THE BLOG
06/01/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Kara DioGuardi and the New Eating Disorder

If you are an American Idol fan, you are familiar with the talented Kara DioGuardi, one of the judges. She was moved to tears this week by one of the contestants.

Kara recently spoke about her battle with an eating disorder. Specifically, she discussed her struggle with the symptoms of "Binge Eating Disorder," which is generally characterized by eating large amounts of food, feeling out of control while doing so and using food to deal with emotions. It's not just about overeating. When your eating is out of control, causes you distress or is impacting your physical and emotional health, you may have Binge Eating Disorder.

Until the newest edition of the DSM-IV is released (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Binge Eating Disorder is not officially considered an eating disorder category. The American Psychiatric Association released a draft of the new manual on February 10th 2010. The last edition of the DSM-IV was published in 1994. Some revisions were made in 2000. The new DSM-5 is scheduled for release in May 2013.

Why is Binge Eating Disorder being proposed as a new category? Many people have problems with eating that do not fall under the traditional criteria of anorexia and bulimia. Kara is a good example of this (she was not restricting or purging). This forces therapist and doctors to diagnose people with an "Eating Disorder, NOS (not otherwise specified) which is a very broad category. Without proper diagnosis, it is often difficult to get treatment and to fully understand the nature of the problem. It's estimated that 3.5 percent of American women and two percent of American men have binge eating disorder.*

How did Kara DioGuardi heal? According to her story, treatment and focusing on music. Thank you to Kara for sharing her path to recovery. Many people are unaware that treatments for eating disorders aren't just for anorexia and bulimia. Any kind of eating problem that causes you significant distress warrants treatment. Eating issues are so specialized that it is important to work with a therapist who is well trained (see www.edreferral.com and www.gurze.net for more info)

When you take out food as your main source of comfort, you have to put something calming and comforting in its place. For Kara, it was music. It can be a challenge to find what works for you (See 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food). Check out her involvement in the Phoenix House, a non-profit substance abuse service organization. The Phoenix House (http://www.phoenixhouse.org helps others to recover from issues related to addiction.

To learn more about the symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder, get a free PDF from the The Eating Disorder Center of Denver: http://www.edcdenver.com/learn-more-about-eating-disorders

*Binge Eating Disorder Association http://www.bedaonline.com/

Eating Mindfully www.eatingmindfully.com

By Dr. Susan Albers, psychologist and author of four books on mindful eating.

Articles:
Psychological treatments of binge eating disorder.
Wilson GT, Wilfley DE, Agras WS, Bryson SW.
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Jan;67(1):94-101.

Update on course and outcome in eating disorders.
Keel PK, Brown TA.
Int J Eat Disord. 2010 Feb 22;43(3):195-204.