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Binge eating and nutrition therapy

Do you lose all control in the presence of certain foods? Do you eat until you are uncomfortably full or even when you’re not hungry? Have you been diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder – BED? If any of these are yes, this article is for you.

BED is a diagnosis that generally requires help from dietitians and therapists working together to help overcome and develop a healthier, more freeing relationship with food. If left untreated, it can impact many aspects of a person’s health. BED is associated with weight problems, body-image problems, guilt and shame around food, sleep problems, chronic-pain conditions, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. In women it’s also associated with risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complication, and the development of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Many therapy modalities can help you overcome BED and get set up on the right path. Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Interpersonal Psychotherapy from a licensed mental health practitioner have been shown being the most successful. In my experience, these therapy modalities alongside nutrition guidance will bring more healing to the mental health and overall body health of the client.

Here is where to start your journey if you are ready to heal your binge eating disorder:

  • First: Find support through a licensed therapist who has experience in working with CBT or IPT. These techniques can be more effective to your long-term success and health long term than most other alternatives. Addressing the mental health side of why you are experiencing binge-eating episodes is a strong first step. Almost 80% of those suffering from BED have an accompanying phobia or psychological disorder such PTSD, depression, bipolar or anxiety.
  • Second: Next, reach out to a licensed dietitian with experience working with clients dealing with BED. Hint … they should be focusing on much more than just weight loss. In years of working with BED clients, I’ve found that the extra weight is a byproduct of the disorder, not the cause. In other words, losing weight is not going to fix this and make it go away.

So what will?

The nutrition plan shouldn’t be a strict weight loss plan, which has been shown to exacerbate the overall negative food relationship these clients are dealing with and is usually not sustainable unless Step 1 is also addressed. Losing weight doesn’t help the biological processes that take place with binge eating or the shaming or guilt that many times come along with it. In addition, BED sufferers have a more sensitive dopamine response to food, leaving them more unsatisfied and seeking out more food – especially fast-acting carbohydrates (think cookies, cakes, crackers, sugary drinks). Instead, the goal of the nutrition plan should be to feed the body healthy nutrients to balance your hunger hormones throughout the day and keep you feeling more satisfied with every healthy meal and snack.

BED is a difficult disorder that many are dealing with daily. If this is you or someone you know, there is hope through CBT/IPT and nutrition therapy to improve your health and mental game around food. There’s a life on the other side waiting for you in which you not only feel better about yourself, but experience fewer to no binge-eating episodes, freedom in the presence of food, healthier hunger and satiety hormones levels, and sleep and feel better.

Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, specializing in using digestive wellness to prevent or manage chronic disease. She has a master’s degree in nutrition, is a personal health coach, speaker, and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or fran@fransutherlin.com.