National Eating Disorders Association
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Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is more common than most people realize. In a culture obsessed with appearance, internalizing feelings of shame about body size and shape are all too common. The stereotypes and weight stigma associated with BED have a severe impact on both physical and mental health. To make matters worse, the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry works to further idealize the need to look a certain way and fosters patterns of disordered eating. The need for evidence-based treatments is key to effective, lasting BED recovery.

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Recovery doesn’t just happen. It’s also not some cliché buzzword tossed around to “inspire” you. Recovery is real. It’s not a luck-of-the-draw deal where you put your name in a hat and hope to be chosen. It’s a grueling, relentless, personal process that will push you beyond your limits over and over and over. Will you choose it?

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If you ask my friends in NYC to describe me, you’ll be painted a picture of a boss lady taking on the city as a full-time professor, writer, and consultant, in addition to being a fitness influencer. They’ll also tell you I’m a people person, excitable, and will always make time to help you move apartments and celebrate your birthday.   

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For many people, dieting begins with a promise of a new life with better health and a feeling of euphoric lightness. We learn implicitly and explicitly that we are more desirable when thin and that our lifestyle should be directed toward keeping the body within a very narrow definition of an acceptable and healthy-sized body. 

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Waking up at 2am thinking about food. Surfing the internet at work, looking up new recipes when you have a deadline coming up. Planning and stopping at fast food restaurants between every meal. 

This isn’t a buildup to a funny meme about loving food. This was my life until I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED) at 28 years old.

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From a young age I was taught to believe that thinner equaled better, and larger equaled lesser. My dance teachers reinforced this, my father reinforced this, and the media reinforced this. Eating disorders are typically associated with thinness, and while that can be some people’s experience, it is not everyone’s. Those of us who may not appear to have an eating disorder still have a valid struggle and it is important to talk about. It is important for our eating disorders to not be dismissed simply because of our size or the number on a scale.

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The use of food for emotional comfort is often normalized in our culture. It’s very common to see TV shows or movies portraying actresses drowning their sorrows after a breakup by eating a tub of ice cream or an entire box of chocolates. That tells us that it’s acceptable to use food to cope with difficult emotions. For some people, that may be effective and not seem problematic, but it’s far more complicated for someone with an eating disorder. 

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Melinda developed an eating disorder while she served in the military from 2003-2008. When she met her husband Jim several years later, she was still battling binge eating disorder and bulimia. They’ve coped as a couple as Melinda began her recovery for her eating disorder.

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Something that really bothers me is when people say, “I'm going to binge-watch this show all weekend.” Although the word binge means to indulge in an activity to excess, there is a significant difference between binge eating and watching an entire season of a new Netflix show in one sitting. As someone who has a history of binge eating disorder, those comments feel insensitive.

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The holidays can be a challenging time of year for many people. Some get stressed out because they’re hosting, some are anxious because of the time with family or being around a lot of people. Others may have a really hard time being around so much food or alcohol since both of those tend to be cultural aspects of the holiday season. 

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