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October 5, 2017

Benefits of Taking the Focus off Weight in BED Treatment

Woman near a lake

Weight stigma in our culture continues to cause a host of negative issues and misunderstandings about body sizes.

There is an assumption that being overweight or obese is connected with sickness, poor health, and many other physical ailments.

In addition to this, there is a misconception that individuals who are overweight or obese may have a lack of self-control when it comes to food and eating, but in reality, weight is not a defining factor of a person’s health.

Sadly, these stigmas are hurtful to our society as a whole, particularly those who may be struggling with eating disorders.

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, are often stereotyped by body size. The truth is that a person can have an eating disorder regardless of their weight or body size, and eating disorders develop for a variety of complex reasons.

Misconceptions About Binge Eating Disorder

Perhaps those who are most affected by weight stigma in our society are those dealing with binge eating disorder. Many sufferers may believe that they are not “sick enough” for treatment, simply because they may not be underweight.

This belief can postpone and delay much-needed treatment interventions for binge eating disorder, and make it more difficult for a person to connect to resources for help.

There is also a misconception that binge eating is simply a “lack of self-control” when it comes to food and eating. However, binge eating disorder has been shown to be influenced by several factors, including biological and environmental components.

Most likely, a person who is dealing with binge eating has many underlying issues that may be affecting urges to engage in binge eating, including biological factors, like genetics, neurobiology, hormones, etc., or environmental components, like a history of trauma, other mood disorders, and more.

The combination of these complex factors can contribute to the development of binge eating disorder.

Some individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder may become overweight or obese as a result of recurring binging episodes on large quantities of food. However, it is important to understand that this not necessarily the case for all individuals who may be dealing with this eating disorder.

For those who may be struggling with changes in body size, losing weight may become a top priority, even above treatment for binge eating; however, this approach can be detrimental for someone seeking help and healing.

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Research has identified that individuals with binge eating disorder (BED) may be an increased risk of overweight and obesity, and individuals with eating disorders are more than twice as likely to reach out to health professionals or weight loss centers for weight reduction assistance rather than treatment for their eating disorder [2].

Woman standing near waterHowever, seeking out help for weight loss rather than binge eating disorder treatment can increase many of the complications associated with this eating disorder.  Weight loss treatment primarily focuses on reaching a specific weight goal while basically ignoring underlying issues, including biological causes and psychological factors that may be contributing to an eating disorder [3].

The most effective forms of treatment for binge eating disorder recovery should involve a comprehensive approach that includes medical care, psychiatric treatment, pharmacological interventions and nutrition rehabilitation.

This approach to binge eating disorder provides more holistic care, giving a person the opportunity to heal while simultaneously addressing underlying factors related to binge eating disorder.

While individuals recovering from binge eating may not necessarily see a “quick fix” in terms of weight loss, receiving comprehensive care provides the basis for long-term recovery from this eating disorder.

Focusing on Long-Term Goals

Losing weight may seem like a solution to binge eating disorder, but it is important to remember that BED is a severe psychiatric illness. Attempting weight loss as a way to “control” behaviors associated with binge eating can actually exacerbate the problem, worsening issues may be related to this mental health condition.

Woman in hat struggling with Binge Eating DisorderIf you or someone you care for may be struggling with binge eating disorder, you may primarily be concerned with losing weight or simply feel uncomfortable in your own body.

While weight loss may seem like a practical solution for your struggles, this may often result in more problematic issues in the long-run.

Be sure to seek out the help and support of a qualified treatment center that specializes in binge eating disorder to get the appropriate help and care you need.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1]: National Eating Disorder Association, “Factors that “https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/factors-may-contribute-eating-disorders
[2]: Tina Peckmezian, Phillipa Hay. A systematic review and narrative synthesis of interventions for uncomplicated obesity: weight loss, well-being and impact on eating disorders. Journal of Eating Disorders, 2017, Volume 5, Number 1, Page 1
[3]: Jacobi C, Hayward C, de Zwaan M, Kraemer HC, Agras SW. Coming to terms with risk factors for eating disorders: Application of risk terminology and suggestions for a general taxonomy. Psychol Bull. 2004;130:19–65.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 5, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 5, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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