Contributor: Staff at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center
Binge eating is a behavior that is relatively common on certain occasions within our society, such as holiday gatherings and preparatory meals before marathons or other sporting events. However, this behavior can easily evolve into a diagnosable mental health condition called binge eating disorder. So, what is the treatment for binge eating disorder?
Prior research has identified low self-esteem, symptoms of anxiety or depression, difficulty regulating emotions, restricted eating habits, and distorted views on eating as the foundations of binge eating disorder.
A recent study from the Journal of Eating Disorders found that there is not a strong link between dietary restraint and false beliefs about eating. There is, however, a visible relationship between dietary restraint and the presence of binge eating behaviors. These findings contradict the basis of mental health treatment for eating disorders.
Previously, dietary restraint was thought to be more commonplace in eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa. These findings now indicate that there may be a stronger presence of dietary restraint in binge eating disorder and similar conditions, such as bulimia nervosa. The results of this research have an impact on how binge eating disorder will be treated in the near future.
New Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder
Many eating disorders benefit from a range of treatment methods to identify negative thinking patterns and instill more positive beliefs and lifestyle choices. Interventions to address the symptoms of binge eating disorder often include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and family therapy.
Results from this study indicate that a more integrated approach to binge eating disorder treatment would be most effective in addressing the negative thinking patterns associated with this disorder.
An integrated approach would allow women who are living with binge eating disorder to understand the thinking processes behind behaviors such as overeating, purging, bingeing, and restricting food. A holistic and comprehensive approach would also allow women to engage in therapy, along with members of their family.
This is especially important, as a maternal history of eating disorders and distorted views about eating have a large impact on eating disorders in girls and young women.
While genetics play a role in the development of eating disorders, being exposed and educated regarding inaccurate views about eating and dietary restriction also influences young girls. A mode of therapy that addresses concerns at the familial level is expected to be more effective in treating binge eating disorder.
Exposure-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Additional research in the International Journal of Eating Disorders references the use of exposure-based cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of restrictive and avoidant eating disorders. After an exposure-based CBT program, adolescent girls who participated in the study entered eating disorder remission and were able to maintain a healthy body weight along with age-appropriate nutritional intake.
This treatment also caused participants to display fewer food-related phobias, restrictive behaviors, distorted thinking patterns, and symptoms of anxiety. This study further demonstrates the importance of modifying thought processes to remediate the negative effects of eating disorders.
Integrated Eating Disorder Treatment Programs
Integrated eating disorder treatment programs have proven most effective when they focus on improving distorted food-related beliefs that are at the core of binge eating disorder. It is also important for integrated programs to address trauma histories and recovery principles during the treatment process. These major areas play a large role in each woman’s treatment engagement.
Not only should trauma be a core part of mental health evaluation, but it should also be treated as part of eating disorder care. Unaddressed trauma often has underlying effects and can manifest in various ways to complicate the course of treatment.
A thorough and integrated approach will identify sources of trauma, determine the impact of trauma on a woman’s function, and work to provide each woman with the tools they need to heal from trauma and eating disorders.
Integrated approaches are the key to finding healing from binge eating disorder. It is vital to ensure that each area of a woman’s life is addressed in order to instill the well-being she needs to find recovery.
Burton, A.L., and Abbott, M.J. (2019). Processes and pathways to binge eating: Development of an integrated cognitive and behavioral model of binge eating. Journal of Eating Disorders, 7(18). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-019-0248-0
Dumont, E.; Jansen, A.; Kroes, D.; De Haan, E.; and Mulkens, S. (2019). A new cognitive behavior therapy for adolescents with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in a day treatment setting: A clinical case series. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 52(4), 447-458. doi: 10.1002/eat.23053
About Our Sponsor:
At Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center outside of Chicago, Illinois, we provide specialized care for women and adolescent girls who are living with eating disorders, substance use disorders, and various mental health concerns. Our residential treatment and partial hospitalization programming (PHP) help our residents achieve lifelong recovery by combining clinically excellent treatment with spiritual and emotional growth. We provide care that is holistic, personalized, and nurturing, empowering women to be active participants in their wellness journeys.
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 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.
Reviewed & Approved on November 1, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
Published November 1, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com