“recovered” mean? Recovered means eating and moving in response
to body needs most of the time. Your body's needs will vary day to
It does NOT mean never eating compulsively again. Bingeing may
always be “in your toolbox.” People without BED eat for "emotional"
It means eating to check out will become rarer and rarer, with less
and less food, for shorter and shorter episodes.
It means one episode will not, by default, lead to another.
It means an episode will get your attention right away; you will
know the real need, let go of any anger at yourself for eating, and
meet the real need as best you can.
Recovery is a journey, not a destination. You will recover at the
rate that is just right for you!
Questions About Compulsive Eating and Binge Eating Disorder
How do I know if I am a binge eater or have BED?
There are a
variety of symptoms, but the bottom line is feeling overall out of
control in your relationship to food. A person may try to change their
eating behavior, but will ultimately return to old patterns. Some people
may have periods of discreet bingeing (i.e. consuming large quantities
of food in a short time), they may overeat at mealtimes, or they may
“graze,” never really finishing a meal. Their weight may go up over
time, remain stable, or they may even have periods of weight loss,
usually followed by regaining the weight over time. Ultimately, the
person feels unable to change their eating patterns permanently.
Why can’t I stop this behavior? Isn’t it just a question of
It takes extraordinary willpower to keep trying to go
on diets or make changes to eating patterns. If willpower were the only
issue, this problem would have been solved long ago! The reasons
behind binge eating are always complex, and are typically about
both past and present stressors, biochemistry, and genetics. Often,
people have a long history of using food to meet needs other than
hunger, including distraction, soothing and companionship. To change
eating habits permanently, these needs must be met in new ways.
Otherwise, the person will revert back to binge eating as soon as a
Who is at risk for developing binge eating or BED?
factors are at play in the development of BED, and the combination is
unique to each person. A list of common causes includes:
- History of being "overweight."
- Family history of eating
disorders, depression, alcoholism, or OCD
- Intense family or
personal concern with weight and appearance
identifying and/or expressing feelings
- Family atmosphere that
limited emotional expression in significant ways
emotional trauma or loss
- Low self-esteem
- Tendency to
be a "people pleaser," too often putting others’ needs before one’s
- Difficulty setting limits with others
- High degree
of perfectionism or "black and white" thinking
predisposition to experiencing feelings particularly intensely
- Strong tendency toward self-soothing and dissociation ("checking
- Mood disorders, including anxiety disorders,
depression and bipolar disorders
- Significantly negative or
distorted body image
What do people with BED use food to do?
There are many uses
for bingeing, and everyone uses food to meet needs
other than hunger sometimes. But if this becomes a pattern such that
your peace of mind is compromised, there may well be an underlying
eating disorder. Some common uses of food for people with BED
- Distraction (from feelings, from others, from
feared situations or stressors)
- Rebellion (from dieting, from other's needs, from the "rules")
- Slowing time/Avoiding a scary/stressful issue or problem
- Cherishing yourself by allowing yourself any food you crave
- Setting a my "space" boundary or alone time
- Soothing anxiety, fear, shame, grief
- Express anger (eating can be a violent act!)
Does every binge have an underlying cause?
Bingeing can be
caused by any of the issues listed above. It may also be caused by
"triggers", which are behavioral patterns that, over time, become
connected with overeating. For example, someone may be feeling ok
emotionally, but if a TV show is on that they associate with eating, a
powerful craving may occur. An important aspect of recovery is about
getting to know your "triggers" very well, and learning how to either
avoid them, or disconnect them from the desire to overeat.
It is our mission to create the right professional treatment
team for your recovery. Bodywise offers referrals to a variety
of professionals, in both the Ann Arbor and Annapolis
communities and nationwide. If you need a medical or psychiatric
evaluation, a more intensive level of treatment (including
inpatient or residential care), or a referral for complimentary
or alternative practitioners, we can help!