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November 1, 2017

Finding Your Motivation for Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman taking a break from international research

Contributor: Lauren Klancic, MAT, Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Anorexia and bulimia have always been the two heavy hitters in the world of eating disorders.

In fact, Binge eating disorder (BED) was not officially recognized as a legitimate diagnosis until the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was published in 2013.

Prior to that time, BED was placed in the category of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).  This delayed recognition still proves stigmatizing and problematic for many of those we see in residential care.

There might be an adolescent who is visibly afflicted with anorexia or a woman noticeably struggling with an addiction to bingeing and purging…and then there is a resident with BED who “just binges.”

Somehow this is seen by many as less valid. This resident could be reluctant to fully commit to treatment because she views herself as just not “sick enough,” even though she has a formal diagnosis of BED.

It is not unusual for a resident to claim she doesn’t actually qualify for care, or even more troubling, doesn’t deserve it.

Everyone deserves it.

Woman smelling a flower considering treatment programs

BED, a disease affecting millions of people, translates into massive binges in which a person consumes a tremendous amount of food in an out of control fashion.

This is always done in private, which means it is an illness with a tremendous amount of shame and self-disgust associated with it.

In order to recover from any addiction or disorder, an individual must be highly motivated. We work hard to help a resident discover what matters to her. Often, motivation is found in the following areas:

Medical Complications

Ingesting a massive amount of food at any given time is hard on the human body. Since damage is often not immediately seen, we work to educate residents on the trickle-down medical complications of ongoing BED.

The heart, blood pressure and hardship on the skeletal system if weight is a problem, are but a few of the medical consequences of this illness.

Financial Impact

Food is to the binger what drink is to the alcoholic. Often women who binge have an even greater sense of guilt because of the money they spend on food, money that could be spent on paying off credit card debt, purchasing new shoes for the kids, or socking away for a family vacation. It actually does add up.

Social Implications

BED is surrounded by secrecy. Whether a woman plans a binge by loading up at the grocery store, or going to a drive-through then sitting in her car, she must live under the radar and possibly lie to those in her life. It is her “dirty little secret.”

There is no way that she can tell the truth or try to rationalize the behavior to the world because no one will understand it.

Most people want to think of themselves as honest people; engaging in such ongoing deception is contrary to the self-image they want to embrace.

Meaningful Life

Woman with binge eating disorder

Throughout treatment, we beg the question of each resident: What does living a meaningful life look like to you? The answer is often a mix of that which is tangible and intangible. Having a career and a family are examples of concrete things.

Being a person of value, honesty, integrity, one who is open and vulnerable are examples of more abstract goals. The truth is hiding, bingeing, lying—none of these behaviors complement a meaningful life.

Although motivation is critical to recovery, there is no template, no “right” answer–it is as individual as the residents themselves.

If a woman wants to recover because of a relationship with God, or in order to be a better dog owner, that is great. The key is to find motivation, capitalize on it and find recovery.

Lauren Klancic photoAbout the Author: Lauren Klancic, MAT, is an Eating Disorder Specialist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. Primarily working in a group setting, Lauren also works with individuals to educate them about eating disorders and recovery; she also a advocates for them.

She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Western Kentucky University, as well as a dual Masters in Counseling and Art Therapy from Adler University.

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 November 1, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 1, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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