“I am out of control around food”
“I eat when I’m sad or angry. Then I get sad and angry about my eating”
“I’ve given up trying to take care of my body”
If these statements describe you, then you may be struggling with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or Compulsive Overeating. These conditions are very similar. However, compulsive overeating takes place throughout the day, whereas Binge Eating happens during short periods of time.
Binge Eating Disorder
BED is a term for when people have a tendency to eat very large amounts of food in very short time periods. Some people might plan for a binge, stocking up on favorite foods, and look forward to eating it. Others feel unexpectedly carried away by an overwhelming urge to eat.
In either case, people with BED often feel a great sense of shame and guilt about the binge. They may go to great lengths in order to hide it from other people and they may try to avoid thinking about it. Someone with binge eating disorder does not try to get rid of the calories in any particular way. They often make promises to themselves that they won’t do this again. Of course, without support and effective craving-management techniques, these end up being false starts. Ultimately, they only make the person with binge eating disorder feel worse.
Compulsive Overeating (CO)/Emotional Eating
Compulsive overeating, also known as emotional eating, is very similar to binge eating disorder. However, someone with compulsive overeating does not limit their food consumption to a discrete period of time (a binge). Rather than eating a great deal of food all at once, a person with emotional eating often eats large qualities of food throughout the day. Food may be used to numb feelings, soothe anxiety, or may serve any number of emotional purposes.
People with compulsive and emotional eating may yo-yo-diet. They may go through periods of time where they attempt, and even succeed, in losing weight. But because overeating helps them feel better, their issues with food always come back. Food will remain a problem until these emotions are discussed in therapy.
Understanding Binge Eating Disorder & Compulsive Overeating
There can be a lot of shame and guilt around binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating. But, it is important to know that there are biological reasons why some people struggle with these behaviors. One of these reasons is that humans aren’t used to having an unlimited amount of foods they want to eat available to them. Therefore when they see the food they want, they think they need to “get it now because they might not have another chance.” For others, their brain views food as a “reward.” When this happens, they are conditioned to want more of it. This can be especially true when they’ve gone through something that is emotionally challenging. The combination of genetics and life experiences cause some people to have a strong “eating disorder voice.” This voice makes it more likely they will binge eat or compulsively overeat.
These food behaviors often make people feel bad about themselves. So they may turn to food in order to soothe or numb their feelings of guilt and shame. This causes binge eating and compulsive overeating to become a vicious cycle: you feel bad about your eating, then eat more because you feel bad.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Over Eating
Physical Signs of Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating
- Weight gain
- Possible high weight
- Possible gastric rupture
- Mobility issues
Mental/Emotional Signs of Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating
Behavioral Signs of Binge Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating
- Avoiding doctors
- Avoiding exercise
- Spending a great deal of money on food
- Eating in secret
- Eating for emotional reasons
The Monarch Approach to Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Compulsive Overeating (CO)
Monarch therapists know how to break this cycle. We use evidence-based techniques to understand and fight the urges to overeat. Our compassionate team of therapists tailor their approach to each individual they see. We work to hard reduce shame and guilt by helping you to understand the very normal things that are causing you to overeat. Then, we give you real-world strategies for fighting food cravings and weathering emotional storms.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is focused on balancing accepting your eating disorder. DBT stresses having compassion for yourself as you are while challenging yourself to make changes in your behavior. It also offers concrete tools for managing strong feelings, improving relationships, and learning how to live in the present.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you to understand the thought patterns that keep you stuck in your eating disorder. You may have received messages that you aren’t good enough, or that it doesn’t matter how hard you try. You even might think, on some level, that you don’t deserve to be happier than you are. CBT helps you to discover and rewrite these damaging mental scripts.
Psychodynamic therapy understands our present as rooted in our past. A therapist works to help you to address issues from childhood and throughout your life that may play out in your relationship to food today. It isn’t uncommon for people with BED or CO to have dealt with some sense of deprivation or loss. By figuring out what drives the eating behavior, a psychodynamic therapist can help you to find healthier ways to meet your needs.
Healing from Binge Eating Disorder & Compulsive Overeating
After working with Monarch therapists, clients report feeling in control and on top of their lives. Our clients are able to feel joyful about what they eat because they eat what they truly want in a mindful way. They no longer feel guilt and fear about their eating. They extend compassion towards themselves and treat themselves like they matter. Don’t put your life on hold, reach out to us to begin treatment today.
Begin Eating Disorder Treatment in Washington DC:
If you are ready to gain control over your eating and learn healthy ways to cope with emotions that cause you distress, we can help. Our team of eating disorder therapists are ready to help you overcome binge eating and compulsive overeating. To begin counseling in Washington DC, please follow these steps:
- Contact our counseling clinic to learn more about eating disorder treatment for BED or CO and set up an appointment,
- Meet with one of our highly trained eating disorder therapists,
- Begin therapy and find power over binge eating or compulsive overeating.