5 steps to help overcome binge eating

With binge-eating disorder syndrome set to enter the next revised version of the DSM, and a whopping 63% of you saying you would participate in a binge eating recovery program, this is clearly a topic we need to talk about. The Mayo Clinic defines binge eating as "a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food." But this is more that just overeating when you're presented with a plate of French fries. Binge eating disorder is "a regular occurrence, shrouded in secrecy...When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can't resist the urges and continue binge eating." How can you begin to help yourself? Here are some ideas to begin the healing relationship with food and yourself.

See a doctor.
WebMD notes that "Diagnosing eating disorders can be challenging, since secrecy, shame, and denial are characteristics of the diseases." But left untreated, experts agree, compulsive eating can get worse. A visit to your general practitioner should include a complete physical exam and a taking of your medical history. Your doctor might refer you to a psychiatrist who can use eating disorder-specific diagnostic tests to determine whether you would benefit from antidepressants or an anticonvulsant, both of which have been been found to be helpful in the treatment of binge-eating.

Talk it out.
Psychotherapy, either in individual or group settings, is an important part of binge eating treatment because it can help retrain entrenched thoughts and behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you address the issues head-on that trigger binges. Find a licensed therapist that specialized in eating disorders from a reputable source, such as the Psychology Today website. If you can't afford individual therapy, there are other options. Think about joining a free recovery group, such as Overeaters Anonymous.

Remember: It's not about the food.
Any addiction is never about the thing itself; the focus of your addiction is a placeholder for other problems that could be psychological, genetic, or environmental in nature. In the case of binge eating disorder, food can be a way to deal with any and everything from depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and a number of other psychological issues. "You may have low self-worth and trouble controlling impulsive behaviors, managing moods or expressing anger," writes the Mayo Clinic. Food is the binge eater's way to manage those feelings. Binge eating disorder is a problem in and of itself that requires treatment, but underneath the behavior lies a problem that requires attention, as well.

Educate yourself.

Knowledge is power. And even when you feel utterly overwhelmed by a problem and out of control, taking steps to empower yourself through education can help you feel like you're beginning to take your life back. Take a trip to your local library or book store to learn more about binge eating disorder. Overcoming Binge Eating is used in compulsive eating recovery programs, or you may prefer to read a more personalized version of overcoming the disorder in a memoir, such as The Good Eater.

Try yoga.
Although it hasn't been examined carefully enough yet, some research has shown that yoga may be effective as a treatment for binge eating disorder when practiced in conjunction with other proven recovery methods. We do know from a 2005 study in Psychology of Women Quarterly, though, that yoga practitioners "reported less self-objectification, greater satisfaction with physical appearance, and fewer disordered eating attitudes compared to non-yoga practitioners." We walk through our lives often disassociated from our bodies and the present moment; yoga can help bring both into line.

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