Binge eating disorder is the most prevalent eating disorder in the U.S. As with every eating disorder, there are no quick fixes or magic solutions to make binge eating disorder disappear. There are, however, some steps you can take to start this recovery work.
Try to interrupt chaotic eating with structure
A chaotic eating pattern is a hallmark of any eating disorder. With binge eating disorder, there is often a push/pull pattern between binge eating and restrictive eating. This pattern is what some might call a “vicious cycle” that keeps itself going and needs some kind of interruption in order for it to stop. Nutritionally, we recommend establishing a pattern of structured, consistent eating to help interrupt the binge/restrict cycle.
A pattern of structured eating looks like trying to eat something every few hours and ideally not going more than 4 hours between eating episodes. More specifically,
we might recommend eating three meals and two or three snacks every day. In the beginning, this could mean eating something even if you do not feel hungry.
For example, if you work at home and consume nothing but coffee until lunch, try eating something within the hour after you wake up, and it doesn’t have to be breakfast food. If you binged at lunch and plan to eat nothing during the rest of the day, that will only continue the binge/restrict cycle. Instead, try having something at your evening meal time and maybe an evening snack, too.
Lean into your supports
Eating disorders thrive in isolation. Binge eating disorder, in particular, can carry a lot of shame, which can make reaching out to those closest to you difficult. If you have anyone in your life who you trust to be a support on this journey, consider how they could help you.
Is there an upcoming weekend with nothing planned on your calendar? Ask one of your supports to have a meal with you, in person or over video chat.
Feeling an urge to binge? Call someone you trust in order to distract you for a time and see if the urge is less after the call.
Those supportive people in your lives, whether they know it or not, can help decrease isolation and increase your confidence to challenge your eating disorder.
Practice self-compassion during eating disorder recovery
Recovering from binge eating disorder is hard work, and does not happen overnight. Give yourself some grace because you are doing the best you can. If a day of planned meals and snacks becomes a day of binging, take a breath and try to return to your eating structure at the next meal or snack.
Remember, small steps build to greater progress.
Don’t be afraid to seek out help
We know finding binge eating disorder treatment can be tough. Walden is here for you. If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, may have an eating disorder, please reach out by completing the form on this page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Gustamachio, MEd, RD, LDN (she/her/hers) is a registered dietitian and the assistant program director of Walden’s Free to Be IOP for Binge and Emotional Eating. Katie has worked at all levels of care and found a strong passion for supporting clients recovering from binge eating disorder. Katie completed her dietetic internship at Saint Louis University, in St. Louis, MO, and her master’s degree in health education with an eating disorder concentration, at Plymouth State University, in Plymouth, NH.
Fairburn, C.G. (2013). Overcoming binge eating: The proven program to learn why you binge and how you can stop (2nd ed.). The Guilford Press.
*This blog post does not necessarily represent the views of Walden Behavioral Care and its management. The Walden Blog is meant to represent a broad variety of opinions relating to eating disorders and their treatment.