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Binge Eating Disorder

Contact us about in-person and virtual treatment options for binge eating.

Binge eating disorder traps people in a vicious cycle. For those with this disorder, the urge to consume massive amounts of food feels uncontrollable, leading to guilt, shame, and physical consequences. The pressure to “make up” for these binges often fuels restrictive eating, only to trigger the cycle all over again.

There is a way out. At The Emily Program, we offer personalized treatment specifically designed for those with binge eating disorder. We go beyond food with a whole-person approach, addressing the medical, nutritional, and psychological aspects of the condition to help you achieve long-term recovery.

A future free from binge eating is possible. We can help you get there.

Break the binge eating cycle

Binge eating disorder typically involves excessive food intake while feeling a loss of control with food. Binge eating behaviors may be used to soothe negative emotions, but the “comfort” it brings does not last. People with binge eating disorder often swing to the other extreme and begin highly restrictive diets, which often ends in bingeing again—and more negative feelings. However, binge eating disorder is more than just yo-yo dieting; it’s a serious brain-based illness. Those affected by binge eating disorder often exhibit an extreme fixation on food and body that significantly impairs their daily lives. 

To compound the situation, a diagnosis of binge eating disorder may be accompanied by other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Binge eating disorder may also contribute to physical conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Binge eating disorder can affect anyone of any weight, size, shape, age, or gender.

The Emily Program understands the physical and emotional strain of binge eating disorder (BED). We’re here to help with personalized treatment programs that free you or your loved one from the ravaging ups and downs of BED, paving the way to a more peaceful relationship with food and self.

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A person stepping onto a scale
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Binge eating disorder warning signs

Binge eating is more than overeating. Be on the lookout for these possible behavioral, physical, and psychological indications of BED:

  • Frequent episodes of overeating, or binge eating, occurring at least once a week over three months
  • Using food to cope with negative emotions, but feeling distressed, disgusted, guilty, or depressed instead
  • No compensatory behaviors to “make up” for the calorie intake, such as purging or over-exercise
  • Feelings of loss of control, self-loathing, depression, anxiety, and shame
  • Insomnia, joint or muscle pain, and/or headaches
  • Social withdrawal
  • Menstrual problems
  • Suicidal thoughts

Do you think you or someone you know might be struggling with binge eating? Take our eating disorder assessment quiz.

If you or someone you know needs help with binge eating disorder, reach out today.

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Health risks of binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders in the United States, affecting approximately 2.2% of the population. Despite its prevalence, binge eating often goes unrecognized, particularly in those living in larger bodies. Pervasive weight stigma can prevent individuals in larger bodies from seeking help for their disordered eating symptoms due to very real fears of their concerns being dismissed or overlooked by healthcare professionals. Such weight stigmatization might present in the form of unsolicited weight loss or dieting recommendations, which only exacerbates binge eating symptoms. This stigma not only impedes the detection of binge eating and impacts a person’s access to proper care, but also influences how health risks associated with binge eating are perceived and treated.

Binge eating disorder can profoundly affect various organ systems, including:

  • Cardiovascular System: Potentially impacting heart health
  • Gastrointestinal System: Affecting digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Nervous System: Influencing both mental and physical health
  • Endocrine System: Affecting hormonal balance and regulation

Read more about the physical effects of binge eating.


30 million

individuals in the U.S. alone will struggle with an eating disorder

1 in 3

people with an eating disorder is male

50%

of people with eating disorders need a higher level of care to recover

Over 2%

of the U.S. population is affected by binge eating disorder


Understanding the causes of binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is a complex condition influenced by a blend of genetic, psychological, and sociocultural factors. It’s important to recognize that BED is not a choice but rather a disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of weight, size, or shape.

Genetic Factors:

  • Genetic variations affecting the brain’s reward response
  • Variations in gene regions associated with appetite and emotional regulation
  • Disruption in hormones regulating hunger and satiety, such as leptin and ghrelin

Psychological Factors:

  • Low self-esteem and negative body image
  • Feelings of inadequacy or loneliness
  • Co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders or a history of trauma

Social Factors:

  • Cultural emphasis on dieting and weight loss
  • Weight-related teasing, bullying, or discrimination
  • Social isolation, leading to an increased focus on food as a source of comfort
A woman standing by her fridge eating

Binge eating disorder treatment at The Emily Program

The Emily Program recognizes the importance of a multidisciplinary, tailored approach to healing from binge eating disorder. Those affected by binge eating behaviors often grapple with feelings of isolation accompanied by shame, self-doubt, and hopelessness. Our programs address these unique, deeply personal experiences with empathy and understanding.

Key Components of Our Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Approach:

  • Comprehensive Care: The Emily Program believes in the power of collective expertise. Treatment for an eating disorder—whether anorexiabulimiaOSFEDARFID, or binge eating—should consider the whole person, including the range of complex factors related to disordered eating patterns. Expert, multidisciplinary care enables us to address every aspect of the eating disorder for lasting healing.
  • Individualized Treatment Plans: Every journey to recovery is unique. That’s why we craft personalized treatment plans that respond to each individual’s intersecting identities and specific challenges and needs. Treatment is tailored to each patient and designed to be as effective and meaningful as possible.
  • In-depth Exploration: Binge eating disorder has nothing to do with a lack of willpower or any personal shortcoming. For someone struggling with binge eating, separating from this mindset is difficult but possible. Our approach aims to interrupt the feelings of personal failure that fuel the binge-restriction cycle. With the support of our team, clients will work through shame, foster self-compassion, build up distress tolerance, overcome eating challenges, and better understand the nature of their illness. 
  • Holistic Approach: The Emily Program understands that binge eating disorder often co-occurs with other health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and trauma. Our extensive expertise creates a space for healing and moving beyond the interconnected aspects of binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder treatment options 

The Emily Program offers a variety of treatment options to honor the deeply personal recovery journey from binge eating disorder:

  • Residential Treatment: For those who need 24/7 care and a structured environment, our residential eating disorder treatment offers intensive support and medical monitoring, therapeutic meals, continuous supervision, individual and group therapies, and personalized care plans tailored to each client’s specific needs.
  • Day Treatment: Designed for individuals who require structured daily support without needing an overnight stay, our PHP/IDP and IOP treatment programs include individual therapy, group therapy, and therapeutic meals, allowing clients to return home in the evenings.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Catering to those who have advanced in their recovery journey or require a lower level of care, our outpatient treatment offers flexibility, enabling clients to attend therapy sessions, nutrition counseling, and group therapies based on a schedule that fits into their everyday lives.
  • Virtual Treatment: The Emily Program provides virtual treatment options to meet our clients where they’re at. Virtual treatment ensures clients can access support, counseling, and therapy sessions from their homes, enhancing the accessibility and convenience of treatment.
  • CARE IOP: In response to feedback from former clients with binge eating disorder, The Emily Program introduced CARE IOP, a virtual intensive outpatient program specifically for adults with binge eating disorder or OSFED with a pattern of binge eating. CARE IOP’s curriculum considers the intersectional domains of client identities, providing clients with ongoing opportunities for supported self-accountability while practicing eating, food preparation, and coping within the comfort of their own private space.

Each treatment path at The Emily Program is thoughtfully designed to ensure that anyone struggling with binge eating disorder finds the support, direction, and care necessary for their journey toward recovery, regardless of their current life situation or recovery stage.

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Two women smiling
A male dietitian meets with a group of clients

The first step in getting treatment for binge eating disorder is to reach out and schedule an assessment. No referral is needed. Give us a call at 1-888-364-5977 or complete an online form. We’re available seven days a week to answer your questions and help you get started on the path to recovery from binge eating disorder.

Recovery from binge eating disorder begins here.
Get started today.

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Additional resources about binge eating disorder

Eating disorders like binge eating disorder are still widely misunderstood. That’s why we provide a variety of resources to help navigate these complex illnesses. Check out these resources for information about binge eating disorder and eating disorders in general:


Frequently asked questions about binge eating disorder

What is the first step for getting binge eating disorder help?

Binge eating disorder doesn’t have to be forever. Don’t let misconceptions about this serious illness keep you from seeking the support needed for healing. At The Emily Program, we know that lasting recovery from binge eating disorder is possible—because we’ve seen it firsthand. If you believe that you or someone you know may be struggling with binge eating disorder, reach out for a free assessment. There’s no commitment to pursue care, and no referral is needed before contacting us. Visit our Get Help webpage to get in touch today. We’re here to address your concerns, answer any questions about our binge eating treatment, and get you, your loved one, or your patient on the path toward reclaiming a peaceful relationship with food and body.

How long will I be in treatment for binge eating disorder?

Recovery from an eating disorder looks different for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to healing, which is why The Emily Program individualizes our treatment to fit each client’s unique circumstances. The duration of care varies from client to client based on the severity of your symptoms, your response to treatment, your personal goals, and more. 


The Emily Program offers a range of treatment options, including residential, partial hospitalization/intensive day (PHP/IDP), intensive outpatient (IOP), and outpatient programming. Our experts will explore these options with you and tailor to meet your specific needs. Our multidisciplinary care teams will work collaboratively with you and your community of support to develop a treatment plan that is not only specific to you, but is also specifically designed to prevent relapse, a common challenge for these illnesses.

What is The Emily Program’s approach to binge eating disorder treatment?

No matter the level of care you’re in, The Emily Program’s binge eating disorder treatment will have the same goals: to address any of the underlying emotional or psychological issues that are maintaining your eating disorder, help you overcome your disordered behaviors, support you in developing healthy coping skills, establish health-promoting eating patterns, and promote self-compassion. If your binge eating has resulted in nutritional deficiencies or medical complications, we’ll address those, as well.

The Emily Program takes an individualized approach to binge eating disorder treatment, tailoring care to the needs of each client and their support network. You’ll be matched with a multidisciplinary care team—which includes medical providers, dietitians, and psychiatrists—to treat you as a whole person. We address the range of physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of your eating disorder, rather than just targeting your individual symptoms. This holistic approach emphasizes self-compassion, body acceptance, and long-term recovery. Our goal is to provide you with tailored, compassionate, and effective care that honors your unique circumstances and supports you in building healthier relationships with food, your bodies, and yourself.

At The Emily Program, we use a variety of evidence-based modalities, adapting them to your needs as they shift over the course of treatment. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect in binge eating disorder treatment at The Emily Program:

  • Therapy sessions in individual, group, and family settings informed by a unique blend of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family-based therapy (FBT)
  • Nutritional guidance from our registered dietitians, involving nutrition therapy, therapeutic meal support, and nutrition therapy and education
  • Medication management and psychiatric care to address underlying conditions contributing to the eating disorder
  • A supportive, judgment-free environment that honors the severity and life-limiting nature of your illness

Learn about our specialized stand-alone program for binge eating disorder, virtual CARE IOP, currently available in Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington.

How should I talk to my child about my concerns?

If you notice the signs of binge eating disorder in your child, address it as soon as possible, instead of waiting to see if it resolves itself. Eating disorders require professional treatment with a multidisciplinary team of experts; they are not passing phases that go away on their own. 

For children 11 and under, we recommend sharing your concerns with your child’s pediatrician, primary care physician, or therapist for advice on what to do next. The following conversation guidelines are meant for adolescents 12 and older: 

Before the conversation: 

Consider how, where, and when you have this discussion. Give yourself plenty of time; you don’t want to be in the middle of the conversion and have to cut it short. This will be a very personal and vulnerable conversation for your adolescent — therefore, it’s important to create a safe environment and only have essential people there. Make sure to come to the discussion with specific binge eating disorder behaviors you’ve noticed in your loved one and why these behaviors concern you. 

You are likely worried about how these harmful BED behaviors are affecting your child. This fear for your adolescent’s well-being may cause you to want to be confrontational — do your best to resist this urge. Your fear and anxiety are understandable, but the conversation will go much smoother if you enter in a less heightened emotional state. Take time to gather your thoughts beforehand so that you can approach the conversation calmly and empathetically. 

Unfortunately, eating disorders are still very misunderstood in our culture, making it essential to educate yourself before talking to your adolescent. Binge eating disorder, for example, is sometimes regarded as less serious than the other diagnoses. It’s also commonly misunderstood as a condition only affecting people in larger bodies, or one that willpower alone can fix. These myths are dangerous and untrue.

Binge eating disorder is a complex and dangerous illness that often comes with intense feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing. It is natural to be concerned about the outward symptoms of BED (binge eating, intense dieting, hiding food, only eating alone, etc.), however, focusing too much on these behaviors can reinforce your adolescent’s harmful eating disorder thoughts. These thoughts can include, “There is something wrong with me,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m bad.” We are not suggesting you ignore these outward behaviors. Instead, try to come from a place of non-judgment. Eating disorders require treatment from professionals — doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, and registered dietitians — to treat the serious internal and external aspects of the illness, they are not a choice or a personal failing. 

While it’s important to educate yourself, you are not required to know everything about BED  to have this talk with your child. You can find trustworthy resources on our Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Facts pages.

Your loved one may cast your concerns aside or provide excuses for their disordered behaviors. They may be so entrenched in their illness that they do not see their actions or thoughts as an issue. On the other hand, they may feel relieved that you’ve noticed what they’re going through. Being confronted about an eating disorder can be unnerving for those experiencing them and can bring about a range of reactions. 

Make it clear to your loved one that you are taking their eating disorder seriously. If your adolescent is resistant to receiving your concerns, it may help to point out that you’ve noticed that they appear to have less energy, joy, or time to spend doing things they love. Hearing how much you care for them is essential for your child to hear. 

If your first conversation with your adolescent doesn’t go well, ask them to think over what you’ve discussed and tell them you’ll talk again soon. Do not wait more than a couple of days before talking about your concerns again. Eating disorders often convince the people experiencing them that their behaviors aren’t “that bad” and they can “handle it” themselves. No matter how much your child tries to convince you that their disordered patterns are not a “big deal,” stick to your message. Express how much they matter to you and lead with curiosity, not judgment. Here are some examples of how to start a conversation about their binge eating disorder symptoms: 

  • “I have noticed that you tend not to eat with me anymore, instead eating in your room”
  • “I have heard you talk very negatively about yourself and your body.”
  • “I have noticed that large amounts of food are disappearing.”
  • “You seem to be eating much more quickly than usual.”
  • “I’ve noticed you haven’t been eating much around us lately.”

Follow up with:

  • “Your well-being means a lot to me, and I’m genuinely worried.”
  • “Can you share your experiences with me?”
  • “How do you feel about my perspective?”
  • “I’d love to understand your thoughts and hear what’s been going on with you.”
  • “How have the past few months been for you?”

Listen to their answers and thank them for sharing with you. 

Check out the For Families section of our website for more tips.

I am concerned my child will not participate in the intake appointment, but I know they need help. How will you handle this?

Treating your child with respect and kindness and working to make your child comfortable are some of the main priorities for our trained professional intake therapists. A person’s energy level, mood, focus, and thoughts can be affected by an eating disorder. Our therapists take this into account when dealing with a resistant client.

At The Emily Program, we know that eating disorders impact the whole family, and it’s okay if things feel chaotic right now. We’re here to walk alongside you and your child on this healing journey. We’ll provide the support and resources you both need to navigate this uncertain time, one step at a time.

Are there recommended support groups, websites, or books to help me make sense of what I’m experiencing?

Holding the internal struggles of binge eating disorder can be a deeply isolating and overwhelming experience. Making use of resources to find connection with others facing this insidious illness can make a world of difference in reducing feelings of loneliness and shame. Learning more about the prevalence of binge eating disorder, the roots of these illnesses, and your options for treatment are additional great first steps to combat any concerns and inspire hope.

When starting treatment for binge eating disorder at The Emily Program, you will receive a packet of expert-vetted educational materials to empower you on your recovery journey. 

In addition, The Emily Program offers a blog and hosts the Peace Meal podcast to share helpful knowledge and inspiring stories of recovery.

Support Groups:

The National Alliance for Eating Disorders offers free virtual support groups led by licensed eating disorder clinicians. You can join and participate as much or as little as you need — listening is OK too.

  • Pro-Recovery Support Groups:
    • Mondays, 9am PT, 11am CT, 12pm ET
    • Tuesdays, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET
    • Wednesdays, 6pm PT, 8pm CT, 9pm ET
    • Thursdays, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET
    • Fridays, 9am PT, 11am CT, 12pm ET
    • Saturdays, 8am PT, 10am CT, 11am ET
  • Larger Body Individuals Pro-Recovery Support Group: Mondays, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET
  • LGBTQ+ Pro-Recovery Support Group: Wednesdays, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET
  • Friends & Family Support Group: Thursdays, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET
  • Mom2Mom Support Group: Tuesdays, 1pm PT, 3pm CT, 4pm ET
  • Individuals Who Have Lost a Loved One Support Group: every third Monday of the month, 4pm PT, 6pm CT, 7pm ET 

Learn more and register on The Alliance’s website.

Websites:

The National Alliance for Eating Disorders – A national non-profit organization providing referrals, education, and support for all eating disorders. In addition to their free virtual therapist-led support groups, they have a national, interactive database for finding eating disorder care. www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com

F.E.A.S.T. – Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders – A global community offering support, education, and empowerment to families of people affected by eating disorders www.feast-ed.org

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) – This is a non-profit organization devoted to preventing eating disorders, providing treatment referrals, and increasing education and understanding of eating disorders, weight, and body image. www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) – Anational non-profit organization that provides free peer support services to anyone struggling with an eating disorder. anad.org

Project HEAL – A national non-profit organization focused on equitable treatment access for those with eating disorders needing treatment www.theprojectheal.org

Books:

When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Recover from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating
By Lauren Muhlheim, PsyD

Overcoming Binge Eating: The Proven Program to Learn Why You Binge and How You Can Stop – 2nd Edition
By Dr. Christopher G. Fairburn

Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder – 2nd Edition
By James Lock, MD, PhD, Daniel Le Grange, PhD

How to Nourish Your Child Through an Eating Disorder: A Simple, Plate-by-Plate Approach to Rebuilding a Healthy Relationship with Food
By Casey Crosbie, RD, CEDRD, CSSD, Wendy Sterling, MS, RD, CSSD, CEDRD-S

Autism and Eating Disorders in Teens
By Fiona Fisher Bullivant, Sharleen Woods, MSc, PgDip, RD

Skills-based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method – 2nd Edition
By Janet Treasure, OBE, PhD, FRCP, FRCPsych, Grainne Smith, Anna Crane, PhD

Survive FBT (Family Based Treatment): Skills Manual for Parents Undertaking Family Based Treatment (FBT) for Child and Adolescent Anorexia Nervosa
By Maria Ganci

Off the C.U.F.F.: A Parent Skills Book for the Management of Disordered Eating
By Dr. Nancy L. Zucker, PhD

Throwing Starfish Across the Sea: A Pocket-Sized Care Package for the Parents of Someone with an Eating Disorder
By Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, MS, Charlotte Bevan

Telling ED No!: And Other Practical Tools to Conquer Your Eating Disorder and Find Freedom
By Cheryl Kerrigan, PNP, Thom Rutledge, LCSW

Life Without ED – 10th Edition: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too
By Jenni Schaefer

Goodbye ED, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life
By Jenni Schaefer


Find more recommendations on our Resources webpage.


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