Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, however it is often deeply stigmatized and misunderstood. For those who are struggling with binge eating disorder, it’s important to note that you are certainly not alone in experiencing this.
Additionally, it is very common for those who binge to experience a deep sense of shame and guilt surrounding their behaviors. Thus, it is crucial to practice self-compassion and to recognize that your desire to binge actually comes from a good place. Binging behaviors may have helped you thus far to cope with food insecurity and deprivation, past trauma, intense emotions, and relational conflicts.
Further, binging is actually a natural response to real or perceived deprivation. This makes complete sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Dr. Lauren Muhlheim, PsyD, CEDS, director of Eating Disorder Therapy LA, exemplified this point when she stated,
“Our bodies evolved in an environment in which food was relatively scarce. To survive in such an environment, our bodies had to prioritize the consumption of food above other activities. If our food supply was less secure, we learned to stock up on food when we could…Bingeing was not a matter of poor willpower, but a perfectly normal and healthy body response to starvation.”
I believe that disordered eating behaviors are a way that an individual is trying to meet their needs. Often people use these behaviors to cope with unpleasant emotions or difficult life circumstances. These behaviors may cause people to feel temporarily better in the short-term, but typically lead to greater pain and suffering in the long-term.
Thus, in working with clients with binge eating disorder my primary aim is to help them to develop self-compassion, let go of the diet-mentality, and to uncover the function of their binging behaviors. Then, we can work together to develop more life-affirming strategies.
I’ve had many people reach out to me regarding resources for their recovery from binge eating disorder. The following are the top three books that I recommend for those who are in recovery from binge eating disorder.
1. The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care by Judith Matz, LCSW and Ellen Frankel, LCSW
This book, which was written by two therapists and specialists in treating individuals with binge eating disorder, is an incredible resource for those in recovery. It is engaging, easy to read, and offers lessons as well as brief exercises at the end of each chapter.
There are so many good sources of wisdom and inspiration in this book! One of my favorite lessons in the book is number 55, which reads, “Reaching for food when you’re not hungry can become an opportunity to learn something important about yourself. Welcome these moments.”
I also love lesson number 20, which says, “Once you become an attuned eater, reaching for food when you are not physically hungry signals that something is bothering you. Nudge yourself to learn more about your feelings.”
This book is truly a game-changer and I’d highly recommend picking up a copy here.
2. Eat What you Love, Love What you Eat for Binge Eating: A Mindful Eating Program for Healing Your Relationship with Food and Your Body by Michelle May, MD and Kari Anderson, DBH, LPC.
This book is a fantastic resource for those in recovery from binge eating disorder. It contains a variety of helpful tools and strategies from two amazing experts in the field of psychology and nutrition. Michelle May, MD, created the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Kari Anderson, DBH, LPC, is the President and Chief Clinical Director of The Binge Eating Treatment Center at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
It contains important concepts, such as the hunger and fullness scale, mindful eating, learning how to trust your body’s wisdom, mindful movement, and so many more!
I also love how this book incorporates principles of self-compassion and self-care. It is highly engaging and offers a step-by-step process for healing your relationship to food and your body. You can pick up a copy here.
3. The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling Start Living by Russ Harris.
This book is an easy to read introduction on a powerful clinical treatment called acceptance and commitment therapy. While this book is not directly related to binge-eating, it is incredibly helpful in terms of working on integrating aspects of mindfulness, changing your relationship to unhelpful thoughts, and then taking actions that are in alignment with your overarching values.
This book is unlike any other one that I have read on the topic of happiness and can help you to shift your perspective in so many ways.
You can grab a copy of the book here.
There is Hope
No one chooses to struggle with binge eating disorder. However, with the right resources and support you can fully recover. If you are struggling, it is so important that you reach out to a mental health professional. Reaching out for help when you are struggling is a sign of strength, not weakness.
It’s important to note that recovery is typically not a linear process. No matter where you are in your journey, it’s important to practice being kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can given the coping skills that you have, and you can also work to change and improve. It’s normal to have setbacks and to make mistakes, but what matters is that you learn from them and continue to work towards recovery.
Ultimately, I believe that you can make peace with food and your body, thus freeing up your time to pursue the things that you truly value.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer has a private practice specializing in working with adolescents and adults struggling with eating disorders (including binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and OSFED), body image issues, anxiety, and survivors of trauma. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD. Jennifer offers eating disorder recovery coaching via phone/Skype. Connect with Jennifer through her website at www.jenniferrollin.com