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Besides visiting a psychologist what are effective ways to treat binge eating disorder?

By Anonymous March 10, 2011 - 2:06pm
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Are there any personal treatments that can be used to overcome binge eating disorder? I will eat well and exercise well for a couple months. I know I feel so much better when I take care of my body. Then something will trigger an emotion (perhaps due to stress ) and I'll start eating incessantly. This will continue for 3-4 weeks until food doesn't even taste as good. I feel sloth-like and don't want to do anything. I know it's not healthy for my body, and I'm tired of falling into this same pattern. It's been years of this back and forth between a healthy lifestyle and detrimental behavior, but I've done a lot of self-evaluation to try to figure out what the underlying cause could be. I am genuinely happy, but when I binge eat I do feel sad, which logically should be even more reason for me not to succumb to these behaviors. I have been to a counselor before, but I didn't feel as though it was helpful. I am thinking about going back because I don't want binge eating to be a part of my life any longer.

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In addition to the great information Maryann provided, the next step (after identifying the problem, and having motivation to change) is to figure out what the triggers are to the unhealthy behavior.

The original poster said she does great...until she has stress or another bad emotion. I think that describes most people...you are not alone! It's "easy" to be healthy and make all the right choices when things are going great. What takes learning and practice is to continue making good, healthy choices when things aren't going so great.

If you know your triggers are related to emotions that are difficult to deal with (sadness, loneliness, excess stress), make a plan to learn effective coping strategies. You can read books, talk with teachers, co-workers, friends, relatives, coaches...everyone has different ideas of "effective, healthy coping strategies", and you need to begin trying out different techniques while things are GOOD...so that they are a habit when things are going bad.

Coping strategies fall into two main categories: emotion-focused and problem-focused. You can read more about these differences in my response to this question: Is venting to a friend about a problem healthy?.

Coping techniques can include various activities, depending on what the trigger is, and what makes you feel good and healthy. Examples can be calling a certain friend or relative (venting), engaging in an activity you love (dancing, art, exercise), doing something rewarding (spring cleaning), doing something for another person (volunteering), joining a support group...the list goes on!

I am also interested in hearing back from the second poster, as she said she was going to talk with a therapist. I would love to hear the update!

Lastly, please know that eating disorders are conditions that do need to be treated by a professional. If you are actively binging, binging and purging or restricting your diet...please talk with a professional psychologist. Some women engage in emotional eating, and finding healthier coping techniques can work. However, if a woman has a diagnosable eating disorder, a professional can help. It may take meeting with a few different professionals until you find one whom you "click" with; it is akin to a relationship and you need to find someone you trust and have a rapport with.

Please let us know how you are doing!

April 21, 2011 - 11:28am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Anonymous,

I'm looking online for the answer to the question that you have. I have gone through the same cycle you explained above for so many years. I am currently in a down slope and can relate exactly to what you said.

The feeling of overeating or eating things I know aren't what would be in my normal diet isso bazzar. As Maryann explained above, food is the thing that makes us "happy" and yet its the same things that makes us "unhappy."

I've heard to take a walk, or try and exercise when I get these feelings, but its often after I'm done eating recklessesly for a few days that I get the feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

I am going to talk to a therapist to try and find some suggestions to help me. If I get anything worthwhile, I'll come backon here and share.

April 20, 2011 - 9:55am

Hi Anonymous,
As with any detrimental behavior whether it be binge eating, smoking or drinking, in order to stop, you need to recognize the problem and want to change. You have done this and are on the right track. As you say, staying on the right track of healthy eating has been a challenge.
Here is the link to a number of articles on binge eating. I read the first one and I think you might find it helpful.
I'm wondering if a support group for binge eating disorder might give you the support necessary to overcome this disorder. A counselor with expertise in eating disorders may help you find ways to cope with emotions in healthier ways than overeating.
I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor, but food seems to be the source of comfort when you are distressed and yet it becomes the source of distress when you get in the pattern of overeating. I think the key is in finding other ways of coping with or finding comfort when you are under stress. I hope all of this can help you in some way.

March 10, 2011 - 5:30pm
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