Something went really, really wrong recently – I started binge eating again. Almost every night. Even when I wanted to stop. Even when I was fighting myself to stop. Even when I was convincing myself I shouldn’t do it, I still did it. Over and over again.
The worst part was I kept telling myself I wouldn’t do it again. Then I did it again the next day.
It’s been many months since I last binged. In New Zealand I occasionally has the urge to binge but I didn’t follow through with those thoughts. I must not be over it like I thought because I fell into binge eating hard this week. Apparently I was just living a relatively stress free existence that didn’t trigger me. I’m not sure exactly what is triggering this in me now, but I need to figure it out. (Okay, I’m pretty sure it’s stress… I clearly don’t handle it well.)
And I need to learn how to stop.
When I talk to family about this it was suggested I seek out professional help for this problem. At first I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me to get therapy for controlling my food issues. After I calmed down I realized that literally just hours earlier I had thought the same thing myself – “I need therapy.”
I guess these two things together finally convinced me to actually do it.
After the discussions about binge eating and therapy I decided to do some research. If you’ve been struggling with this issue I hope my sharing can help you too!
Signs You Might Have a Problem with Binge Eating
Obviously admitting a problem with binge eating can be hard. It’s embarrassing and you might feel ashamed and want to hide. Here are a few signs from helpguide.org that your eating might be out of control and you need to seek professional help from a therapist about your binge eating:
Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating
- Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food
- Eating even when you’re full
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
- Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone
- Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes
Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating
- Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
- Embarrassment over how much you’re eating
- Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot.
- Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
- Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating
- Desperation to control weight and eating habits
Signs of binge eating disorder
Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.
- Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
- Do you think about food all the time?
- Do you eat in secret?
- Do you eat until you feel sick?
- Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
- Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
- Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?
Unfortunately these are things that I’ve recognized in myself and had to say yes to when reading these questions. Once you realize you have a problem with binge eating and can admit it to yourself, then you can get treatment.
Finding A Therapist
From what I read, binge eating disorder and binge eating can be successfully treated in therapy by working on several different things like fighting the compulsion to binge, making healthy new habits, and developing effective stress reducing techniques.
According to the helpguide.org article shared above, there are three types of therapy are particularly helpful in the treatment of binge eating disorder:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors involved in binge eating. One of the main goals is for you to become more self-aware of how you use food to deal with emotions. The therapist will help you recognize your binge eating triggers and learn how to avoid or combat them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for binge eating disorder also involves education about nutrition, healthy weight loss, and relaxation techniques.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on the relationship problems and interpersonal issues that contribute to compulsive eating. Your therapist will help you improve your communication skills and develop healthier relationships with family members and friends. As you learn how to relate better to others and get the emotional support you need, the compulsion to binge becomes more infrequent and easier to resist.
- Dialectical behavior therapy combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness meditation. The emphasis of therapy is on teaching binge eaters how to accept themselves, tolerate stress better, and regulate their emotions. Your therapist will also address unhealthy attitudes you may have about eating, shape, and weight. Dialectical behavior therapy typically includes both individual treatment sessions and weekly group therapy sessions.
Having this information in mind when you reach out to a therapist for binge eating can be really helpful. all therapists have a different style and method of working with people so it is important to find the one that clicks with you and offers the kind of therapy that fits you best.
You can find a therapist by googling “binge eating therapist in your city” or by asking your doctor for a referral to someone. While they might not have a specific binge eating therapist in mind they can point you in the right direction.
Last night I e-mailed a therapist. I did a bit of googling and found someone with a PhD who specializes in eating disorders. Her approach is “eclectic but based on mindfulness, cognitive and interpersonal approaches. It is my goal for each client to re-connect with their own resilience while practicing new skills for breaking out of old patterns.” That sounds good to me.
She also runs a free, community based eating disorders support group that has been meeting twice a month for 16 years. So I will force myself to go to that too because I still have a big problem.
I’m still waiting to hear back from her since e-mails sent on Friday nights aren’t usually returned asap. But I just wanted to share this part of my journey because it’s huge and scary and freaking me out. At the same time I think it might be the thing I’ve really needed all along and just didn’t want to admit. And I’m finally in a position where I actually have the money to afford therapy (sort of), so I need to go for it.
I am ready to find ways to end binge eating once and for all.