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August 8, 2017

Importance of Individualized Binge Eating Disorder Treatment

Man eating hamburger

Contributor: Stephanie Ceranec, MEd, LPC, Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center

Binge eating disorder (BED) continues to impact millions of individuals in the United States alone, affecting more people than anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa combined [1].

However, many of the individuals who suffer from BED are not connecting to the help and resources needed for recovery and treatment. One research survey found that among adults in the United States who met the criteria for binge eating disorder, only three percent received a formal eating disorder diagnosis from their health care provider [2].

The reason so few received a formal eating disorder diagnosis could be influenced by the many stigmas that continue to surround eating disorders, BED specifically.

Individuals with BED may inherently believe that they are not “sick enough” to need professional treatment and intervention or that the eating disorder behaviors are simply related to a lack of self-control.

These misunderstandings could not be farther from the truth and contribute to the overall stigma around BED that prevents many individuals from receiving the help and care needed for recovery.

Understanding Factors That Contribute to BED

The reality is that BED is a psychiatric illness with biological and psychosocial implications. While the specific causes of BED are unknown, researchers have identified several potential risk factors that may contribute to the development of BED.

Some of these influencing components include biological causes, such as an imbalance in hormones and neurotransmitters and genetic predisposition, which cannot necessarily be prevented.

Other risk factors may be psychological or environmental by nature, such as the influence of diet culture, family history of mental illness, the experience of trauma, and/or other co-occurring mood disorders, like depression or anxiety.

The combination of these various components can increase a person’s overall risk for developing BED.

Woman eating fries struggling with Binge Eating DisorderOne important thing to understand is that eating disorders like BED do not discriminate. This means that a person can develop BED regardless of their gender, race, culture, age, religion and socioeconomic background.

Weight and body size is also not a risk factor for BED. BED is often stereotyped by body types and sizes, where many people believe that people who are overweight and obese have BED, or that those who struggle with BED are obese.

However, individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder can fall within a variety of body sizes and can be of normal weight, overweight or obese. Weight should not be a factor that prevents individuals from seeking treatment, yet many people judge how “sick” they are based on their weight alone.

The Need For Individualized Treatment

Because of the many complex factors that can influence the development of BED, it is important that binge eating disorder treatment is both comprehensive and individualized.

The most effective treatments for binge eating disorder will involve a multidisciplinary approach that includes medical nutrition therapy, psychotherapy, medication management, support groups, and medical/psychiatric stabilization [3].

Taking an approach of whole person care is essential to developing an individualized treatment plan that incorporates a person’s unique needs for recovery and to optimize the effectiveness of treatment.

Woman eating food

The whole person care approach may mean taking a look at an individual’s entire history to complete an extensive medical and psychiatric assessment. From this information, a team of eating disorder specialists can better understand the specific treatment approaches that may work best for binge eating disorder recovery.

It is also important to understand that eating disorder treatment is not necessarily a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and this also speaks to the need for an individualized approach to binge eating disorder recovery.

If a person with BED has suffered from psychological trauma or has a co-occurring disorder, such as substance abuse addiction or mental illness, these factors will specifically need to be addressed in BED treatment for optimal chances of healing and recovery.

Individualized BED treatment can also help a person better understand the emotional triggers for binges and related underlying causes that may be unique to them. Learning and developing healthy coping mechanisms that individually support a person where they are at in their recovery journey is also essential for healing.

Connecting to Support

If you or a loved one has struggled with BED, it is important to know that you are alone. Perhaps you have tried some form of treatment, only to find that it hasn’t worked for you or allowed you to find recovery and healing.

Connect with a treatment center and eating disorder professionals that specialize in individualized binge eating disorder recovery to help support your journey to healing. Full recovery is possible for you, regardless of what your past has been, and you deserve healing.

Stephanie Ceranec photoAbout the author: Stephanie oversees the Eating Disorder Specialist team. She provides awareness, training and education to clinical and support staff. In addition, Stephanie provides group therapy and works in a collaborative team effort in providing eating disorder treatment.
Stephanie began at Timberline Knolls as a Behavioral Health Specialist and found her path as an Eating Disorder Specialist. Prior to Timberline, Stephanie worked in a Chicago Public School and assisted individuals with disabilities to build connections in the community through activities and exposures.

Stephanie received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University and Masters in Education with a focus on both School and Community Counseling from DePaul University.


[1]: Binge Eating Disorder Association, “What is BED?”, https://bedaonline.com/understanding-binge-eating-disorder/what-is-bed/ Accessed 26 July 2017
[2]: Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., Chiu, W. T., Dietz, A. C., Hudson, J. I., Shahly, V., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J., Angermeyer, M.C., Benjet, C., Bruffaerts, R., de Girolamo, G., de Graaf, R., Maria Haro, J., Kovess-Masfety, V., O’Neill, S., Posada-Villa, J., Sasu, C., Scott, K., Viana, M. C., & Xavier, M. (2013, May 1). The prevalence and correlates of binge eating disorder in the world health organization world mental health surveys [Abstract]. Biological Psychiatry, 73(9), 904-914.
[3]: DeAngelis, T. (2002, March). Binge-eating disorder: What’s the best treatment?

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 August 8, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 8, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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