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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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Binge eating recovery

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States, characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time and accompanied by a lack of self-control during these episodes.1 And the condition can be dangerous if left untreated.

Thankfully, several therapies have been found to help people overcome binge eating disorder and develop a happier and healthier relationship with food and themselves.

Last updated on 
January 9, 2024
Binge eating recovery
In this article

What causes binge eating disorder?

Like all mental health conditions, binge eating disorder is caused by a number of interlocking psychological, physiological, and environmental factors.

Some of the most common contributing factors include:3,5

  • Biological factors, including a family history of disordered eating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Negative body image
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • History of dieting or frequent dieting

In general, individuals who suffer from BED tend to also struggle with emotional regulation, which often leads to using food as a coping mechanism for dealing with negative emotions.4 This “emotional eating” can create a cycle where the person binges to cope with negative emotions but then experiences guilt and shame after the binge, which further exacerbates their emotional distress.6

Behavioral factors in BED include the development of unhealthy eating patterns, such as restrictive dieting or skipping meals, which can increase the risk of binge eating episodes.7 Additionally, individuals with BED may have difficulty recognizing and responding to hunger and fullness cues, leading to a loss of control over eating.8

Binge eating recovery includes learning how to handle and manage these triggers while ultimately establishing a balanced relationship with food again.

Binge eating recovery

What is binge eating disorder recovery?

Binge eating disorder is a serious mental illness, and like many disorders of this type, recovery is often not a straightforward process. Still, recovery is entirely possible.

The journey looks different for everyone, but it nearly always involves cultivating an inward sense of peace and acceptance and learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions in healthier and more helpful ways.

With the help of a treatment team, many people who struggle with BED are capable of making a full recovery.1 Some common treatments for binge eating disorder recovery include:13

The specifics of recovery from binge eating disorder can look different for each individual, as it involves addressing the unique psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of the eating disorder.2 However, in general, being in recovery from binge eating disorder means the individual is no longer actively participating in disordered eating practices and may have successfully completed an eating disorder treatment program.

Binge Eating Recovery Tips

If you or a loved one are looking to stop binge eating or pursue binge eating recovery, it's important to consult with medical professionals. Eating disorders are complex conditions that often require a multi-faceted and personalized approach to treatment.

Still, some tips may help you or a loved one maintain healthier thoughts and habits throughout the recovery process.

Work on a binge eating recovery meal plan
Practice new ways to manage emotions
Look into aftercare support
At Within, we offer an alumni program to help with aftercare and support you in your lifelong recovery journey from eating disorders like binge eating disorder.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Definition & Facts for Binge Eating Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed December 2023.
  2. Springer, Cham., Fairburn, C. G. (2017). Cognitive behavior therapy and eating disorders. Guilford Publications.
  3. Fairburn, C. G., & Harrison, P. J. (2003). Eating disorders. The Lancet, 361(9355), 407–416. 
  4. Dingemans, A. E., & van Furth, E. F. (2011). Binge eating disorder psychopathology in normal weight and obese individuals. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(1), 135–138. 
  5. Binge eating disorder. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Accessed December 2023.
  6. Mason, T. B., & Lewis, R. J. (2014). Profiles of binge eating: the interaction of depressive symptoms, eating styles, and body mass index. Eating disorders, 22(5), 450–460.
  7. Stice, E., Davis, K., Miller, N. P., & Marti, C. N. (2008). Fasting increases risk for onset of binge eating and bulimic pathology: A 5-year prospective study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(4), 941–946. 
  8. Sysko, R., & Walsh, B. T. (2008). A critical evaluation of the efficacy of self-help interventions for the treatment of bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 41(2), 97–112. 
  9. Voderholzer, U., Haas, V., Correll, C. U., & Körner, T. (2020). Medical management of eating disorders: an update. Current opinion in psychiatry, 33(6), 542–553.
  10. Linardon, J. (2018). The relationship between dietary restraint and binge eating: Examining eating-related self-efficacy as a moderator. Appetite, 127, 126–129.
  11. Linardon, J., de la Piedad Garcia, X., & Brennan, L. (2017). Predictors, Moderators, and Mediators of Treatment Outcome Following Manualised Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders: A Systematic Review. European eating disorders review: the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 25(1), 3–12.
  12. Grilo, C. M., Masheb, R. M., & Crosby, R. D. (2012). Predictors and moderators of response to cognitive behavioral therapy and medication for the treatment of binge eating disorder. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 80(5), 897–906.
  13. Binge eating disorder. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed December 2023.

FAQs

What is binge eating recovery?

Being in binge eating recovery means you are actively working on healing from your eating disorder.

Is it normal to binge eat in anorexia recovery?

It is not uncommon for individuals recovering from anorexia nervosa to experience episodes of binge eating. These episodes can be a part of the recovery process as the body and mind adjust to a healthier eating pattern.

What does recovery from binge eating disorder look like?

Recovery from binge eating disorder (BED) is a gradual process that involves various stages and requires a combination of treatments to address the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of the disorder. This may include developing a meal plan, learning new coping strategies, and undergoing aftercare support with therapy.

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