What is binge-eating disorder?
Binge-eating is a severe eating disorder, where you frequently consume large quantities of food and feel unable to stop eating. It affects around 2% of people worldwide. It’s true that all of us eat too much every now and again, but this is a regular occurrence for those affected with this disorder. Binge-eating disorder shouldn’t be paired or confused as being similar to bulimia; those with BED don’t try to undo the binge by throwing up, or over-exercising.
What are the symptoms?
- Eating huge amounts of food in a specific amount of time e.g., over 2 hours
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Often dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Frequently eating alone, or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Feeling that your eating behaviour is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full, or not hungry
What treatment is there?
Binge-eating disorder definitely requires the right professional treatment and support, or else it can lead to very dangerous consequences. You’ll probably be offered a guided self-help programme, as a first step in treating BED. This involves working through a self-help book, combined with sessions with a therapist. If this alone is not enough, or if this has not helped after 4 weeks, you may also be offered CBT. This will usually be in group sessions with others but may also be offered as 1-to-1’s with a therapist.
Usually, it’s common that there’s approximately 16 weekly sessions of around 90 minutes in a group, or 60-minute sessions if it’s a 1-to-1. You will talk to a therapist to explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that could be contributing to your eating disorder, and they will also help you to plan out the meals and snacks you should have during the day, to help you to adopt regular eating habits. Moreover, they can further help you to change and manage negative feelings about your body, helping you stick to your new eating habits, so that you do not relapse back into binge eating.
How can you help someone with binge-eating disorder?
- Be mindful of their triggers and try not to centre food in conversations
- Learn about binge eating disorder as knowing more allows you to be better at supporting them
- Listen but don’t overstep (if you’re not a doctor!)
- Don’t force them to eat more or less
- Don’t judge them, or make them feel shamed