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Binge eating disorder (BED) is one of the newest eating disorders to be recognised in the DSM-5.

It is a severe, although treatable, illness that is characterised by “recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating” (National Eating Disorder Association).

If you are concerned that you or someone who is close to you has a problem with binge eating, Nadia Brooker, Counselling Psychologist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai explores the symptoms of binge eating to look out for, as well as the treatment options that are available to help a person recover from the disorder.

What are the signs of BED?

There are various emotional, behavioural and physical signs of binge eating, which can include the following:

  • You often feel compelled to overeat and consume large quantities of food over a very short period of time – even when you are not hungry
  • You plan your binges in advance and go out to buy particular foods (often ‘junk food’), or plan to go to certain restaurants to do so
  • You may feel as though you are not present during episodes of overeating, and only register what has happened afterwards when you see the wrappers or remnants of the food
  • You binge eat in secret such as alone in your room, at night, or in the car
  • Your normal eating behaviour has been disrupted and you have developed food rituals
  • You notice fluctuations in your weight, as binge eating typically results in weight gain

Binge eating can cause people to feel as though they have a lack of control over their eating habits, so you may also feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty about it.

Strategies to help manage binge eating

Overcoming BED is not simply about losing weight. Instead, it is about finding ways to control eating habits, appropriately nourish our bodies, and develop healthy coping skills.

Keeping a food diary can be helpful in order to explore if there are any patterns or particular triggers that cause binges, or if there are any particular foods you regularly binge on.

Having regular planned meals is essential, along with having healthy snacks throughout the day, and making sure that you don’t skip meals, in order to avoid feeling overly hungry. It is important not to cut out specific food groups, as this can make you more vulnerable to binge on these if they are restricted. Exercising regularly, socialising and engaging in healthy and enjoyable activities is also crucial.

Seeking support from a specialist

It is important to seek support for binge eating if you notice some of the warning signs. Binge eating can have a significant effect on your mental and physical health, as well as on your relationships.

If you notice that your day-to-day functioning is beginning to be negatively affected by your eating patterns, it’s important to access support for this as soon as possible.

Treatment is available at Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai

At Priory Wellbeing Centre Dubai, we have psychologists trained in specialised eating disorder treatment who are able to support individuals who struggle with BED.

Treatment for binge eating generally involves cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). Treatment will normally focus on the following:

  • Exploring why a person binge eats
  • Developing skills to manage urges and interrupt binge eating cycles
  • Identifying underlying reasons that may be perpetuating binge eating
  • Exploring any beliefs or environments that could be contributing to binge eating

Ultimately, the goal is to establish a healthy and balanced relationship with food in order to become more in touch with the body’s needs, and remain regulated and nourished. Our psychiatrists are also available to support patients if medication is needed alongside therapy.

If you’d like to find out more about the binge eating treatment programmes that we can provide, you can make an enquiry online. To speak to someone in person, you can also receive a free telephone consultation by ringing (+971) 4 245 3800.

Nadia is a New Zealand trained and registered Counselling Psychologist, who holds a Masters of Health Science in Psychology. She has previously worked at the Regional Eating Disorders Service, as well as in the private tertiary setting at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand.

Nadia is able to assist patients with personal, social and vocational functioning by using psychological assessments and interventions, as well as preventative approaches. Nadia’s approach to working with patients is holistic and client centred. She uses a variety of models, however primarily works using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for both adolescents and adults. Nadia has also trained in Eating Disorder specific treatment modalities.

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