When people are hungry, they eat food. Then, when they're not hungry, they stop eating. Generally, this is a normal pattern of feeding, with some exceptions of course. Binge eaters, on the other hand, don't fall into this category. Instead, for reasons we'll discuss shortly, they struggle to manage their food intake, which results in excessive and often life-threatening weight gain.
Binge eating is a disorder that affects 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men, according to a report published in Biological Psychiatry. US Health, along with other sources, reported that binge eating disorder is one of the most common types of eating disorders in the nation.
The National Eating Disorders Association does a great job describing binge eating when it reports that a person with BED eats an excessive amount of food until they feel uncomfortable. While some who are unfamiliar with binge eating may ask "why can't binge eaters just control their bad habits?" this is simply not possible. Binge eaters often can't stop eating even if they know their actions are hurting their bodies.
If you know of a friend or loved one who is suffering from compulsive overeating, here are some ways you can help them:
1. Contact a professional
First and foremost, don't try to help a binge eater by yourself. Instead, talk with a professional who can lay out a number of steps the person should take to start living a healthy lifestyle. In this plan, the doctor will likely include ways to assist him or her if a relapse occurs. Creating a strategy is person-specific, and, as you can see, takes a lot of work.
2. Help them avoid temptations
As part of the professional's strategy, you (the caretaker) may be asked to take part in your friend or loved one's recovery process. One way to ensure the person isn't tempted to eat excessively is to keep him or her away from their temptations. Doing so is difficult and time consuming because, essentially, you're helping the person break a bad habit.
If you're not sure how to help this avoid temptations, don't be intimated. A doctor will provide instructions. A few ideas the professional may suggest are: 1) creating an exercise routine you and your loved one can take part in 2) starting a hobby together 3) removing unhealthy food from the binge eater's home 4) helping the person reduce stress, if it's considered a culprit and 5) removing the patient from social pressures that might be enticing him or her to overeat.
3. Don't miss appointments
While this sounds like an obvious piece of advice, we can't state how important it is to always show up to scheduled appointments. These sessions help doctors gauge the success of the treatment plan. If major adjustments need to be made, they're often done so during these sessions (although amendments can be made before and after the appointment, if needed). During the visit, the doctor may not only make changes, he or she will check the patient's overall health and talk about the different adjustments made to overcome the disorder.
4. Attend support groups
With the permission of the patient's doctor, we suggest you and your friend or loved one attend group therapy sessions. Not only is this is a great way to help the binge eater avoid temptations, like we suggested earlier, it also helps them relate with others who are also struggling with compulsive eating.
The latter is especially important because it lets the individual know they're not alone. There are others who are facing similar circumstances. This makes the recovery process seem much less daunting and more achievable.
If you would like to talk to a professional, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center. Located in Clearwater, Florida, Fairwinds Treatment Center has over 25 years of experience diagnosing and treating binge-eating related problems. Dr. M.K (Khal) El-Yousef and his full-time staff of professional psychiatrists, nursing professionals and licensed therapists use a dual diagnosis approach to treat individuals with addictive behaviors. In using this approach, they can discover the root of the disease and look for possible treatments using therapeutic counseling and clinical practices.