What is Up with All Those Acronyms: BED

The therapy world is filled with so many acronyms and it can get confusing and overwhelming. Each week, I will break down several of the acronyms you may have heard or read about.

Today we’ll discuss BED:

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder with a prevalence of nearly 15,000,000 Americans each year.

Binge eating disorder has recently been recognized as a separate disorder by researchers in 2013. Prior to this, the disorder was observed in patients, but there was little understanding of it as a separate diagnosis.

BED is characterized by:

·       Consuming large amounts of food within a short time. Generally, this means less than 2 hours and more food than most people would eat in a similar period. Sometimes this also means consuming food rapidly, feeling uncomfortably full, eating when not hungry, eating alone or in secret, and feelings of depression, disgust or guilt after eating. When making a diagnosis, clinicians, including myself, look for binging episodes at least once per week for 3 months.

·       Feeling out of control when consuming food. Some people with binge eating disorder describe feeling on “auto-pilot” and just can’t stop eating.

·       Distress when binge eating. People with binge eating disorder often feeling guilt, shame, or disgust after an episode of binge eating. This distress is a key diagnostic marker I look for.

What separates binge eating disorder from disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is there is no compensatory behaviors after the binge eating. Some individuals with eating disorders may try to purge their food afterwards using behaviors such as vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise, or other means. Formally, binge eating disorder is classified with a lack of these behaviors, but it is important to remember each individual with an eating disorder has their own unique experience. Therefore, it is not uncommon for some individuals who have binge eating episodes may also use compensatory behaviors.  

Binge eating disorder can have significant medical complications including death for some patients due to complications of consumptions of large amounts of food.

BED is treatable and often incorporates psychotherapy, nutrition therapy, and medical observation.

For more information on eating disorders you can check: www.theprojectheal.org