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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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How to find a binge eating disorder treatment plan

Treatment plans for binge eating disorder (BED)—or other eating disorders and mental health conditions—are generally created by a care provider and patient together, once a patient is admitted to a care facility or enters into treatment.

To find the best binge eating disorder treatment plan for you, you should speak with your doctor, therapist, or another medical professional. Your health insurance company may also be able to point you in the direction of a specialist or program that will help you develop a personalized binge eating treatment plan.

Still, there are some clinically-tested ideas about BED and eating disorder treatment that can work to build a broad outline for optimal care. For information sharing purposes, here are some considerations to keep in mind.

Last updated on 
September 20, 2023
January 25, 2024
Binge eating disorder treatment
In this article
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How to treat binge eating disorder

The best strategy for treating binge eating disorder depends on several factors.

One of the biggest influences on recommended treatment is the severity of symptoms. Different types or intensities of therapy may be more helpful at different points in the recovery journey.

Several levels of care have been developed to address these varying needs, each with their own treatment goals for binge eating disorder.

Inpatient treatment
Residential treatment
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP)
Outpatient treatment
woman looking for food in refrigerator

Effective binge eating therapy options

By some estimates, BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States.13 As such, how to treat binge eating disorder has become a much-studied topic, with several therapeutic methods found to be particularly helpful.

binge eating therapies graphic
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
Guided self-help
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
Exposure therapy
Group therapy
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)

Nutrition counseling and meal support for BED

In many cases, the disordered eating patterns involved with BED can lead to additional health complications. That's why nutrition support, education, and therapy for overeating is common when treating BED.

Nutrition counseling is a multidisciplinary approach incorporating dietitians, therapists, and physicians.9 It often helps individuals learn more about the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the body needs to remain healthy. It can also teach those with BED healthy eating habits that can help them not only avoid binge eating episodes, but some of the physical consequences brought on by that behavior.

Specifically, blood sugar levels can be greatly improved with healthier eating habits. This can have a powerful effect on many other internal systems and functions.9

As many people with BED have an unhelpful history with dieting, nutritional counseling generally avoids the kind of tips aimed at losing or controlling weight. Rather, the emphasis is on building an overall healthier relationship with food and eating.

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group in circle looking at shoes

Other types of treatment for binge eating disorder

When building a treatment plan for binge eating disorder, patients may also want to consider a broader range of therapy options, techniques, and other binge eating disorder treatments.

Art therapy

Creative self-expression can help individuals living with BED engage with difficult emotions and gain new perspectives by encouraging them to bypass the more reasoning-based side of the brain and tap into more abstract, subconscious thinking.16

Externalizing these thoughts through a variety of artistic media can also help someone understand their emotional state in a different way, which may lead to further breakthroughs.16

Mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT)

Mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT), which combines mindful eating with mindfulness strategies, has shown promise in treating BED.10

Using mindfulness techniques, people with BED learn to become more in tune with the needs and rhythms of their body, helping them understand their natural hunger cues. This can help them go on to better recognize and more easily change problematic eating behaviors.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy

The goal of psychodynamic psychotherapy is helping someone cultivate greater understanding and self-awareness around how past experiences work to influence present behavior.17

The therapy revolves around the idea that behaviors associated with a mental health disorder manifest as a result of unresolved conflicts and dysfunctional relationships. Understanding this throughline is presented as a way to help someone better understand and address their disordered thoughts and behaviors.17

Treating binge eating disorder at Within Health

Here at Within Health, we understand the importance of treating each patient as an individual. Our personalized treatment plans for clients are designed to help a person to explore their relationship with themselves, their bodies, and food.

Our treatment program for BED has three levels of care—partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), and outpatient—and each client is carefully assessed to determine the appropriate treatment.

86%

of those who complete our treatment program report reduced eating disorder symptoms

The Within results

You’re much more than numbers on a scale, so we don’t use them. There will be no calorie counting, weight measurements, or any other numbers involved. Instead, we focus on an intuitive eating model to counteract the misguided beliefs that come from diet culture, as well as relearning to recognize internal cues of satiety and hunger.

We recognize that it’s hard asking for help for BED and hope you’re reassured that through every step of treatment with Within Health, you’re met with compassion, respect, and empathy. We are proud to offer a safe space and support to any gender identity, ethnicity, sexuality, shape, and size.


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. Pagán, C. N. (n.d.). Inpatient care for binge eating. WebMD. Accessed July 2023.
  2. Peckmezian, T., & Paxton, S. J. (2020). A systematic review of outcomes following residential treatment for eating disorders. European Eating Disorders Review, 28(3), 246–259.
  3. Dindo, L., Van Liew, J. R., & Arch, J. J. (2017). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Transdiagnostic Behavioral Intervention for Mental Health and Medical Conditions. NeuroTherapeutics, 14(3), 546–553.
  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy. (2013, August 7). Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Accessed July 2023.
  5. Treatment - Binge eating disorder. National Health Services. Accessed July 2023. 
  6. LaJuenesse, S. (2023, April 5). Exposure therapy to feared foods may help kids with eating disorders. Pennsylvania State University. Accessed September 2023.
  7. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). (2022, April 19). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed July 2023. 
  8. Binge eating disorder. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed July 2023.
  9. An introduction to nutritional therapy. (2018, February 21). National Eating Disorders Association. Accessed July 2023.
  10. Kristeller J, Wolever R, Sheets V. (2013). Mindfulness-based eating awareness training (MB-EAT) for binge eating: A randomized clinical trial. Mindfulness, 5(3), 282-297.
  11. Taulli, T., Gomez, I. (2022, September 1). How a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) Works for Mental Health Treatment. GoodRx. Accessed July 2023.
  12. Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. (2006). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed July 2023.
  13. Definition & Facts for Binge Eating Disorder. (2021, May). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed July 2023.
  14. Grenon, R., Schwartze, D., Hammond, N., Ivanova, I., Mcquaid, N., Proulx, G., & Tasca, G. A. (2017). Group psychotherapy for eating disorders: A meta-analysis. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50(9), 997–1013.
  15. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Binge Eating Disorder. (n.d.). Society of Clinical Psychology. Accessed July 2023. 
  16. Dresden, D. (2020, September 29). What is art therapy, and how does it work? Medical News Today. Accessed July 2023. 
  17. Chapter 7—Brief Psychodynamic Therapy. (n.d.). Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Accessed July 2023.
  18. Guerdjikova, A. I., Mori, N., Casuto, L. S., & McElroy, S. L. (2016). Novel pharmacologic treatment in acute binge eating disorder - role of lisdexamfetamine. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 833–841.

FAQs

Is there a cure for binge eating disorder?

As with most other eating disorders and mental health conditions, BED is generally considered chronic, meaning there is no permanent cure. The combination of psychological and physiological conditions that result in BED tend to remain in the brain and body, even after successful treatment, leaving open the possibility of relapse.8

Rather than focus on curing binge eating disorder, treatments for BED focus on the idea of ongoing recovery. And happily, with the right kind of management strategies, symptoms often go into long-term remission.

What’s the most effective treatment for binge eating disorder?

How to treat binge eating disorder most effectively depends on a number of personal factors, including someone's health history and severity of symptoms.

In general, cognitive behavioral therapy is widely considered the leading treatment for BED and other disordered eating conditions. Some types of medication may also be helpful, especially when combined with therapy.

But ultimately, the best treatment for binge eating disorder, including the best type of binge eating disorder counseling, should be determined between a patient and their doctor or treatment team.

Can you recover from binge eating disorder on your own?

Yes. It may be possible to reduce binge eating episodes and other symptoms of BED through guided self-help programs. 

Still, this type of eating disorder treatment plan is best for people with mild to moderate symptoms, and generally best for those without co-occurring mental health conditions.

If your symptoms continue or get worse while using guided self-help, it may be time to speak with a therapist or other medical professional.

Can you treat binge eating disorder with medication?

Yes. A type of amphetamine called lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse) has been approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of binge eating disorder. Several other types of medications—especially certain antidepressants—are also sometimes used to help address symptoms of BED.18

These medications are only available through prescription, and should only be used as directed by your doctor or health care provider.

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