What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge Eating Disorder involves eating large amounts of food at one time for emotional reasons. Many people “graze” throughout the day, eating small amounts, but too many calories over time. Other people are “good” all week, and then “go for broke” on the weekends. People overeat in many ways that don’t always involve bingeing.
The key aspects of binge eating disorder are the overeating, and the use of food to self-soothe. These are the symptoms that are addressed in therapy.
What is Food Addiction?
Food addiction is a term that has recently become popular. You can’t actually become addicted to food, since food is something we must have to survive. But people can feel addicted to food. For example, you eat one chocolate chip cookie and then find yourself unable to resist eating the rest of them until the whole plate is finished off. That sounds like addiction! It feels like you just can’t stop.
Food addiction and anxiety go hand-in-hand. When you feel uncomfortable for some reason, a cookie can help. Then you become anxious when you realize the soothing that comes from eating the cookie is very short-lived. You counteract that anxiety by having another, and then another and another. You worry that if you stop, you will go back to feeling bad.
The Myth of Willpower
You may want to believe that willpower will solve the problems of binge eating or food addiction. You hope that if you muster up your willpower on Monday morning and keep it going, you will get your eating under control, lose all the weight you would like to lose, and your whole life will be better. It seems simple.
Think of the total number of pounds you have lost this way over the years—You have proven to yourself that you have tremendous willpower. So why do you, as well as 95% of all dieters, regain the weight?
It is hard to admit that bingeing is a complex problem. You may be aware that your food addiction counteracts stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and loneliness. You may be rebelling against tremendous pressure to lose weight from family members, society, and even yourself. Depriving yourself of food may feel scary and impossible to maintain. Losing weight may present you with a new set of problems you didn’t expect. You may find yourself questioning the amount of energy you expend on losing weight and coping with plateaus and rebounds.
Recovery begins when you acknowledge that willpower has not worked. When you give up the myth of willpower as a solution, you are in a better position to find more effective, long-lasting solutions to binge eating and food addiction. You are free to listen to your body and use your feelings to find a pathway toward healing.
Not convinced yet? Read my favorite book on the topic: The Diet Survivor’s Handbook, by Judith Matz.
How I can help:
Join my women’s therapy group for binge eating disorder treatment.
Private individual or family sessions are available for men, women, adolescent boys and girls who have binge eating disorder or food addiction.