Getting help for binge eating is perhaps one of the more difficult of all the eating disorders to treat. For starters, it can be tricky to determine when over eating has crossed the line and become a “disorder”.
There is also a lot of shame attached to being a binge eater – I myself have often felt as though I had failed at eating disorders because I was not able to stay away from food altogether or just purge after every binge.
However, it is possible to get help for binge eating and if you have identified yourself as a binge eater, you are not alone! A study in 2007 conducted by researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found the disorder to be more prevalent than bulimia or anorexia.
Binge Eating Disorder Comparison Stats:
0.9 percent of women and 0.3 percent of men reported having anorexia at some point;
1.5 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men reported having bulimia at some point;
3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men reported having binge eating disorder at some point
Getting Help for Binge Eating
So what can you do if you identify yourself as someone with a binge eating disorder? How can you get help and recover from this prevalent and painful manifestation of an eating disorder?
I received an email asking these questions and have posted it here. It outlines my experiences, places to go for help and tools to get you on the path to recovery and real help for binge eating.
Q: I read your story about your eating issues that you used to have and I am so proud of you! I can relate to you a lot. I was anorexic and then turned into a binge eater. I am currently struggling with binge eating. I feel so alone, even though I have told my family. did you feel alone during your eating issues? do you have any specific tools you used to recover from your eating disorder? I hope to hear back from you
I empathize with your binge eating struggle. This was the last frontier of my eating disorder and the hardest one to overcome. It is also the most frustrating because you dont end up fitting the “traditional” eating disorder definition and so it is difficult to seek and receive help.
The last 2 times that I was in an in patient clinic, it was due to my binge eating. And it was incredibly embarrassing to be there with girls who were anorexic and bulimic – I felt like I was a real outsider, that somehow I was a loser at even eating disorders!
However, this is not true, and just because this aspect of the disease is misunderstood, does not make it less valid or painful.
It is a real problem, a real disease and the suffering is incredible.
The feelings of isolation and loneliness that come with it are overwhelming, I can completely relate to that. Here is what helped me:
Finding other people who had been through the same thing and are now on the other side.
Finding a plan to treat the binge eating disorder – are you getting any treatment at the moment?
Shedding light on the disorder – are there people you can talk to about this who have had a similar experience?
Getting out of isolation – try to eat out with people as much as you can
Focus on recovery, not the problem. Do as much as you can to focus on where you want to be, the life that you want and ask for help to get there
The specific tools that I used to recover from my eating disorder were moving away from restrictive eating plans towards more intuitive eating. This is the basis of my recovery. I have another post dealing specifically with recovery from binge eating and the process of giving up the dieting and restriction mentality.
I now consider myself a “normal” eater, but I think that it is more popularly and professionally known as “intuitive eating”. There are some wonderful resources online that describe this approach.
I recently read an interview by a woman called Evelyn Tribole who discussed the principle behind Intuitive Eating and how it can help us get in tune with our bodies and let go of the guilt that surrounds our eating.
I also found it very helpful (and still do) to have a support network – people that I can talk to about the day to day issues that are going on in my life. I also wrote in a journal every day, writing out all of the stuff that was going around in my head. I still do this on a daily basis. I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day just purging my thoughts onto paper (or computer).
Have you recovered from binge eating or are currently seeking treatment? What tools have helped you overcome binge eating?
Please feel free to post any comments or questions about getting help for binge eating!