Barriers to Binge Eating Recovery – and How to Overcome Them

When it comes to entering treatment and working toward binge eating recovery, there are many barriers to overcome along the way. Everyone’s barriers differ according to their unique situations and disposition, making it worthwhile to understand what challenges could arise.

With that understanding, people with binge eating disorder can identify their personal barriers and start to work through them with purpose. Here’s a rundown of the potential challenges ahead in receiving help in becoming recovered.

Feelings of Hopelessness

Many people have feelings of hopelessness while dealing with binge eating disorder. These feelings may arise after binge eating or simply while reflecting on one’s life path. Without hope that there is a way to become recovered, many people will simply fail to try. They may feel like they will never be able to control the urge to binge eat or eliminate their disordered thoughts.

When depression co-occurs with binge eating disorder, as is common, these feelings only worsen, further separating the individual from the path to healing. Admissions specialists and other eating disorder treatment professionals are skilled in helping people find hope and see the path to becoming recovered. By calling their treatment center of choice, people with eating disorders of all kinds can receive prompt support and start to discard feelings of hopelessness altogether.

Fear of Letting Go

When dealing with binge eating disorder symptoms, the associated behaviors can start to become part of a person’s identity — and a source of comfort. Though detrimental to their health and well-being, the disordered behaviors provide a sense of stability that may be lacking otherwise. As that happens, it becomes more difficult to let go, causing some people to even grow fearful of the thought.

Thankfully, becoming recovered is what provides true stability and comfort, especially upon learning adaptive coping skills in treatment. By letting go of the disordered thoughts and behaviors, people can free themselves from the risks and repercussions of binge eating disorder.

Through treatment, they will gain the skills needed to thrive in daily life and build a positive identity separate from the disorder. They will learn about the tools and techniques that provide steady footing and keep the disordered thoughts and behaviors at bay.


Stigma about eating disorders can act as a barrier to receiving care and working toward recovery. The belief that eating disorders are caused by lifestyle choices alone makes it difficult for many to reach out for help when they need it. They may feel like they have to work through the problem on their own or just feel too embarrassed to speak up.

To help everyone overcome stigma, treatment professionals may help unravel some of the misconceptions about eating disorders. Through their discussions, they may reveal that:

  • Genetic risk factors greatly contribute to the development of eating disorders
  • Lifestyle choices are only a small part of the equation
  • Binge eating disorder symptomsare potentially dangerous, yet treatable

They will also have to dig into each person’s unique beliefs and concerns to eliminate the damage stigma has done. As they let go of their misconceptions, they can better see the path forward and start working toward becoming recovered with confidence.

Fear of Triggers

With binge eating disorder, many people develop a fear of certain foods that act as triggers for disordered thoughts and behaviors. Even the mere mention of those foods can cause panic and overwhelming urges that are not easily alleviated without binging. As a result, they may go out of their way to avoid those triggers in daily life in hopes of minimizing their urges.

To avoid those foods, they may:

  • Say they do not like the food
  • Claim they are not hungry
  • Avoid group meals
  • Stay home more often

They may also decline to go to treatment in fear of having to face those foods. But it is through treatment where they can overcome those fears and eat the foods they love without worry. Therapists will use exposure therapy and other techniques to help people work through their triggers and fears all at once.

Shame and Guilt

Binge eating disorder causes a cycle of shame and guilt to take hold, making it difficult to see past those challenging feelings. People with this disorder may resort to secrecy in response and start to withdraw from friends and family. Their shame and guilt may even cause them to quit their favorite activities in favor of staying home to protect their secrets.

As the eating disorder worsens, shame and guilt may present as:

  • Skipping family meals
  • Refusing to eat in public
  • Wearing loose clothing
  • Hiding their face while talking
  • Making negative remarks about themselves

Through these behaviors, they try to temper those strong feelings and alleviate the resulting stress. Unfortunately, that rarely works. Instead, they need to dismantle those feelings with help from an eating disorder therapist.

These professionals help people see the truth of the matter and forgive themselves for their disordered thoughts and behaviors. They let them know that their eating disorder is not their fault and can be treated with the right approach. As they work on becoming recovered, the shame and guilt start to dissipate, allowing them to move on with their lives.

Low Self-Esteem

Binge eating disorder frequently causes self-esteem to drop to all-new lows, leaving people feeling unworthy of healing and recovery. As their shape and weight changes due to the binge episodes, self-esteem tends to drop even lower. This causes the binge eating disorder symptoms to worsen, creating a cycle that reinforces itself again and again.

Halting the binge eating behaviors is just one part of restoring self-esteem, however. Many people greatly benefit from working through their inner turmoil in individual and group therapy sessions. Binge eating treatment centers regularly hold these sessions to help their patients develop a positive outlook about themselves. Confidence often takes time to return, so working on self-esteem remains a constant part of the treatment process.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics can complicate the process of acquiring help for binge eating disorder and following through with treatment. In many cases, the way the family functions can contribute to the continuation of eating disorder symptoms. Eating disorders can also cause the quality of relationships to decline, leaving people without the social support they need to become recovered.

Eating disorder treatment centers work on healing the whole family as their loved one focuses on becoming recovered. They may have the family come in for individual and group therapy, for example, giving everyone a chance to voice their concerns and start to heal. They may also have the family participate in exposure therapy and outings as deemed appropriate for the patient.
During treatment, the family exercises may include:

  • Creating a home environment that supports healing and recovery
  • Exploring the causes of binge eating recovery
  • Dismantling stigma and other incorrect beliefs held by family members
  • Restructuring gatherings to shift the focus from food to companionship
  • Repairing relationships through discussions that promote healing
  • Preparing for the return home after completing binge eating treatment

As families remain involved in their loved one’s healing process, they, too, can start to heal from the difficulties caused by the eating disorder symptoms, risks, and repercussions.

Minimal Social Support

Social support is incredibly important as people work toward becoming recovered from binge eating disorder — and it starts with the family unit. People need to know that they have someone to go to when difficulties arise in remaining recovered. They need to have a group of people at the ready for when stressors become too great to handle alone.

Without that sense of support, they may struggle to find the motivation to become recovered and keep disordered thoughts from overwhelming them. Unfortunately, binge eating disorder causes people to isolate themselves and keeps them from reaching out for help. They may also be unaware of how to voice their need for support without resorting to disordered behaviors or other ineffective methods.

Treatment professionals can help people rebuild their strong social support network and learn how to appropriately reach out in times of need. They may work on these skills at individual and group therapy in addition to exposure exercises from time to time.

Competing Obligations

As they try to balance their eating disorder, schoolwork or professional life, and family obligations, many people do not have time for much else. This may leave them unable to figure out how to work binge eating treatment into the mix. The competing obligations may feel much too important to leave behind, delaying treatment and increasing the risk of adverse effects.
While it is true that eating disorder treatment takes time and dedicated effort, working the process into daily life is not as hard as it seems. There are many different levels of care available at major binge eating treatment centers, including:

  • Full residential program
  • Supervised living
  • Day treatment

Through the initial assessment, admissions specialists can let people know what level of treatment would be best for them. They can also provide help in managing competing obligations and gaining a much-needed perspective on the situation.

Many people find it worthwhile to take the time away to heal and become recovered. They can then return to their daily lives with a new outlook on life and much less stress on their shoulders.

Uncertain How to Get Help

Uncertainties about how to get help, and an unwillingness to reach out for assistance, can leave people spinning their wheels. Although they are not happy with their situation, they may feel like treatment is out of reach or will not work for their needs. They may also feel like the treatment center is too far away or costs too much to consider. In some cases, they may even feel like they are beyond help or undeserving of the chance to become recovered.

Thankfully, all of these concerns and uncertainties are not usually based on reality. They are centered around fears instead, which can be resolved by talking with a supportive admissions specialist. These trained specialists can lay out the path to recovery and help people address their challenges one by one.

Upon talking to these specialists, people will receive intake paperwork, including a self-assessment, to fill out and return. By reviewing that assessment plus any pertinent medical records, admissions specialists can let them know what treatment program will work best for their needs. Then, they can set up an admission date at their preferred location, guiding them through the process step by step.

Ready to Become Recovered from Binge Eating Disorder?

Only when people look at their potential challenges in the face can they begin to see the path to becoming recovered from binge eating disorder. By dismantling these concerns, one by one, it is possible to remove the barriers to getting care and becoming fully recovered.

Anyone in need of treatment can get started with a quick call to 866-511-4325. An admissions specialist will pick up and address their concerns in full, helping them receive timely treatment. They can then receive care from knowledgeable staff members who understand how to best treat binge eating disorder in women.