Anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder knows that it can feel isolating and hopeless at times. You may be afraid to reach out to others, or fear nobody else will understand. However, one of the most powerful tools for healing when you have an eating disorder is to connect with others who understand your pain and offer support.
Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder that is characterized by eating a larger-than-normal amount of food over a short period of time, and a sense of lack of control over how much you eat.
Key features of the disorder include: recurrent, persistent episodes of binge eating, distress, and failure to purge after eating.
A binge eating episode is associated with at least three of the following:
- eating much more rapidly than usual
- eating until you feel uncomfortably full
- eating a large amount of food when you aren’t hungry
- eating alone because of embarrassment
- feeling disgusted with yourself
- feeling depressed and/or guilty after you’ve overeaten
Like other eating disorders, BED is serious and can be life-threating if left untreated. Medical complications associated with BED include obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and problems with fertility or pregnancy.
BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. It affects 3.5 percent of women, 2 percent of men, and 1.5 percent of kids between 13 and 18 years old.
If you have BED it’s important to seek treatment from a specialist. However, self-help books and listening materials, like podcasts, can also be helpful tools. They can be especially valuable if there are no support groups in your area.
These podcasts all address the topic with delicacy and compassion, featuring personal stories and offering helpful advice.
1. Progress Not Perfection
Alen Standish struggled with BED himself in what he describes as a “tough 15-year journey.” As part of his recovery, Standish started Quit Binge Eating, a hub for self-help resources to overcome BED. In his podcast, he talks about his own struggles — what worked and what didn’t — and offers tips for certain stressful situations where it’s hard to avoid food, like holidays. He also brings on professionals trained for treating BED or related issues, as well as others who have the disorder and want to share their stories. Listen here.
2. Adventures in Happiness with Jessica Ortner
Jessica Ortner is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Tapping Solution for Weight Loss and Body Confidence.” She has been interviewing experts in the personal development field since 2007. Ortner also struggled with body image issues and binge eating, and says that tapping — a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology — helped. In her podcast, Ortner interviews other experts whom she feels can offer insight and the tools needed to help people delve deeper into issues surrounding recovery. Listen here.
3. Binge Dieting
Betsy Thurston, M.P.H., R.D., is an integrative health coach and eating disorder specialist. In her professional life, she helps her clients address behavioral issues surrounding BED and other eating disorders, as well as learn how to plan and prepare healthy meals. In her podcast, she teaches healthy ways to avoid binge eating, talks about cravings and the connection between eating and spirituality, and shows you how to develop a positive relationship between food and your body. Listen here.
4. It’s All About Inner Effort
Also from Alen Standish, this podcast is a platform for Standish to provide people with an outlet to share their unique stories about living with the disorder. In “Inner Effort,” Standish asks individuals in-depth questions about their struggles — past or present — with BED. In doing so, he hopes to draw out helpful coping tools to help listeners better manage difficult situations in their lives. Listen here.
5. Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women (And a Few Men)
Steve Mirsky discusses science and technology news and advances each week in his “Science Talk” podcast for Scientific American. This episode features an interview with Trisha Gura, a molecular biologist, journalist, and author of the book “Lying In Weight.” Listen in as she addresses the profound effect eating disorders have on lives of people who have them. Listen here.
While these podcasts can be inspiring and useful in your recovery, they aren’t a substitute for help from medical professionals. Many people who have eating disorders will need treatment from a mental health professional to address the psychological issues, like depression and anxiety, and from a medical doctor to address any physical health issues.
Everyone’s story is different, and so is the way we heal. You can get better and you’re not alone. Use all of the tools available to help with your recovery.