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Published On: Thu, Jul 25th, 2019

If You Change the Way You Think, You Can Change the Way You Eat

By Dane Louis

In the pursuit of binge eating disorder recovery, the experts at various binge eating disorder treatment centers have incorporated various techniques into treatment plans. In modern evidence-based programs, the results of these different methods are examined for effectiveness.  The types of therapy most effective are then applied to future cases, with alterations to meet the patients’ unique medical and psychological needs.  In the case of binge eating disorder treatment, methods which help people change their repetitive behaviors by helping them change the way they think about food and meals are proving extremely effective.  Here are some ways people in eating disorder treatment can learn to change the way they think about eating and food, and then change those behaviors.

Exposure Therapy

Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

There is an old turn of phrase, “it’s better to show than to tell.”  While talk therapy is one of the key components used at binge eating disorder treatment centers, in some ways, it is a theoretical exercise.  That is, while lessons can be learned in a binge eating disorder recovery center or therapist’s office, they still need to be implemented in the real world to prove their long-term effectiveness.  That’s where exposure therapy comes into play.  Frequently used in eating disorder treatment, exposure therapy consists of controlled exposure to the foods or behaviors that are being avoided.  In the case of binge eating disorder treatment, this can mean facing the stressors ( for example, public speaking for someone with social anxiety) that cause cravings to binge eat, then, under supervision, working to resist those urges. Exposure therapy has proven extremely successful in various mental health treatments including addiction treatment, OCD, and other forms of eating disorder treatment.

Training Along the Hunger/Fullness Scale

One defining characteristic of binge eating disorder is the practice of eating in binge sessions, far beyond the point of being full, and often as a stress response when the individual is not even hungry.  Binge eating episodes often result in great shame, self-disgust, or dissociation in the person engaging in these behaviors.  The is often due to a sense of “losing control,” meaning the individual faces a compulsion to eat whether they want to or not. By training regarding mealtimes and controlled eating sessions, people in binge eating disorder treatment programs can employ a hunger/fullness scale to balance their meal times and sizes.  The scale is rooted in mindfulness, or the practice of being aware of one’s behavior, and teaches people in treatment to be aware of whether they are eating due to stress/compulsions or because they are actually hungry. It also puts a premium on being mindful as to how full the person is, helping them to limit meals to particular times and sizes, counteracting the disordered binging behaviors so commonly associated with the disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), another empirically proven technique used for treatment among a wide variety of mental health disorders, is a client-therapist dynamic of guided thinking designed to isolate and negate negative thoughts and thinking patterns.  For example, a person who turns to binge eating episodes when feeling especially depressed will work with their counselor at a binge eating disorder treatment center to “talk through” the feelings and thoughts of depression without engaging in a disordered behavior as a response to those feelings.  In a similar vein, a client with OCD that manifests as a binge-eating disorder will engage in CBT, lessening the anxiety which leads to compulsive behavior like binge eating.  CBT is effective both in the long-term and short-term, and the rational thinking lessons can be used for a lifetime.

Getting Help Is Vital

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, and it can lead to serious complications if it goes on without empathetic binge eating disorder treatment.  These can include gastrointestinal problems, an increased risk of suicide and self-harm, and various health concerns associated with obesity.  The positive news is that there are binge eating disorder treatment centers available to provide positive thought/behavior training.  If you are a loved one is experiencing binge eating disorder symptoms or simply wants to talk, reach out today and begin the path to a recovered lifestyle.

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