What to do if a Doctor Dismisses Your Binge Eating

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Binge eating disorder is a serious eating disorder that unfortunately may be overlooked by medical providers due to stereotypes and/or a lack of information about the illness. Understanding the complexities of binge eating disorder may provide insights into why binge eating often goes unnoticed in a medical setting and what individuals can do about it.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by repetitive and uncontrolled episodes of excessive food consumption. Bingeing often leaves individuals feeling shame, guilt, or disgust. However, in contrast to bulimia, those with binge eating do not engage in compensatory measures, such as purging, following binges. Binge eating is often followed by dieting attempts that typically turn into a pattern of yo-yo dieting. In addition to causing negative emotions, frequent bingeing can also cause health-related problems, including obesity.

Binge eating disorder can affect anyone, regardless of appearance. While the illness is most common in individuals who are overweight, binge eating disorder can be diagnosed at any weight. In addition to affecting any individual, binge eating is the most common eating disorder.

Myths and Facts about Binge Eating

The truth about binge eating disorder is that it is a real, serious eating disorder that requires proper treatment. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding binge eating disorder that perpetuate stereotypes and inaccurate information, making a binge eating disorder diagnosis and treatment challenging.

Myth 1: Binge eating disorder only affects overweight individuals.

Fact: Binge eating disorder can affect any individual, regardless of their size, weight, shape, or appearance.

Myth 2: Binge eating disorder is just overeating.

Fact: Binge eating disorder is not just overeating. Binge eating disorder is a cycle of repetitive binge episodes followed by distressing emotions.

Myth 3: Binge eating is about self-control.

Fact: Eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, are not about an individual’s willpower or  self-control. An individual with binge eating disorder cannot simply “control” their actions and return to eating normally. Binge eating disorder is complex and has roots in biology, psychology, society, behavior, and more.

Myth 4: Losing weight cures binge eating disorder.

Fact: Binge eating disorder is not cured by losing weight, especially because binge eating disorder often involves attempts and yo-yo dieting that result in fluctuating weight loss and weight gain. Binge eating also involves cognitive thought patterns, which are not changed with weight loss. Due to the complexity of binge eating disorder, recovery often needs to address an individual’s behaviors, thoughts, and patterns—not just their eating.

How to get the care you need for binge eating disorder

Unfortunately, the myths and stereotypes surrounding binge eating disorder have led it to be underdiagnosed by medical professionals. While providers are becoming increasingly more aware of eating disorder signs, symptoms, and treatment options, there is still a gap in the understanding of binge eating disorder. If you are concerned about your eating behaviors, it is important to go into medical appointments prepared to advocate for yourself and your care. Below are some tips to do so.

Before an appointment:

  1. Be open about why you are making a medical appointment. By calling to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns about binge eating, you ensure your provider is prepared to assist you.
  2. Be specific. Chances are your medical provider will ask you what you are experiencing and why you are concerned about your eating. Be honest and open about your eating behaviors, related mental health, and other concerns. By giving your provider the full picture, you are more likely to receive better resources and treatment options as they will be tailored to your specific situation.
  3. Ask questions. If you are confused about what your provider is recommending, ask questions. If you aren’t sure about a diagnosis, ask for clarification.

If a medical provider dismissed your concerns:

  1. Advocate for yourself. You are your own best ally, so if you feel as if your provider dismissed your concerns, it is okay to reiterate them or to ask to see another provider for a second opinion.
  2. Know that binge eating disorder is real and requires a more comprehensive treatment than just weight loss. If your provider recommends dieting and losing weight but nothing else, we suggest seeking a second opinion at an eating disorder specialty center. Call an eating disorder treatment center like The Emily Program. Treatment centers that specialize in eating disorder care and recovery often have updated information and an enhanced understanding of eating disorders. Treatment centers like The Emily Program can walk individuals through an eating disorder assessment, hear their concerns, and recommend a personalized treatment plan. This plan often includes therapy, nutrition education, medical management, and more. 

If you are concerned about your eating behaviors, reach out to us at The Emily Program. We are a warm and welcoming treatment center that provides specialized treatment for all types of eating disorders. The Emily Program offers individualized care and we walk alongside clients on their road to recovery. You can learn more about The Emily Program or start an eating disorder assessment by calling 1-888-364-5977.

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