10 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Binge eating disorder recovery can be a difficult journey. Perhaps you’re concerned that you’re moving too quickly or not getting enough progress. The good news is that you’re considering recovering and taking steps to get back on your feet.

Everyone goes through the same basic stages of recovery from addictive habits. These are referred to as “stages of change” by researchers. It’s a set of 5 steps that people do when they’re trying to recover from issue behaviors like binge eating. As you improve, understanding them can provide you with incentives and direction.

Before going into the stages of recovery of binge eating disorder, let’s have a look at some key statistics of binge eating disorder.

  • Binge eating disorder (BED) affects 8 percent of American adults at some point in their lives.
  • BED is caused by a hereditary component that accounts for around half of the risk.
  • A concomitant mood disorder affects nearly half of BED patients.
  • Anxiety issues affect more than half of BED patients.
  • Almost one out of every ten BED patients has a co-occurring substance addiction problem, the most common of which is alcoholism.
  • In post-bariatric individuals, loss-of-control eating or binge eating can be as high as 25 percent.
  • In healthcare situations, 30 percent of obese individuals attempting to lose weight fulfill diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

Here’s a breakdown of each step and what you can do today to aid your recovery.

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation

You have been hiding food or eating past your fullness threshold. Something is wrong, as your family and friends have observed. Perhaps they’ve attempted to chat to you about your eating habits. You do not see an issue, and you do not believe you require assistance. You may even be irritated with them for getting involved.

What you can do right now: Acknowledge that binge eating is detrimental to your health. It can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related issues.

Stage 2: Contemplation

You’re well aware that you have an eating disorder. You may have even considered seeking assistance. But you’re at a loss on what to do. You’re torn between your drive to improve and your urge to continue bingeing.

Consult a therapist, nutritionist, doctor, or other eating disorder expert right away. They will assist you in determining why you binge eat and how it changes your life.

Stage 3: Preparation

You’ve decided to make a change. To get started, all you need is a strategy. Your medical team will teach you how to do the following:

  • Dealing with stress and other issues without the use of food
  • When bad thoughts arise, deal with them.
  • Take care of yourself while you’re undergoing therapy.
  • Overcome any obstacles that may be in the path of your rehabilitation.

What you can do right now is talk to your closest family members and friends. Assemble a support group that you may call on for assistance when you need it.

Stage 4: Taking Action

You’ve put together a strategy, a treatment team, and a support network. It’s now time to deal with your eating disorder. You will acquire new healthy habits and ways of thinking in treatment that will keep you from bingeing.

What you can do right now: Recognize that this is a challenging stage. You might relapse. Please don’t give up. Have faith in your treatment team. They will collaborate with you to help you improve.

Stage 5: Maintenance

You have been in treatment for at least six months and have learned how to eat more nutritiously. You can now use the advice and practices you learned in therapy to help you get through difficult situations without resorting to food.

What you can do right now is: Concentrate on new hobbies that aren’t related to food. Join a club or take up a new pastime. Anxiety and other stressors should be avoided if you don’t want to overeat again.

Remember these ten key elements as you progress through the 5 stages of change and recovery:

  • You are in charge of your own recovery. You will determine when to seek treatment and who can assist you in achieving your goals.
  • If you personalize treatment to your strengths and needs, you will get the most from it.
  • You are in charge, and you have the right to ask for any assistance you require.
  • It’s not only about eating when it comes to recovery. It should include your friends, family, work, education, and faith, among other things.
  • Your treatment will not always proceed in a linear fashion. You might take a few steps backward now and again. Only when you recognize that you have the ability to change things for the better will you begin to take steps ahead and continue in that direction.
  • Recognize your skills and abilities. Develop your interests. They will assist you in forming relationships that will see you through this period of transition.
  • Share your experiences and learn from others who are dealing with eating disorders.
  • Embrace yourself as you are and have faith in your ability to overcome your eating disorder.
  • Take charge of your own health and well-being. To be healthy, you should learn coping techniques and other methods.
  • Have faith. Recognize that you can improve. Your friends and family will assist you in staying motivated.

In the U. S., binge eating disorders (BED) are the most common eating and feeding disorder.

BED is a recognized psychological illness that involves more than just food. To overcome the disease, those with it will almost certainly need a treatment plan devised by a health professional.

BED patients have episodes of eating excessively large amounts of food even when they are not hungry. They may experience a tremendous sense of remorse or humiliation after an event.

Binge episodes on a regular basis can cause weight gain, which can exacerbate health problems like heart disease and diabetes.

Thankfully, there are a variety of strategies you may use to reduce binge-eating episodes, both at home and with the assistance of a professional.

Here are some practical tips for overcoming binge eating.

Forget about the diet.

Fad diets are generally harmful, and research suggests that extremely restrictive eating habits can lead to binge eating bouts.

Fasting, for instance, was linked to an increased risk of binge eating in a study of 496 teenage girls.

In separate research of 103 women, abstinence from particular foods was linked to greater desires and a higher likelihood of overeating.

Concentrate on making healthy modifications rather than adopting diets that focus on excluding entire food groups or drastically reducing calorie consumption to lose weight rapidly.

Consume more whole, unrefined foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and limit your snack intake rather than eliminating them entirely from your diet. This can aid in the reduction of binge eating and the promotion of improved health.

Fasting or omitting particular meals from your diet has been linked to increased desires and overeating in studies. Rather than dieting or completely eliminating particular foods, focus on consuming healthful foods.

Don’t skip meals.

Among the most effective techniques to overcome binge eating is to establish and adhere to a regular meal plan.

Skipping meals can raise the risk of overeating and boost cravings.

A two-month study found that eating one big meal per day boosted blood sugar levels and the appetite hormone ghrelin more than taking 3 little meals per day.

Another study of 38 persons found that sticking to a regular eating schedule was linked to fewer binge-eating episodes.

Make a regular eating routine for yourself and stick to it.

Summary: Sticking to a regular eating schedule can lessen the risk of overeating and may be linked to reduced ghrelin and lower fasting blood glucose levels.

Develop a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness is a technique that entails paying attention to your feelings and listening to your body.

This strategy can assist a person to learn to detect when they are no longer hungry, which can help them avoid overeating.

According to a meta-analysis of 14 research, practicing mindfulness meditation reduced the likelihood of emotional and binge eating.

Another short study found that combining cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness can help people improve their eating habits and self-awareness.

Try listening to your body to figure out when you’re no longer hungry. Additionally, to develop good eating habits, start eating slowly and enjoy your food.

Drink plenty of water.

A simple but effective technique to reduce urges and stop overeating is to drink enough water throughout the day.

In fact, research suggests that drinking more water is connected to less appetite and calorie consumption.

In one research of 24 older persons, drinking 17 oz. (500 ml) of water prior to eating a meal reduced the intake of calories by 13 percent as compared to a control group.

Another study in the elderly found that consuming 13–17 oz (375–500 ml) of water thirty minutes before a meal reduced appetite and calorie consumption while enhancing feelings of fullness throughout the day.

Other research suggests that consuming more water can help with metabolism and weight loss.

The amount of water that each individual should drink each day is determined by a number of factors. As a result, it’s better to listen to your gut and drink when you are thirsty to stay properly hydrated.

Do some yoga.

Yoga is a stress-reduction and relaxation technique that integrates both the mind and body through specialized breathing exercises, positions, and meditation.

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Yoga has been shown in studies to promote good eating habits and minimize the risk of unhealthy eating.

In short research of 50 persons with BED, practicing yoga for 3 months resulted in a significant decrease in binge eating.

Another research of 20 girls revealed that pairing yoga with outpatient eating disorder therapy reduced anxiety, depression, and body image problems, all of which could be variables in emotional eating.

Yoga has also been shown to lower stress chemicals like cortisol, which helps keep stress in control and prevent binge eating.

Join the local yoga club to begin incorporating this sort of exercise into your daily routine. You can also practice at home using internet tools and videos.

Increase your fiber intake.

Fiber takes a long time to pass through your digestive system, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.

According to several studies, increasing fiber intake can lower desires, appetite, and food consumption.

Topping up twice daily with a type of fiber present in vegetables reduced hunger and calorie consumption while boosting fullness, according to small 2-week research.

Another research of ten adults found that consuming 16 grams of prebiotic fiber daily elevated levels of particular hormones that regulate fullness and reduced hunger symptoms significantly.

Fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lentils, and whole grains are just a few examples.

Get the kitchen in order.

Having a lot of trigger foods or junk food in the house might make binge eating a lot easier.

Keeping nutritious items on hand, on the other side, can help you avoid emotional eating by reducing the number of harmful options available.

Begin by replacing processed snack items such as chips, candy, and pre-packaged convenience foods with healthier options.

Having fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein-rich foods, seeds, and nuts in your kitchen will help you eat better and minimize your chance of binge eating unhealthy foods.

Consider going to the gym.

According to research, including exercise in your daily routine can help you avoid binge eating.

For example, 6-month research of 77 persons found that increasing weekly exercise activity prevented 81 percent of participants from binge eating.

Another study of 84 women revealed that combining cognitive behavioral therapy with regular exercise reduced binge eating frequency much better than therapy alone.

Furthermore, additional studies suggest that exercise might reduce stress and improve mood, which can help you avoid emotional eating.

Physical exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and sports are just a few examples of stress-relieving and binge-eating activities.

Always have breakfast.

Starting each day with a nutritious breakfast may lower the likelihood of binge eating later on.

Numerous studies have discovered that sticking to a regular meal schedule is linked to fewer binge-eating episodes and decreased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger.

Plus, eating the correct foods helps keep you satisfied throughout the day, reducing hunger and cravings.

For example, a 15-person study found that having a high-protein breakfast lowered ghrelin levels more than eating a high-carb breakfast.

However, a study of 48 adults found that consuming fiber- and protein-rich oatmeal improved hunger control and promoted fullness.

To avoid overeating, combine a few fiber-rich items, like vegetables, fruits, or whole grains, with a solid supply of protein.

Get adequate rest

Sleep deprivation may be related to binge eating since it affects your hunger and cravings.

In fact, a study of 146 participants indicated that those with BED had much greater symptoms of insomnia than those who had never had this problem.

Shorter sleep duration was linked to greater levels of the appetite hormone ghrelin and decreased levels of leptin, the hormone that promotes fullness, according to another big study.

Sleeping less than eight hours per night has also been connected to higher body weight.

To keep your hunger in line and limit your risk of binge eating, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

Consider getting therapy

 When recovering from a binge eating disorder, having a sympathetic someone to talk to about your worries, setbacks, and successes can be beneficial.

Group therapy also helps you deal with the underlying problems that accompany binge eating disorders, like anxiety, depression, and past trauma, all of which can lead to emotional eating.

To summarize, controlling your obsessive eating can be difficult but not impossible. It includes paying more attention to when and what you eat, practicing mindfulness, keeping a daily journal, and collaborating with your treatment team to help you heal.

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