Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Weekly action tasks
Aided Self Reflection
Getting to know yourself via the questionnaires
Tips for approaching your questionnaire feedback
Review and reflection from Week 1
Goals for Week 2
The importance of regular eating
Developing regular eating
Troubleshooting common roadblocks to regular eating
Basic nutrition and meal planning
Review and reflection from Week 2
Goals for Week 3
Binge eating triggers
What do we know about urges?
How can we use what we know to our advantage?
Let’s help Toni and Bobby
Planning ahead of time
Review and reflection from Week 3
Goals for Week 4
Thoughts – where do they come from?
Rahul & Casey
Thoughts that lead to feelings that lead to behavior
Becoming aware of your thoughts
Special mention – feelings are not thoughts
Unhelpful thinking styles & how they relate to binge eating
Challenging your thoughts
Testing your thoughts with behavioral experiments
Review and reflection from Week 4
Goals for Week 5
Diet and weight
What is intuitive eating?
How does intuitive eating work?
Intuitive eating and weight
Relationship between body image and dieting
Body shape concerns
How to get your body shape concerns in check
Tips to avoid shape checking
Healthy Body Image
Review and reflection from Week 5
Goals for Week 6
Early Warning Signs
Binge eating & co-occurring conditions
Acknowledge and accept the process
Where to next?
About This Course
How to stop binge eating? Learn about evidence based scientific binge eating disorder treatment.
Dr. Joseph and Dr. Sal, between them they have held positions as Psychiatrists and University Academics in several institutions across Australia. Epsychonline is their effort to bring low-cost access to mental health care globally. Lofty ambitions! If you want to get to know them, visit our YouTube Channel.
About this course
How to stop binge eating? Learn about evidence based scientific binge eating disorder treatment.
By taking this self-help course, you’ll develop a foundation of skills to improve your eating and body image. This course is designed for someone looking for help with their binge eating disorder treatment. Week 1 is an introduction before we dive into more advanced topics.
Why we created this course.
Binge eating is by far the most common eating disorder. It is an under-recognized condition. We don’t speak enough about it. Millions of people suffer in silence, alone and struggle to get help. There is a lot of shame and guilt associated with binge eating.
This course has psychology, dietician and general medical input. We have pulled from different schools of evidence-based psychological practices in order to build this course. We want you to see this course alongside conventional binge eating disorder treatment, medical input and broader supports.
How this course is different
Each week of this course is divided into three parts:
- Educational lessons at the start,
- Quiz to aid self-reflection in the middle,
- Tailored suggestions at the end.
Depending on how you answer the questions in our quiz, you will get specific feedback and suggestions each week. The feedback and suggestions you take away from this course will be unique to you.
For example, if Toni and Bobby, two fictional people, were to do this course. The chances that Toni and Bobby would get the same feedback and suggestion would be 1 in over 7,000,000,000.
We use simple artificial intelligence (AI) tools to create specific feedback and suggestions.
Why do we do this?
People are unique. We want to give you answers, feedback, and solutions that best suit you.
The reasons why Toni and Bobby binge will be different. There are plenty of reasons why people binge eat, which is why we want to give Toni, Bobby and you the feedback and answers that are best suited.
Key aspects of this course
Discover drivers of binge eating and what aspects of the binge eating cycle apply to you. Troubleshoot the common roadblocks to regular eating with our help. Learn about compensatory behavior, urge surfing and meet Toni and Bobby. They are two fictional characters who will share their stories to help you learn more.
We also cover shape checking, feeling fat and managing social pressures. The course ends with early warning signs, binge setbacks and how to address them if they do occur.
Is that this course will help you leave behind the binge eating cycle. Form part of your binge eating disorder treatment plan and be a tool alongside professional and other supports you get. We want to get you thinking, understanding and questioning your eating. Our hope is for you to experience lasting change when it comes to eating healthy
Good News! We have opened access to Week 1 of the learning material
Topics Covered in this section
Who is this course for?
This is a self-help program for anyone seeking binge eating disorder treatment. If you struggle to control yourself around food, frequently overeat to the point of discomfort, take part in ‘yo-yo dieting’, use food for emotional comfort, or feel dissatisfied about your body and your relationship with food, then this self-help program is for you.
So long as you have basic reading skills, this course is appropriate for you, regardless of your sex, ethnicity and nationality and as long as you are not substantially underweight. If you are underweight, we encourage you to seek prompt medical advice, as you may be nutritionally compromised and need specialist care. In the sections below, we will encourage you to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) using our BMI Calculator – this will give you a rough indication of your weight status. People under the age of 18 years are recommended to undertake this course with guidance from a trusted adult.
What to expect from this course?
This course is based on principles from Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It is a type of evidence-based psychological treatment. Research has shown CBT to be effective for treating binge-eating problems. This course will help you to change your unwanted behavior. It will also address the cognitive (‘thinking’) factors that maintain your binge-eating (e.g. beliefs about weight and shape, strict food rules and ‘all or nothing’ thinking).
The aims of this course are to help you to:
- Increase your knowledge and understanding of binge-eating and its associated issues
- Achieve a pattern of regular eating
- Replace binge-eating with more helpful strategies
- Change unhelpful thinking patterns that are keeping you stuck
- Address dieting and body image concerns
- Maintain your gains and reduce the risk of relapse
This course runs for six weeks in total, with the content for each week divided into three sections:
- Section 1 provides educational content to increase your understanding of the topic for that week. Section 1 includes ‘action tasks’ – activities that help you put the principles you’ve learned into practice – for you to complete over the coming week.
- Section 2 comprises aided self-reflection in the form of multiple-choice questions and tailored feedback, which will help you to apply the weekly content to yourself and develop deeper insight into the nature of your difficulties.
- Section 3 uses your responses from the second section to provide you with additional self-help recommendations and resources targeted to your specific needs.
It is important to have realistic expectations as you embark on your binge eating disorder treatment journey. Attempting to change longstanding coping methods is no easy feat, so you must assume there will be challenges ahead. Do not expect success to occur overnight, as change and recovery take time. We believe you will make positive progress, but setbacks along the way are a natural part of the process. We encourage you to persist with the program, especially when it gets tough, as people can, and do, recover from problems with binge-eating, and you can too.
Getting to know yourself: Establishing your baseline
This section is about collecting data on yourself via some questionnaires so that you
- know where you’re starting and
- can monitor your progress throughout the course.
We will encourage you to complete the same questionnaires each week so you can track yourself over time.
Humans are not known for their accuracy in recalling personal information, so having an ‘objective’ measure for progress is essential. For example, if we simply asked you how you are progressing with the course a few weeks down the track, your answer would be biased by things like your mood state, whether you are hungry, the time since your last binge, and how stressed you feel.
Instead, by filling out a questionnaire each week, you can collect your data and avoid personal bias where possible. It can be motivating when the numbers on a page show evidence of your improvement over time! If there is a lack of progress, this is also important to pick up, as a change or alteration in your approach may be required. We will graph your responses each week to make it easy for you to track your progress.
Completing the questionnaires today will provide you with your ‘baseline’ scores, that is, a snapshot of where you are at now, prior to completing the active components of the course. Your baseline scores act as a reference point and can be used for later comparisons. Each week we will ask you to complete the same questionnaires to gather information about your:
- Weight and BMI
- Eating attitudes and behaviors
- General psychological well being
Introduction to Binge Eating
What’s the difference between binge eating (BE) and binge eating disorder (BED)?
What is a binge?
The word binge is often used to refer to “a period of unrestrained and excessive indulgence in an activity”. In other words, the indulgent behavior must be, or at least feel, out of control and be excessive (i.e. greater than is necessary, normal or desirable). The types of activities commonly associated with binging are usually pleasurable. They may have an addictive feel to them, for example, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, watching Netflix or eating food.
What is binge eating?
We all overeat from time to time, and many people often feel that they have eaten more than they should have. Examples of common overeating include going back for seconds or thirds at Christmas lunch or ordering dessert when eating out, despite feeling full. Whilst frequent overeating can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, lead to weight gain, it is unlikely to cause a person significant distress. Some people, however, feel overwhelmed and unable to control their eating.
In these cases, people may resort to binge eating to manage their insatiable cravings or mood states. The term ‘binge eating’ refers to consuming large quantities of food in a short period of time. To be called a binge, the amount of food consumed must be more significant than most people would eat in a similar timeframe. The person experiences a sense of lack of control over their food intake and continues eating despite discomfort. The food is often eaten very rapidly and with little awareness or enjoyment.
Although there are no hard and fast rules, the food consumed during a binge is typically filling and high in calories. It tends to include things that people consider ‘junk food’ and might otherwise try to avoid. Binges often occur in secret, and an appearance of ‘normal’ eating can be maintained in front of others, making the issue potentially challenging to identify. People may feel a sense of shame and disgust at themselves following the binge-eating episode.
It is important to distinguish between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ binges. If it is clear to an outsider that you have consumed an excessive amount of food, it is likely you have experienced an objective binge. On the other hand, if you feel like you’ve binged, but the amount does not seem extreme to an outsider, then it may be a subjective binge. A subjective binge can involve things like eating something you hadn’t planned, eating more than intended or feeling out of control whilst eating, rather than eating to excess.
What is binge eating disorder?
As its name suggests, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is closely related to the act of binge eating. However, in contrast to binge eating, which describes an isolated behavior, BED is a mental health condition with potentially serious consequences. People often get confused and think that if they are binge-eating, they must have BED. However, this isn’t always the case.
People with BED have recurrent episodes of binge eating. There is no immediate attempt to ‘get rid’ of the food or prevent weight gain. Although there may be some sporadic fasting or dieting, people with BED don’t engage in compensatory behaviors like self-induced vomiting, laxative misuse or excessive exercise. As a result, many are above average weight, although this is not always the case.
For a diagnosis of BED, episodes of binge eating must occur at least once a week, on average, for a period of 3 or more months. The binges cause the person significant distress and may interfere with their ability to function at work, in relationships, and in other important aspects of life.
For a diagnosis of BED, the repeated binge eating episodes must involve three or more of the following features:
- Eating more quickly than normal
- Eating beyond the point of feeling full
- Eating large amounts of food despite not feeling physically hungry
- Eating alone or hiding whilst eating because you feel embarrassed
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, guilty or ashamed afterwards
BED can be further classified into levels of severity, ranging from mild to extreme, based on the number of binge-eating episodes per week. Generally speaking, the more frequent the binge-eating attacks, the more severe the BED. Suppose you are experiencing 8 or more binge-eating episodes per week. In that case, your condition may fall within the severe to extreme range. If this is the case, we encourage you to seek additional medical and psychological support.
Binge-eating can also be a feature of several other eating disorders. For example, Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is a well-known eating disorder characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, which are followed by extreme efforts to control one’s weight (e.g., self-induced vomiting, intense exercise, dieting or fasting). Full coverage of these other disorders is outside the scope of this course.
What is the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating?
There is widespread misunderstanding about eating disorders and disordered eating. These conditions share much in common, but some key differences are important to note.
Eating disorders are a range of psychiatric disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits that meet specific criteria regarding frequency, duration and severity. The behaviors have negative consequences and significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life and overall health. Compared to disordered eating, eating disorders are more severe and often require more intensive treatment.
Disordered eating refers to a range of irregular or disturbed eating behaviors that may or may not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder. Behaviors associated with disordered eating are very similar to those seen in eating disorders but are often less intense. Occasional binge-eating or overeating that does not cause any significant harm, distress or interference with daily life is an example of disordered eating. However, if you are worried about these behaviors and consider them a problem, they are worth addressing. Disordered eating can be a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. People with disordered eating are at a higher risk for developing a full-blown eating disorder, as well as other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
This course is helpful for people who have problems with binge eating, regardless of whether they have an eating disorder or disordered eating. The course is designed to be ‘transdiagnostic’, which means it targets issues across different conditions and presenting problems. Many of the statistics and terminology we use refers to BED, because this is where most of the research has been done. However, the active components of the course may also be useful for those without a formal diagnosis of BED.
Binge-eating facts and statistics
Although it is often spoken about less, BED is the most common type of all eating disorders. BED has been prevalent in Western countries for some time. Research in non-Western countries is less available, but existing studies show the prevalence of eating problems in these regions is increasing. The traditional view that eating disorders are ‘culturally-bound’ issues of the Western world has now been outdated. There is growing research to confirm the presence of eating problems within many Asian, Arabic and other countries.
Available statistics suggest BED affects up to 6% of the general population. Rates are significantly higher amongst people who are overweight and obese. This makes BED more common than other conditions, like breast cancer and HIV. These statistics are likely to underestimate the actual prevalence of BED and its related problems. They don’t represent people whose binge-eating goes undiagnosed. There is also the issue of underreporting. Many people don’t come forward and admit they have a binge-eating problem due to shame.
Binge eating can affect both men and women, although it is slightly more common in women (60% female vs 40% male). Despite this, BED is the most common eating disorder amongst males. BED tends to begin in the late teens or early 20s. For women, it is most common in early adulthood and, for men, it is most common in midlife. BED occurs among people of all age groups, races and income levels. The condition can affect people regardless of their weight. However, it is more common in people who are overweight or obese. It is important to note, however, that most people with obesity do not have BED.
What causes binge-eating problems?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Despite a large amount of research on the topic, our understanding of what causes eating problems is still relatively limited. What we do know for sure is that binge-eating problems are not a lifestyle choice, a phase, or a lack of willpower. There are many factors that interact with each other in complex ways to influence the way we relate to food and our bodies. These factors can be genetic, biological, environmental, psychological and sociocultural in nature. Let’s take a minute to look at each in more depth:
Although there is no single ‘binge eating’ gene, there is some evidence of a genetic link for eating disorders and disordered eating. Binge-eating problems can often run in families. People who have a history of binge-eating issues within their family of origin have a higher risk of developing problems with binge-eating themselves.
Certain biological factors can increase a person’s risk of binge-eating. For example, if you have a personal history of frequently fluctuating weight, you may be at greater risk of binge-eating problems. Strict dieting can deprive the body of its essential nutrients, which in turn activates a physiological drive to replenish your energy stores. In this state of physical deprivation, a person is much more susceptible to binge-eating.
Chemical imbalances in the body can also play a role in binge-eating, as can structural changes in the brain. For example, certain brain chemicals (e.g. serotonin & dopamine) and hormones (e.g., leptin & ghrelin) regulate biological processes, such as mood, appetite and impulse control, which are directly related to binge-eating.
Stressful life events, such as dealing with loss, financial problems, injury or illness, can play a role in the development of binge-eating problems. A personal history of trauma is also a risk factor, as people may turn to binge-eating to cope with the impact of their traumatic experiences. Other difficult experiences in early life can also lead to problems with binge-eating, such as growing up with limited access to food or being bullied as a child. Bullying of any kind may contribute to binge-eating. However, bullying around weight or appearance is particularly concerning.
Having a personal history of other psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can increase your risk of developing problems with binge-eating, as you might turn to food to cope with the distress caused by these disorders. Pre-existing issues with body image, self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy may also increase your risk, as does having certain personality traits, like perfectionism and impulsivity.
Many social and cultural factors play a role in the development of binge-eating problems. For example, simply living in a culture that judges and assigns value based on physical appearance is a risk factor, as is living in a culture that endorses unrealistic beauty ideals. Exposure to these beauty ideals via peers, family members, and the media, can make you feel inadequate and increase your risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with food and your body.
You may also be at greater risk of binge-eating problems if you have experienced judgement or discrimination based on your weight or appearance. Limited access to information about healthy eating and body diversity can also play a role by fueling unhealthy ways of thinking about and relating to food and your body. Having a family member who is overly weight-conscious, has disordered eating or is overweight/obese can also place you at greater risk of problems with binge-eating.
Every person is different, and it is important to note that there are multiple roads to developing a problem with binge-eating. Any combination of the above factors has the potential to initiate these types of problems. Some people report that their binge-eating problems first started following a period of dieting during their teen years. Other people report having always had a tendency to overeat, especially when feeling down or stressed, which later progressed into full-blown binge episodes. Binge-eating problems may be ongoing or fluctuate with periods free from binge-eating.
We encourage you to have a think about your binge-eating journey – the factors that may have made you vulnerable to these problems and the way in which these problems have progressed for you over time.
What are the impacts of binge-eating problems?
Binge-eating problems can lead to severe consequences in many aspects of a person’s life. Of course, we all know the uncomfortable feeling of a sore or bloated stomach after overeating. However, the impacts of binge-eating problems go far beyond this common form of discomfort. Below we discuss some of the typical physical, behavioral, psychological and social consequences of binge-eating:
There are several physical impacts of binge-eating, some immediate and some longer-term. In the short term, stomach discomfort can occur in the form of bloating, abdominal pain, acid reflux and nausea. You may feel physically sluggish and tired in the hours or days following a binge. Sleep problems are not uncommon, as it is difficult for the body to wind down whilst processing large amounts of food. In the medium to longer-term, unwanted weight gain may occur, with around 50% of people with BED being obese. As you are probably aware, overweight and obesity often bring about a whole host of other medical complications.
Binge eating problems can cause significant changes in behavior. Over time, people with binge eating problems often withdraw from their usual activities. This may include reduced attendance at work, lack of interest in hobbies, or less frequent social contact with friends and family. Often, this withdrawal is driven by physical fatigue, low mood, anxiety and feelings of shame and embarrassment. Other behavioral impacts include acting or planning to obtain, hide or consume food; along with frequent attempts at dieting or controlling food intake, without much success.
Binge eating problems can lead to several psychological consequences, many of which can be highly debilitating. Feelings of shame, self-loathing, sadness, loneliness, depression and anxiety are common amongst people with binge eating difficulties. Over time, problems with binge eating can lead a person to become preoccupied with their diet, weight and shape, which can feel overwhelming. Binge eating is also associated with low self-esteem and an increased risk for other mental health disorders, particularly depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
Problems with binge eating can lead to difficulties in other areas of life, including social, educational and occupational realms. Many people with binge eating problems isolate themselves due to low self-esteem, physical fatigue, and feelings of shame and embarrassment around their binge eating and body image. This, in turn, can create issues in social relationships. Close relationships may suffer, as friends and family members may either be unaware or unsupportive or critical of your difficulties. Binge eating can also negatively impact your performance at work and school, through decreased productivity and attendance. This, along with increased spending on food items, may create financial difficulties.
In summary, binge eating problems can have a severe and debilitating impact on all facets of a person’s life. Most people with binge eating problems report that their quality of life is reduced significantly as a result of their difficulties. After reading this section, you may identify strongly with some or many of the impacts discussed above.
We now encourage you to think about the impact of binge eating in your own life. Try to consider the impact of your difficulties in physical, behavioral, psychological and social areas of functioning. If you can, write down your answers so you can refer back to them in later weeks.
What maintains binge-eating problems? The Binge Eating Cycle
By now, you might have an idea of some of the factors that have played a role in developing your binge-eating problems. The next step is to understand the factors that keep your problem going, in other words, the ‘maintaining factors’. This section is focused on uncovering the things that are keeping you stuck in the binge-eating cycle.
The binge-eating cycle is a vicious cycle of thoughts, feelings and behaviors, which explain why you may feel unable to break free from a life of binge eating, despite all its negative consequences. Generally speaking, the cycle involves some combination of dieting, emotional distress and, of course, binging. Let’s discuss how each of these factors fits together to keep the cycle going.
Many people enter the binge-eating cycle after a period of dieting to lose weight, be ‘healthier’ or get in shape. They start out well-intentioned, but after a period of time, they become physically and emotionally depleted. If you’ve attempted a strict diet before, you are probably well aware of the physical and psychological toll it can take. You feel extreme hunger, and thoughts about food start to take over. At the same time, many physical changes occur in the body. Dieting often denies the body its essential nutrients, which can put your health at risk. In this state, where thoughts about food become obsessive and the body is depleted of the fuel it needs for optimal functioning, a person is more likely to binge.
Following a binge, people are often overwhelmed by feelings of shame and disgust. You may believe you have ‘failed’ your dieting pursuit and attribute your binge episode to a lack of personal willpower. Messages in the media and from family and friends may even reinforce this view and add to your shame. Mood and self-esteem can plummet during this phase, as the new and improved ‘future-self’ that was promised by the diet now feels unattainable. In an attempt to feel better or, as a way of rebelling further against the diet regime, it is not uncommon for food rules to be disregarded entirely. However, shame and disgust linger. With the push of society’s diet culture, many people eventually get back on the diet bandwagon, only for the cycle to repeat.
An alternative way that people wind up stuck in the binge-eating cycle is when the binge-eating occurs first. You may have had a longstanding tendency to overeat or use food as a way of coping with difficult circumstances and emotions. This may or may not have impacted your weight, but it is highly likely that it impacted your self-esteem. In an attempt to regain a sense of control and dignity, people often resort to restricting their food intake. You may decide to restrict the day after a binge or, to avoid embarrassment, during the hours that you’re around other people. However, after making it through most of the day with very little food, you find yourself feeling hungry and exhausted. This combination creates the perfect storm for an evening binge, which keeps you stuck in the vicious cycle.
With the binge eating cycle in mind, we encourage you to think about your own binge-eating patterns. Think about your most recent binge. Were you dieting at the time or trying to correct for your last binge? What factors might have made you more vulnerable to bingeing? What did you feel, and how did you react after the binge? Does a sense of shame or isolation keep you from asking for help?
Hopefully, the introduction of this cycle has been a helpful first step to understanding your binge-eating. In the next section, we discuss treatment options and strategies for breaking the binge-eating cycle.
Breaking the cycle - Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
If you’ve struggled with binge-eating for some time, your problem may not go away on its own. Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options for breaking the binge-eating cycle. Some people will be able to get better with the use of self-help strategies. Others may need more intensive support and professional intervention. Here, we discuss several different treatment options.
So long as you are not in a physical or mental health crisis, self-help can be a great place to start. Self-help resources are designed to help you become more informed about your binge-eating problems. This can help you develop insight into the thoughts, feelings and other triggers that drive your binge-eating. The more you are able to understand the factors that keep you stuck in the binge-eating cycle, the more control you will likely gain over them.
Binge eating disorder treatment self help comes in many forms. It includes reading articles online to more structured programs, such as a self-help book or guided course like this one. Some people choose to combine the use of guided self-help tools with regular input and support from a health professional. We have done our best to make this course as interactive and tailored as possible; however, if you find that you cannot make sufficient progress with this course alone, you will probably need to access further help.
Working with your GP (family doctor)
Your GP is often the best port of call for early support. Binge eating disorder treatment needs to address both your physical and mental health, and GP’s are well placed to support you with both of these things. Your GP can direct you towards helpful forms of support and provide referrals to specialist healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists or dietitians, as needed.
Psychological therapy, sometimes called ‘talk therapy’, involves working with a therapist to understand your difficulties better and achieve positive change. Your therapist may be trained as a psychologist, psychiatrist or in some other health profession.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the form of psychological therapy with the most substantial evidence base for binge-eating problems. As its name suggests, CBT attempts to address the cognitive aspects, or thought processes, and behavioral patterns that maintain your binge-eating problems. Your therapist will work with you to uncover and change the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT also teaches skills, such as problem-solving, distress tolerance and interpersonal skills, that might help you address other key factors underlying your difficulties.
At present, there is no widely approved medication for binge-eating disorder treatment. There is some evidence for the use of antidepressant medication in this area. However, the effects don’t appear to last over time. Studies have shown that antidepressant medication can reduce the frequency of binge-eating in the short term. People report a reduced urge to binge, increased control, less obsessive thoughts about food and improved mood. However, given that these benefits are often not sustained, medication alone is not a viable mass binge eating disorder treatment option. Antidepressants are more commonly used to treat conditions, such as depression and anxiety, that people commonly experience alongside their binge-eating problems.
Working with a dietitian
Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition. Seeing a dietitian can boost your nutritional knowledge and help you to correct any ‘food myths’ that are keeping you stuck. Dietitians can provide great practical support in the form of developing a meal plan to meet your specific energy requirements. They can work with you to repair your relationship with food and return to healthy and enjoyable eating.
We acknowledge that getting help forces you outside of your comfort zone, which can feel extremely threatening. You have likely been using binge-eating as a way of coping with overwhelming feelings for some time. Despite the many negative consequences of binge-eating, you may feel as though this behavior keeps you ‘safe’. By accessing this course, you have taken a huge and courageous step towards breaking free from binge-eating. We hope this course is useful in your binge eating disorder treatment journey towards recovery.
This course is designed to be a self-help tool based on the latest research and understanding of effective strategies to address these types of problems.
Making a commitment to change
Overcoming difficulties with binge-eating can be challenging. To give yourself the best chance of success, you will need to make sure your motivation levels remain high. One way to maintain your motivation for change is to be really clear on the reasons why you want to change. These reasons are a good reference point to come back to when things get tough.
Exercise – reasons for change
Take a moment to think about your reasons for change. We have provided you with some examples to get you started. We also encourage you to come up with your own reasons.
- Reduce my feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment
- Return to a regular eating routine, with ordinary meals at ordinary times
- Remove the urge to be secretive or hide my eating behaviors from others
- Improve my self-esteem and feel better about myself
- Reduce the control that food and eating has over my life
- Improve my social life and relationships
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Reduce my body shape and weight concerns
- Improve my physical and mental health
- Gain a sense of freedom in my life
Exercise – pros and cons of change
Hopefully, by now, you have completed the last exercise and have thought about your reasons for change. We now encourage you to think about the pros and cons of changing your eating habits. Use the downloadable form to record the pros and cons of changing your binge-eating behavior versus not changing your behavior or staying the same. Once you have done this, weigh the list of pros and cons and ask yourself, whether the pros of change outweigh the cons. You will likely find that the long term benefits of change outweigh the cons, which are often shorter-term and temporary
Exercise – self-contract
You may want to formalize your commitment to change by making a contract with yourself. For example, we encourage you to complete the downloadable self-contract, which prompts you to set a goal or goals (e.g. completing this online course and reducing the frequency of my binge eating), consider the steps you need to take to achieve this goal, and set a reward for following through. You may also want to enlist the support of friends and family, as they can help keep you accountable and on your binge eating disorder treatment plan.
Introduction to self-monitoring
As discussed earlier, gathering data about yourself and your progress over time is an important part of behavior change. To change your eating habits, you need to first be aware of and understand where you’re starting from. One way of developing this insight is to keep a food diary. A food diary is a form of self-monitoring, which gets you to record when you eat, what you eat, whether you binged, how you felt and any other details regarding your food consumption.
Although this may sound daunting, it is an incredibly powerful and necessary tool in binge eating disorder treatment. We will encourage you to keep a food diary each week, as this will help you to identify patterns in your eating behavior and to track any changes that occur over time. Try to be as honest as you can about your eating behavior, as this will give you the best chance of success.