Happy Inner Self

Understanding and Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder: Treatment Options and Resources

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting both women and men, as well as adolescents. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 1.6% of adolescents in the country suffer from this condition.

While it has gained more recognition in recent years and has been classified as an official diagnosis, there is still much to understand about BED.

Prevalence and Classification

BED has gained attention as the most common eating disorder, surpassing anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. It is estimated that over 6 million adults in the United States are affected by this disorder.

The National Eating Disorders Association reports that approximately 1 in every 20 individuals will experience BED at some point in their lives. Despite its high prevalence, BED was only recently recognized as an official diagnosis.

In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), BED was included as a distinct diagnosis. This change helps raise awareness and promotes better understanding and treatment options for individuals with BED.

Distress and Medical Issues

BED is not just about consuming large quantities of food. It is also associated with emotional distress and physical health problems.

The emotional distress experienced by individuals with BED includes feelings of guilt, shame, and loss of control. This can greatly impact their quality of life and overall well-being.

In addition to the emotional distress, there are also various medical issues associated with BED. These include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems, and sleep apnea.

In extreme cases, individuals with BED may experience an increased mortality rate due to these health complications.

Psychological Therapy

The first-line treatment for BED is psychological therapy, which has been shown to be effective in reducing binge eating episodes and improving overall psychological well-being. Individual psychological therapy is often recommended, and various approaches can be utilized.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used therapies for treating BED. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to binge eating.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and increasing support systems. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) incorporates concepts of mindfulness and emotion regulation to help individuals manage their emotions and cope with stress.

Psychoeducation, mindfulness, self-monitoring, and cognitive restructuring are common techniques used in psychological therapy to aid individuals in managing their binge eating behaviors. Developing regular eating patterns and avoiding dietary restriction are also vital in overcoming BED.

Coping skills and relapse prevention strategies are often taught to help individuals maintain their progress beyond therapy sessions.

Other Psychotherapies and Medications

In addition to psychological therapy, other psychotherapies have been found to be helpful in treating BED. Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) combines elements of mindfulness and self-compassion to address the underlying emotions and stressors that contribute to binge eating.

Family therapy and group therapy can also provide individuals with BED a supportive environment where they can share their experiences and learn from others facing similar challenges. In some cases, medication may be prescribed alongside psychotherapy to assist in the treatment of BED.

Antidepressants, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), have shown promise in reducing binge eating episodes and improving mood. Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine), a medication typically used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of BED.

However, it is important to note that medications may have potential adverse side effects and should be prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional.


In conclusion, BED is a prevalent and distressing condition that can have serious medical consequences. Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy, are the mainstay of treatment for BED.

Other psychotherapies, such as mindfulness-based eating awareness training, family therapy, and group therapy, can also be beneficial. Medications, specifically antidepressants and Vyvanse, may also be prescribed to assist in the treatment of BED.

It is important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional if you or a loved one is struggling with BED.

3) Self-Help and Guided Self-Help

Despite the prevalence of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), there is a treatment gap and a limited availability of therapists specialized in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for this disorder. This gap has led to the development and implementation of self-help and guided self-help treatments, which aim to provide support and resources to individuals struggling with BED.

Treatment Gap and Limited Availability of Therapists

Traditionally, psychological therapy, particularly CBT, has been the recommended treatment for BED. However, due to the limited number of therapists specializing in BED and the associated high costs, many individuals do not have access to these treatments.

The shortage of trained professionals further exacerbates the discrepancy between the number of people seeking help and the available resources. Recognizing this treatment gap, researchers and clinicians have developed self-help and guided self-help treatments as alternatives for individuals who are unable to access or afford traditional therapy.

These treatments aim to empower individuals with the knowledge and tools necessary to manage and overcome their binge eating behaviors. Self-help treatments typically involve the use of written materials, workbooks, online resources, and mobile applications that guide individuals through various strategies and exercises.

These materials may cover topics such as understanding the underlying causes of binge eating, challenging negative thoughts and emotions, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and establishing regular eating patterns. Guided self-help treatments, on the other hand, involve more structured guidance and support from a healthcare professional, such as a therapist or counselor.

This may include regular check-ins, personalized feedback, and assistance in setting goals and implementing strategies. Guided self-help can be delivered via phone, email, or secure online platforms.

Both self-help and guided self-help treatments have shown promising results in reducing binge eating episodes, improving eating behaviors, and enhancing overall psychological well-being. These treatments provide individuals with a greater sense of control over their recovery journey while promoting self-reflection and self-growth.

Nutritional Counseling

In addition to psychological therapy, nutritional counseling can also be a valuable component of treatment for BED. A professional counselor or registered dietitian can provide guidance and support in developing healthy eating habits and avoiding binge eating triggers.

Nutritional counseling focuses on educating individuals about essential nutrients, portion control, and balanced eating. It aims to create a positive relationship with food, where individuals learn to nourish their bodies and find enjoyment in eating without resorting to binging behaviors.

One of the main goals of nutritional counseling is to address any underlying nutrient deficiencies that may contribute to binge eating tendencies. By ensuring individuals are receiving adequate nutrition, the likelihood of experiencing intense cravings and urges to binge may be reduced.

This approach emphasizes the importance of a well-rounded diet, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. While weight loss may be a concern for individuals with BED, the primary focus of treatment should be on reducing binge eating behavior rather than achieving weight loss.

Nutritional counseling approaches weight-related discussions with sensitivity, aiming to promote body acceptance and self-compassion. The goal is to help individuals develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies, rather than adhering to restrictive diets that may exacerbate the disorder.

Concerns About Weight Loss Treatments

It is important to note that weight loss is not the primary goal or indicator of successful treatment for BED. Instead, the focus is on reducing binge eating behaviors, improving emotional well-being, and promoting overall health.

Attempts at weight loss can be detrimental to individuals with BED, as they may exacerbate the disorder and entrench unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior. Engaging in strict dieting and intense exercise regimens can lead to a cycle of binge eating followed by intense shame and guilt, perpetuating the binge-restrict cycle.

Moreover, research has shown that weight loss attempts often result in weight gain over the long term, leading to further distress and feelings of failure. This weight cycling can have significant physical and psychological consequences, including increased risk for metabolic disorders, negative body image, and decreased self-esteem.

Instead of focusing on weight loss, treatment for BED should emphasize acceptance of one’s body and the development of a healthy relationship with food. Embracing a non-diet approach, individuals can learn to listen to their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues, respect their own unique genetic makeup, and let go of the constant pursuit of weight loss.


Self-help and guided self-help treatments offer valuable alternatives to traditional therapy for individuals struggling with BED. They bridge the treatment gap by providing readily accessible resources and support for those who may not have access to therapists specialized in CBT.

Nutritional counseling also plays a crucial role in addressing the essential dietary needs of individuals with BED and promoting a healthy relationship with food. Additionally, it is vital to shift the focus away from weight loss and instead concentrate on reducing binge eating behaviors and promoting overall well-being.

5) How to Find Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with Binge Eating Disorder (BED), it is essential to seek appropriate treatment. Many resources are available to help individuals find the support they need, including directories, specialists, and online therapy options.

NEDA Directory and Specialists

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a valuable resource that provides information and support for individuals with eating disorders, including BED. One of the key features offered by NEDA is their online directory, which allows individuals to search for treatment providers in their area who specialize in eating disorders.

The directory provides an extensive list of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and dietitians who have experience and expertise in treating BED. It is an excellent starting point for individuals seeking professional help, as it provides a comprehensive list of specialists who understand the unique challenges associated with this disorder.

When searching for a specialist, it is important to consider their qualifications, experience, and approach to treatment. Look for professionals who have specific training in the treatment of eating disorders, particularly BED.

They should be knowledgeable about evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and have a compassionate and understanding approach towards their clients.

Guided Self-Help and Online Therapy Options

In cases where access to local specialists is limited or not available, guided self-help and online therapy options can be valuable alternatives. Guided self-help treatments, as discussed earlier, involve using materials, workbooks, and online resources to guide individuals through the recovery process.

These self-guided programs can be completed at one’s own pace and provide structure and support for individuals working towards overcoming BED. Online therapy has gained popularity in recent years, providing individuals with the convenience and accessibility of seeking treatment from the comfort of their homes.

Many therapists and mental health professionals now offer online counseling services, including support for BED. Online therapy sessions can be conducted via video calls, chat platforms, or email exchanges, allowing individuals to connect with professionals regardless of their geographical location.

While online therapy can be an effective option, it is important to ensure that the therapist or counselor is qualified and experienced in treating BED. Look for professionals who have the necessary credentials and experience, and consider reading reviews or seeking recommendations from trusted sources.

6) Summary and


Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious condition that can have significant consequences on an individual’s emotional and physical health. It can disrupt daily life, cause distress, and lead to a range of medical issues if left untreated.

Seeking diagnosis and appropriate treatment is crucial for individuals struggling with BED. Getting a diagnosis involves consulting with a healthcare professional who specializes in eating disorders.

This could be a therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a healthcare provider trained in treating BED. A thorough evaluation will help determine the presence of BED and any co-occurring conditions, facilitating the development of an individualized treatment plan.

Treatment for BED primarily includes psychological therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. These therapies focus on identifying triggers, developing coping mechanisms, and establishing healthier eating behaviors.

Nutritional counseling and support from a registered dietitian can also play a vital role in supporting individuals in their recovery journey. In cases where access to specialists is limited, resources such as the NEDA directory can help individuals find professionals who specialize in BED.

Additionally, guided self-help programs and online therapy options offer alternatives to traditional therapy for those who may not have access to local specialists. Remember, seeking help for BED is a courageous step towards healing.

With the right support and guidance, individuals can overcome their struggles, develop a healthier relationship with food, and improve their overall well-being. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a prevalent and distressing condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment.

Self-help and guided self-help treatments, alongside traditional therapy, have emerged as alternatives to address the treatment gap and limited availability of specialized therapists. Nutritional counseling plays a crucial role in establishing healthy eating habits and avoiding triggers.

It is essential to shift the focus from weight loss to reducing binge eating behaviors in order to achieve long-term recovery. Resources such as the NEDA directory and online therapy options can help individuals find appropriate treatment.

Seeking help and receiving a diagnosis is the first step towards recovery, and with the right support, individuals can overcome BED and improve their overall well-being. Remember, you are not alone on this journey towards finding peace with food and yourself.

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