There is a wide range of eating disorder symptoms. Each disordered behavior can cause emotional and physical harm, including Binge Eating Disorder (BED). BED is an eating disorder characterized by a pattern of binging that occurs at least once a week for three months or more .
Binges are more significant than over-eating. Everyone eats past the point of fullness occasionally. For something to be considered a binge, the amount of food has to be significantly larger than what most people would eat in the same amount of time.
For people with BED, these episodes often feel out-of-control and are followed by feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt . Just like other eating disorders, BED is often a way to cope with emotional distress.
Life transitions can cause significant amounts of stress. Even transitions that someone is excited about, such as getting married or accepting a new job, can be stressful. This is because every transition is a change that requires adjustment.
Adjusting to change can increase the risk that someone will turn to eating disorder behaviors as a way to cope. This includes people who are in recovery from BED.
While relapse is often part of the recovery process, there are ways to help maintain BED recovery during life transitions . Here are three tips for maintaining recovery from BED during times of transition:
Plan Ahead for Binge Eating Disorder Triggers
If you are in recovery, you may be aware of what things tend to trigger you to binge. Triggers can be emotional, physical, or environmental. If you know what might increase your risk for binging, make a plan to cope ahead. Coping ahead could include making a plan for how you will handle these triggers.
For example, maybe not having enough food in the fridge is a trigger. If you are going to be moving, it might be expected that you may not have as many groceries at first. Making a plan to have groceries delivered or making a plan for your meals during the moving process can help.
Self-care can be really important for managing stress. Self-care can be anything that helps you relax or recharge. Times of transition tend to be busy times, so finding realistic ways to take care of yourself is important.
Humans are like sponges. We can only soak up so much until we’re saturated. Self-care helps prevent us from becoming saturated with stress or exhaustion. Taking care of yourself could be as simple as listening to your favorite music or as extravagant as getting a massage.
Whatever healthy ways you can help yourself unwind and make stressful times more tolerable can help you maintain your recovery.
Support from other people can be really helpful, especially during difficult times. Support can come from friends, family, or treatment professionals. Whoever you choose for support, turning to others instead of the eating disorder is likely to be more satisfying and helpful in the long-run.
Having others to help you cope with the transition can help support and hold you accountable. This can ultimately help prevent a relapse.
It’s important to recognize that slip-ups are a normal part of recovery. If you are going through a life transition right now and you are engaged in disordered eating behaviors, it’s okay. You can still get back on track. Following the tips above can help you get back to your recovery and can help prevent further relapses.
References: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596  Costin, C. & Schubert-Grabb, G. (2012). 8 keys to recovery from an eating disorder. W.W. Norton & Company.
About the Author:
Samantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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 March 29, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on March 29, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC