therapy in-person in St Albans/Hertfordshire and online.