Living with Binge Eating Disorder

We are so pleased to share an excerpt of ‘Living with Binge Eating Disorder‘ by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS published yesterday on PsychCentral. Please visit here to read the full article. Director of Embrace, the binge eating recovery program at OPC, Dr. Karin Lawson, along with renowned binge eating disorder treatment professionals, was featured to shed light on binge eating disorder, dispelling a collection of myths about BED, what works and doesn’t work in the treatment of this particular disorder, and valuable practices moving forward. We hope you learn from this excerpt and share with others who will benefit from this knowledge and education on binge eating disorder. 


If you have binge eating disorder, please know that you’re not alone. Binge eating disorder (BED) is actually the most common eating disorder. It affects about 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men.

You’re also not weak, wrong or crazy. BED “is not a reflection of who you are as a person,” said Karin Lawson, PsyD, a psychologist and clinical director of Embrace, the binge eating recovery program at Oliver-Pyatt Centers.

Binge eating may serve many functions, according to Amy Pershing, LMSW, ACSW, the executive director of Pershing Turner Centers, an eating disorder recovery outpatient clinic in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Annapolis, Md.

It might soothe stress and help you escape, especially when you’ve experienced trauma or significant shame, she said. “You have survived, perhaps in part because your relationship with food was a powerful coping strategy. There are better strategies now; you can learn them, and you can heal.”

Some people can get better by using self-help strategies, but BED most often requires treatment. People with BED typically suffer for many years, have co-occurring physical and mental health issues and severe body image issues, which perpetuate weight cycling and exacerbate the disorder, said Chevese Turner, founder and president of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and co-founder and managing director of Pershing Turner Centers.

But the good news is that BED is highly treatable, and you can recover, said Judith Matz, LCSW, co-author of Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Comprehensive Guide to Treating Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating and Emotional Overeating.

Myths About BED

There are many myths about BED and its treatment. Here’s a selection:

Myth: If people had more willpower, they’d stop bingeing.

BED has nothing to do with willpower. Again, it’s a serious disorder. This egregious myth only “contributes to the eating disorder voice that maintains and exacerbates the condition,” Turner said. “For people with BED, eating feels out of control … is disconnected from physical hunger, and is often connected to other issues such as anxiety or depression,” said Matz, LCSW, who treats BED in Skokie, Ill.

Myth: People with BED are “overweight.”

Actually, they “come in all sizes,” Matz said. About 30 percent of people with the disorder are considered “normal” weight and one percent are underweight, according to body mass index, Turner said. (“There are people at higher weights who do not struggle with BED or other overeating problems,” Matz said.)

Myth: BED is treated by a “sensible eating plan” (i.e., a diet)

Diets are actually contraindicated for BED and may trigger it, she said. “[T]hey can lead to weight cycling (losing and then regaining weight), which is actually hard on the body and can lead to health issues,” Lawson said. Treatment requires that people with BED work through the psychological, physical and situational factors that trigger binge episodes, Pershing said. “Another diet will not change anything; all it will do it lighten your wallet and leave you with a 95 percent likelihood of regaining the weight in 3 years.”

Myth: BED doesn’t require the same level of intervention as anorexia or bulimia.

Typically, it requires the same treatment as any other eating disorder, Pershing said. This may include: “individual therapy, nutrition professional, groups, expressive therapies [and] medication management.”

To read further, please view the full article on PsychCentral here

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram