Binge eating disorder Treatment
Because of stereotypes, stigma, and the pressures of diet culture, many people mistakenly believe that it just takes willpower to overcome binge eating disorder (BED). This belief glosses over the fact that binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness that requires professional treatment. It also leaves countless people struggling alone, trying to “white knuckle” through recovery, and feeling like a failure when they can’t.  Just like any other eating disorder, binge eating disorder needs to be treated with multidisciplinary, evidence-based care that addresses all the aspects of the disease: physical, behavioral, emotional, psychological, and more. If you’re struggling with binge eating disorder, you can’t just decide to stop bingeing. You need treatment and support from eating disorder experts. The good news is that evidence-based binge eating disorder treatment exists, and lasting recovery is possible for anyone struggling with BED. Read on to learn the basics of BED, when to seek BED treatment for yourself or a loved one, and what BED treatment at Equip looks like. 
What is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder (BED), is an eating disorder that’s characterized by recurrent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food in a short period of time, known as binge eating or bingeing. While engaged in a binge, someone with BED often feels like they don’t have control over what they’re doing, and may even feel like they’re outside of their own body. Binges are almost invariably followed by intense feelings of guilt, shame, and other distressing emotions.  Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 2.8 million Americans. 
Common signs of BED
Consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time
  • Feeling out of control while eating
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Experiencing shame or guilt after eating
  • Preferring to eat alone, and feeling uncomfortable eating in front of others
  • Frequently dieting
  • Hiding or stealing food, or the evidence of food (wrappers, takeout containers, etc.)
  • Low self-esteem
What to expect in binge eating disorder treatment
The goals of binge eating disorder treatment are similar to the goals of treatment for other eating disorders: stopping disordered behaviors (in this case, binge eating), establishing a healthier relationship with food and body, and developing healthy coping techniques to replace disordered behaviors. Just like with treatment for anorexia and bulimia, the first step toward achieving those goals is to address the nutritional and behavioral aspects of the disorder. In the case of BED, this doesn’t just mean stopping binges—though that’s a big part of it—it also means eating regularly throughout the day. Because binges often occur after a period of restriction (a pattern known as the binge-restrict cycle), eating three meals and snacks throughout the day is vital to stopping the binge behavior.
What you might work on in therapy
Once a BED patient has normalized their eating habits and addressed any nutritional deficiencies, treatment can begin to focus on the psychological and emotional aspects of the eating disorder. This generally involves sessions with a therapist where you work toward different goals, such as: 
Pinpointing the psychological or emotional roots of your BED
Recognizing distorted thought patterns related to food and self-worth
Gaining stress management and coping skills beyond disordered eating habits
Recognizing and managing potential triggers
Making short- and long-term goals, both food and non-food related
Developing communication skills to improve relationships with your loved ones
Learning to ask for and receive the support you need
Treatment modalities we use at EquipThere’s not one standard therapeutic method used in binge eating disorder treatment. Ideally, care is tailored to each patient’s unique needs and challenges, with therapists adjusting their approach based on what’s working (and what’s not). Some of the evidence-based therapeutic modalities used to treat BED include:
CBT-E, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders, is an individualized therapy modality. It addresses the behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that are contributing to disordered eating patterns. 
DBT helps patients develop coping and emotional regulation skills so they don’t turn to disordered eating during difficult situations. To do this, it introduces a variety of different skills that fall under four different categories: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and relationship strengthening. The goal is to change thought patterns and behaviors connected to BED behaviors.
Exposure and response prevention refers to gradually being exposed to foods or food-related situations that would normally trigger disordered eating behaviors and working to address and overcome the negative thoughts that arise. In binge eating disorder treatment, this means slowly facing the triggers that contribute to binge eating.
FBT is a treatment modality primarily used for young people that’s based on the idea that a patient’s healthy loved ones are the people best-suited to help them recover. In FBT, loved ones—family, chosen family, or friends—are deeply involved in treatment, providing support and accountability and becoming educated themselves about eating disorders and how to support recovery. 
When to treat BED
Harmful, diet culture messaging around “willpower” and “discipline” can make people affected by binge eating disorder feel like they should just deal with it on their own. They may try, again and again, to “just stop” their binge eating behaviors, then feel shame, guilt, and low self-worth when they binge again. But this isn’t a failure: it’s the natural result of trying to treat a serious mental illness without the right support.  The reality is that if you or a loved one is struggling with binge eating disorder, you need help from eating disorder professionals in order to recover. No matter how long the binge behavior has been going on, or how frequently binges occur, don’t ignore your concerns. While recovery is possible for anyone struggling, early intervention is associated with better outcomes and an easier treatment journey.
Negative consequences of untreated BED
Seeking treatment early also helps you avoid some of the serious negative consequences of binge eating disorder, including: Social withdrawal and isolation that interferes with interpersonal relationships Medical conditions that can have a long-term impact on your body Decreased productivity and motivation at work, school, or home 
Co-occurring conditions
BED often co-occurs with other serious mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Nearly half of people who have been diagnosed with BED experience symptoms of at least one other mental disorder. Treating binge eating disorder alongside any other diagnosis will vastly improve your quality of life, and as the BED is addressed, symptoms of any other conditions may naturally begin to alleviate. 
Reaching out for help
Binge eating disorder doesn’t just go away, and it’s not feasible to treat on your own. If you’re struggling with binge eating, we recommend getting a professional assessment by your healthcare provider or an eating disorder expert as soon as you can. You can also schedule a free consultation with our team.
Take our interactive eating disorder screener
What does binge eating disorder treatment look like at Equip?
No two eating disorders are alike, and so care at Equip is personalized to each patient. When you come to Equip for BED treatment, we’ll assess your unique needs and challenges and create an evidence-based treatment plan that’s tailored to you. Throughout your recovery journey, you’ll get wraparound support from a dedicated 5-person treatment team.
The multidisciplinary team is comprised of:
Licensed therapist
You’ll work with a licensed therapist to address the emotional and psychological contributors to your binge eating disorder. They can help you determine the root issues behind the illness, identify triggers, and develop coping strategies. Through evidence-based treatment modalities, you’ll learn to adjust thought and behavior patterns that perpetuate the binge-restrict cycle.
Registered dietitian
Eating regular meals and snacks is a central part of binge eating disorder recovery. Throughout treatment, a registered dietitian will help you establish and maintain normalized eating habits, often through personalized meal plans and nutritional education. They can help with accountability and meal support, as well as challenging limiting beliefs you may have about food or your body.
Medical provider
Our medical providers include physicians, pediatricians, psychiatrists, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. Throughout treatment, your provider will address any physical complications from the BED, as well as monitor and treat any health challenges that arise on the road to recovery. They’ll also help manage any prescriptions you might need.
Peer mentor
One of the best motivators for continuing to work toward recovery is seeing someone who has done it themselves. At Equip, each patient is matched with a peer mentor who has been in your shoes and knows what you’re going through. They provide a listening ear and unconditional support, and serve as living proof that recovery is possible.
Family mentor
Family mentors are people who have seen their loved ones struggle with an eating disorder and helped them through recovery. They’re there to help your friends, family, or anyone else you bring into your treatment journey.
What to expect your first week and beyond
During your first week at Equip, you’ll meet with all of your team members, who will build the best treatment plan for you. At the beginning of treatment, you’ll meet with providers frequently, but sessions will gradually taper down as you make progress toward recovery. In addition to provider sessions, you and your loved ones will also have the opportunity to join BED-specific and other support groups. Throughout treatment, we continually assess what’s working and what’s not, and make sure that the care you’re receiving is always helping move you toward sustainable recovery.
Take the next step
Get in touch with our team today for more information on binge eating disorder treatment at Equip or to schedule a free consultation.