If you’re struggling with binge eating, you may be feeling discomfort, embarrassment and shame. You may be focused on every little bite you take throughout the day…only to completely lose control and overeat at night. But here’s some good news: there is binge eater help available.
But if you’re a binge eater, help may not come in the form you’re expecting. A diet can’t fix binge eating. Willpower won’t fix it either. To truly heal from binge eating, you need to take a comprehensive look at the physical, emotional and psychological triggers for your overeating and create a personalized plan to overcome binge eating.
What Is Binge Eating?
Binge eating is typically described as consuming large amounts of food very quickly, even when not hungry and to the point of being uncomfortable. Binge eating goes beyond the occasional overeating that just about everyone does.
Many people looking for binge eater help are struggling with binge eating disorder, which was formally added to the DSM-5 in 2013 as a type of eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is characterized by not just overeating, but by feeling out of control when eating and experiencing shame or guilt because of the behavior. It must be diagnosed properly by a professional.
However, not all binge eaters fit the diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder. Binge eating can be a disordered behavior with food that an individual struggles with but does not necessarily have an eating disorder.
Wondering how to know if you’re a binge eater or are struggling with other forms of disordered eating? Let’s explore how binge eating compares.
Binge Eating vs Overeating
Overeating to some extent is totally normal. We’ve all had one too many pieces of pie on Thanksgiving or one too many slices of pizza on a night out with friends. But overeating is very different from true binge eating.
One of the biggest differences is that binge eating includes recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would normally eat. You're probably not doing that with holiday treats.
Binge Eating vs Emotional Eating
Similarly, binge eating and emotional eating are very similar challenges, and often do occur together. Many of us may turn to our favorite ice cream or snack at the end of a long day or to soothe us after heartbreak, stress or anxiety.
Emotional eating is an act of using food to cope with emotions. Many times we use food as an escape from emotions, and it can turn into a binge depending on the volume of food we eat.
Binge Eating vs Bulimia
Binge eating and bulimia are often thought of as one in the same, but they are actually very different challenges. While both binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa typically involve overeating, bulimia also includes periods of compensatory behavior that aims to make up for or off-set the damage done while bingeing.
Specifically, people with bulimia typically engage in periods of binge eating followed by behaviors such as purging, fasting or over-exercise.
How to Know If You’re a Binge Eater
If you’re reading this information, it’s probably because you’re wondering if you actually are a binge eater and are looking for binge eater help. So how can you know for sure? It all comes down to the symptoms you’re experiencing and how they are impacting your life.
Symptoms of Binge Eating
The two primary symptoms of binge eating are eating a larger than normal amount of food over a short period of time and feeling like this eating behavior is out of control
Typically, binge eating episodes also include at least a few of the following symptoms:
Feeling uncomfortably full
Eating faster than normal
Eating when not hungry
Feelings of guilt, disgust or shame
Eating alone or eating secretively
What Causes Binge Eating?
The first step toward getting binge eater help is to understand what causes binge eating in the first place. For most people, binge eating and/or binge eating disorder are caused by a number of genetic, psychological and cultural factors.
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There is some research speculating that binge eating disorder may have a genetic component.
Who we are raised by and their relationship with food can impact us. For example, having a mother who was always dieting or trying new weight loss programs. While this isn’t genetic on the molecular level, it is genetic in the sense of where you came from.
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Individuals with binge eating and/or binge eating disorder often struggle with other mental health diagnoses and challenges, including:
Negative body image
Mood and anxiety disorders
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While genetics and psychology certainly play a large role in the development of binge eating, we can’t forget about the impact of cultural influences.
Dieting and weight loss is often assumed to produce healthy living
Much of the messaging around dieting references a loss of control or lack of willpower
Toxic diet culture adds to the shame and embarrassment of binge eaters
Binge Eating Health Risks
For many, the urge to find binge eater help is based on a desire to resolve the negative emotions that come along with binge eating or a desire to lose weight. But there are physical health risks that can also be caused by binge eating. These include:
Binge eating often leads to weight cycling (frequent weight loss/regain), which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Binge eating can lead to heart disease because of weight cycling, but also because of bingeing on foods that are high in sugar, trans fats and sodium.
Type II Diabetes
Binge eating can disturb your glucose metabolism thanks to its abnormal eating patterns. These patterns may lead to type 2 diabetes.
While many people start binge eating as emotional eating, the lack of control over their food may make them feel guilt, shame and depression.
Binge Eater Help & Recovery Tips
So, if you’ve read through this guide and are realizing you need help to overcome binge eating, you’re likely wondering what kind of binge eater help is available.
But first, let’s stop you right there. You were about to search for a binge eating diet weren’t you? It can be tempting to find a diet or exercise regimen that will help you stop binge eating and start exercising. You tell yourself you’ll start on Monday or that this will be the last treat.
But it never happens that way, right? That’s because there’s no one-size-fits-all diet or meal plan that will magically cure your binge eating. Instead, healing from binge eating takes a personalized approach that identifies your binge eating triggers and comes up with sustainable strategies to combat them at the source.
Still, while there may not be a single or simple solution, there are plenty of ways to get binge eater help online today.
Explore Online Binge Eating Resources
From binge eating books, courses, podcasts and blogs there are countless resources available to help you learn more about binge eating and hear from others who have overcome it.
While listening to a podcast won’t replace the experience of working with a registered dietitian or eating disorder specialist, podcasts, books and other online resources can offer valuable information to help you start on the path to binge eating recovery.
And because many binge eating specialists provide these kinds of online resources, a podcast or course may also help you find someone to work within a one-on-one or group coaching setting.
Ready to start learning right now? Listen to my podcast, Nourished & Free. On the show, we discuss diet culture, food freedom, how to stop binge eating and many other anti-diet topics.
Work With a Binge Eating Dietitian
One of the best ways to take your binge eating recovery one step further is to work with a registered dietitian - especially if you can find a dietitian who is a binge eating coach.
Unlike other health coaches and nutritionists you might find online, registered dietitians have verified credentials. RDs must complete a bachelor’s degree full of nutritional sciences and biological course work, complete an advanced degree, finish 1200 hours of supervised work and take a board exam with only a 50% pass rate. Dietitians are also required to complete extensive continuing education to keep their credential.
This formal training is vital when it comes to binge eating recovery because what might work for one individual may be totally inappropriate or ineffective for another. By getting binge eater help from a registered dietitian, you can be confident your treatment is grounded in nutritional science and evidence-based approaches.
Join a Binge Eating Recovery Support Group
One of the best ways to overcome binge eating and break through the shame, guilt and embarrassment that often comes along with it is to connect with other people struggling with the same things.
When you join a binge eating recovery support group, you’ll quickly realize that you are not alone. And when the support group is led by a binge eating specialist, you can learn how to tune into what your body truly needs, listen to your body’s cues and break free from diet culture once and for all.
In my binge eating group coaching program, for example, we explore how to regulate our emotions (instead of eating them), work on detoxing from diet culture, prioritize self-care and self-love and learn sustainable ways to make movement and nutrition part of our daily lives.
With binge eater help from a registered dietitian and support from other members of the group coaching program, the majority of my students stop binge eating within one week of joining the program!
Ready to Get Started with Binge Eater Help?
If you’re ready to finally take back control of your health, find food freedom and feel better in your body, then now is the time to get started with a binge eating coach.
Now is the time to say no to toxic diet culture that makes you feel bad about your body or blames a lack of willpower for your health struggles.
Now is the time to say yes to more self-love, better body image and more confidence in your health decisions.