The second most common eating disorder in the United States is one that you may not ever have heard about, but may be struggling with yourself: binge eating disorder (BED). About 1.7% of women, 1.7% of men, and 1.8% of adolescents of all races and ethnicities have BED. If you have BED, you may:
- Eat more food at once than others would normally
- Eat all alone
- Consume food extremely rapidly
- Eat when not even hungry
- Hoard food
If you indulge in binge-eating behaviors at least once a week for at least three months, you will likely be diagnosed with BED. If you have BED, you don’t engage in purging behaviors, such as vomiting or using laxatives, as people with bulimia or anorexia might.
If you struggle with overeating, followed by shame and guilt afterward, no New Year’s Resolutions for more “willpower” can give you the results you seek. If you have BED, the underlying conditions that cause the condition must first be addressed before your eating normalizes.
At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling, our caring counselors know that BED isn’t a matter of “willpower.” At our offices in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, and through secure teletherapy, we help you feel good about food and eat healthy again with our treatments for BED and other eating disorders.
Do you suspect you have BED? Here’s how expert counseling helps.
We get to the root of BED
There’s no single cause for BED. It may be caused by a combination of genes, emotional distress, and trauma, as well as behaviors you learned relating to food or stress management in your family of origin or from your peers.
You may have also developed BED as a response to food insecurity. If you frequently were hungry as a child or experienced traumas such as being in foster care or losing a parent, you may have developed BED as a coping response.
In addition to BED, you may also have other mental health conditions that cause or contribute to your binge-eating behaviors, such as depression or anxiety. Often, people with bed also experience body dysmorphia, so they vacillate between trying to “diet” by skipping meals or starving themselves, alternating with sudden, frenzied feeding.
Our comforting, skilled therapists work with you to find the roots of your binge eating. Through talk therapy, you learn to identify why you developed BED and how it’s served as an (ineffective) coping strategy.
You learn new coping strategies
You’ve probably used binge eating to comfort yourself or to compensate for fears about the lack of food in the future. Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), your counselors help you identify new ways of thinking and responding to your underlying distress.
Instead of strengthening your “willpower,” you learn to recognize unhealthy thoughts or impulses and stop them in their tracks. You replace the strategies that aren’t actually working or solving your problem and develop new ones to replace them.
You also develop a new relationship with food, seeing it as a source of nourishment rather than as a “fix” to distress. As you find more effective ways of managing stress and discomfort, your need to binge eat lessens.
You get help with weight if needed
One possible unwanted consequence of BED is obesity, with all of that condition’s health risks. Unfortunately, if you’re obese or overweight and have BED, you may try to starve yourself or go on severe calorie-restricted diets in an attempt to shed the pounds. But that can worsen your BED.
If you haven’t been able to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, our counselors help with that, too. In addition to talk therapies, we may prescribe medications that either help you modify impulsivity that leads to BED or alleviates anxiety or depression that prompts binge eating.
Another possible consequence of BED is being underweight or malnourished. If you binge eat junk food, for instance, and then skip meals as punishment or because you’re afraid of gaining weight, you may not be giving your body the nourishment it needs to thrive. By resolving BED, you learn to make healthy food choices that keep you healthy, too.
Don’t resolve to stop binge eating: Make a resolution to get the help you need and deserve to stop binge eating. Contact our caring and sensitive team by phone or use our online form for a binge-eating diagnosis and treatment today. We also offer telehealth counseling sessions.