Do you feel like your eating habits are in charge of your life? Are you hiding your overeating episodes because you’re ashamed your friends and loved ones will say something? Are you planning your days around your binge episodes?
If so, you may be one of the nearly 3 million Americans who have binge eating disorder (BED). There isn’t one set treatment, but there are things you can do to recover.
Steps for Recovery
Binge eating can take many different forms and can take place any time of the day. The actual food you eat isn’t as important as how much you’re eating and how you feel both during and after a binge.
Here are 10 steps you can take to recover from binge eating:
1. Identify the Behavior
Acknowledging a relapse is the first step to recovering. After you ask yourself how you’re feeling, look at your eating behaviors over the past week. Call out and recognize any patterns of disordered eating, such as restricting your eating and then overeating. Documenting your eating in a journal may help you identify eating trends.
2. Assess Your Mental State
The next step is being honest. Even if you haven’t binged yet, certain thought processes and feelings can put you at an increased risk for a relapse. Ask yourself some questions. Are you obsessing about what you eat, what you weigh, or how you look? Are you lonely, depressed, or stressed? Any of these negative thought processes could trigger an overeating binge.
3. Seek Help
Now that you’ve acknowledged your relapse, it’s time to reach out for help. If you already have a healthcare professional or team member you trust, call them first. Since they know you and your situation, they’ll be able to assess the next steps you can take to get back to healthy habits. If you don’t already have a doctor, your insurance provider may be able to give you recommendations. Your primary care doctor can also help you find a specialist trained in helping people with BED.
4. Find the Right Treatment for You
There are various types of treatments available for BED. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and medication for related conditions. Most eating disorder treatment teams have a range of experts, including nutritionists and psychologists. Having a team of professionals on your side that you can trust is important for a successful recovery.
5. Determine Your Triggers
One of the things a treatment team will help you do is identify what particular foods, emotions, or situations trigger your disordered eating. You may also want to pay attention to when you binge. The time of day can be a trigger. Everyone’s triggers are different, but working with your healthcare team can make identifying them easier.
6. Set Yourself up for Success
Once you determine what situations put you at the most risk for another relapse, you’ll be better able to avoid those situations in the future. For example, if fatigue is a trigger for you, then try to go to bed a little earlier each night and work with your nutritionist on food choices that will improve your energy levels. If loneliness is a trigger for you, reach out and take part in a group activity where you can meet new people. Whatever your emotional or situational triggers are, you should work with your treatment team to come up with solutions to best avoid or manage them.
7. Make a Plan
Another way to help avoid a future relapse is to make a prevention plan with your treatment team. This will likely put into words all the particulars of your situation, such as your history, your triggers, and your potential red flags. Revisit it when you’re feeling susceptible to a binge.
8. Tell Trusted Friends or Family
While you may not want to tell everyone about your disordered eating, telling a few friends or family members can help with your recovery. Too many people with eating disorders suffer in silence. Speaking up gives a voice to your condition and your health.
9. Join a Support Group
In addition to participating in group therapy treatment sessions, joining a support group may also help keep you on track. A support group led by one of your peers can sometimes feel less intimidating than group therapy, which is typically led by a trained professional. Use the Eating Disorder Information and Referral Center to find support groups in your area.
10. Don’t Judge Yourself
This may be the most important thing you can do for long-term recovery. Whether you’re ashamed of your disorder as a whole or of a recent relapse, remember that having BED doesn’t define who you are as an individual. With the right help, it’s something that can be treated.
While taking these 10 steps won’t guarantee a recovery, they can help you regain control. Talk to your healthcare professional about others steps you can take.