National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

Understanding, Treating and Coping with Binge Eating Disorder

Chevese Turner, Founder, President & CEO, BEDA

In collaboration with the Eating Disorder Treatment Collaborative and special guest Chevese Turner, President, Founder and CEO of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), NEDA hosted the Beyond Hunger: Understanding, Treating & Coping with Binge Eating Disorder conference in honor of NEDAwareness Week 2016.

Chevese gave a comprehensive and powerful presentation on binge eating disorder (BED). We’ve excerpted some highlights of the presentation here, but you can download the full presentation, which includes her personal story and academic citations, here.

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?

  • Recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control
  • Marked distress, including feelings of guilt, embarrassment or disgust
  • Occurs on average once per week over three months
  • May binge alone to hide behaviors
  • Key features: secretive eating, excessive intake of food and rapid eating

Risk Factors for BED

  • Dieting
  • Neuropsychological and personality traits such as perfectionism, high harm avoidance and impulsivity
  • Early puberty
  • Co-morbidity: mood disorders, anxiety/OCD and ADD
  • Trauma, abuse or neglect
  • High BMI
  • Bullying, teasing, and weight stigma
  • History of significant weight changes
  • Substance abuse

Common Comorbidities

Medical:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Sleep deprivation

Psychiatric:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome

The Facts on BED

Prevalence:

  • 1-3% of children and adolescents
  • 2.5 – 5.5% of adults
  • Later average age of onset than other eating disorders (EDs)
  • More prevalent in males than other EDs (40%)
  • More prevalent in African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic communities
  • Often mis- or un-diagnosed
  • Patient often blamed for their disorder; “just stop eating” and “go on a diet”
  • BED is NOT the same as just overeating
  • BED occurs in people of all sizes
    • Normal-weight (19%)
    • Overweight (36%)
    • Obese (45%)

How Emotions Affect BED

  • Eat to stuff them down
  • Unresolved carried emotions are soothed through food
  • Body image impact - feeling heavier
  • Shame affects self esteem which affects motivation
  • “I will feel better about myself if I lose weight”

Treatment

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal behavioral therapy
  • Trauma – Somatic therapies & Internal Family Systems
  • Medications
  • Health at Every Size

What is Health at Every Size (HAES)?

  • Is NOT an excuse for being higher weight, obese, fat or a person-of-size
  • Is about overall health & wellness
  • Shift from oppression around body size and weight to focus on the pursuit of wellness that works for the individual and supports psychological health
  • Wide variety of food for nutrition, fuel and enjoyment
  • Movement that honors the body and is enjoyable, i.e. does not “punish”