What’s Binge Eating Disorder?

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I notice people respond with confusion and skepticism when I explain my specialty as a therapist who treats Binge eating disorder. They ask “What’s the difference between eating too much and binge eating?”

All types of binging are ways to deal with negative emotions in unhealthy, self-defeating ways. When someone feels a need to binge in private, or schedule binges instead of work and being with friends, it’s time to re-assess. A binge disorder characterized by feelings of helplessness, secrecy, shame and social isolation. Binge eating is a very common eating disorder in adults. It’s in the category under compulsive disorders. It’s a problem that can manifest with food, alcohol, relationships, work and shopping.

Treatment starts with accepting that binge eating is a problem. Many experts agree that lack of mindfulness (paying attention to the present moment) is closely linked to compulsive behavior. There are ways to treat binge eating disorder, such as mindfulness meditation and journaling. Getting in the habit of pausing and waiting 5-10 minutes to acknowledge feelings or thoughts is a good way to slow down the impulse to act. Ask yourself when you feel the urgency to binge:

1. Is this really what I NEED?

2. Is this HELPFUL?

3. Am I being KIND to myself?

4. If I didn’t do this, what would I be FEELING?

Binge eating can also be a coping mechanism for depression or other mood related problems. Remember, it’s not necessary to suffer alone. If bingeing is continuously, negatively impacting your life, therapy should be the first step in taking care of yourself.

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