In The News: What IS Binge Eating Disorder? (BED) | Fit and Free with Emily
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Yesterday afternoon, over in FF/E Facebook-land, I threw out a pretty big request. I’m planning on re-starting my “Life of a Binge Eater” series next week, and I’m not really sure where to begin.

As a recovering person with Binge Eating Disorder, (BED), writing those kind of posts are extreamly hard for me at times. Emotionally, I’m all over the place. It’s hard to explain to someone “Hey, I’m emotionally addicted to food.” And not even in the standard “I have an addiction and it’s hard for other people who DON’T have the addiction to understand” kind of way.

No one needs heroin. Addiction to heroine = disease. Everyone needs food. Addiction to food = maybe you just don’t have any self-control. Even in the Facebook thread a couple of people brought up this fact. Wait, Binge Eating Disorder is a real thing?

Yes, it’s very real.
Yes, millions of Americans suffer from BED.
No, it’s not easy to understand.
… but Yes, I’m sure as heck going to try to show you what it’s like. If for no other reason than to try to better understand myself and my past. 13 – 26yr old Emily would have really liked to have known that she wasn’t just a fat, worthless slob that couldn’t stop eating.

Binge Eating Disorder Statistic

In 2013 reality, that number may actually be much higher. BED has long been misunderstood, leaving many suffering and not knowing where to turn for help. Many doctors haven’t fully understood the severity of BED until recent years.

In fact, 2013 is a ground-breaking year for BED. The 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) , due out May 2013, is finally adding BED to its list of recognized eating disorders. Right along with anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

This. Is. Huge.

From Everyday Health:

When a disorder like binge eating is added to the DSM, it means mental health professionals who treat the disorder can seek reimbursement from insurance companies. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It’s estimated that 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men have this condition. With insurance coverage more likely, many more of them may get help.

This also means more research. More awareness. More people accurately diagnosed.  Less shame. Less guilt. MORE PROGRESS. :D

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for BED

1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating characterized by BOTH of the following:

a. Eating in a discrete amount of time (within a 2 hour period), an amount that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar time period.
b. Sense of lack of control over eating during an episode.

2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
a.  Eating much more rapidly than normal.
b.  Eating until uncomfortably full.
c.  Eating large amounts of food when not hungry.
d.  Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating.
e.  Feeling disgust with oneself, depressed, or guilty after overeating.

3.  Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.

4.  The binge eating occurs, on average, at least 2 days a week for 6 months.

5.  The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g. purging, fasting, compulsive exercising).

I know that’s a lot of information I just threw at your computer screen, but I really feel it’s important to our discussion. Now that you have a better idea of what BED is (or even possibly a better idea of what you may be suffering from) we can begin to move forward. Not just on my tiny blog, but as a society. BED is a mental illness, just like any other compulsory or obsessive behavioral disease. It’s time we started treating it like one.

I plan on doing these “in the news” posts every other week along with my Life as a Binge Eater series on Thursdays. It’s a topic I’m obviously very passionate about, and this is my small way of bringing awareness to the issue.

I’m hoping you will be a part of this with me! Any questions you have, topics you would like to see covered … I welcome them all. Comments, emails, FB message, Tweets, go ahead. :)

xo – Emily
Be strong. Be fearless. Be you.

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  • Jules Joyce

    i am glad to see this! I missed it on FB. It is an important topic. I have been in treatment for PTSD with BED for a year and a half now. I will be 52 yrs old in a couple of weeks and for the first time, I honestly feel alive! Thank you for taking this HUGE step to help others. I KNOW how hard it is to put yourself out there like that.

    • Emily

      Jules, you beat me to it! The FB post is scheduled for 9:30am. ;)

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re in treatment and are openly sharing that. I think the more of us that speak up, the better understood BED can be! I definitely second guess my writing about BED a lot, especially since a lot of family/friends read this. Thank you for being a great support <3

  • thechimes

    I’m so glad you shared this with me! I definitely fit most of these qualifications for most of my life, but I did do a lot of #5, so I’m guessing that fits in the binging and purging eating disorder instead. Though, I finally kicked purging in the last year, but not binging (getting there. so close.), which probably is reason for my weight gain that I can’t shake.

    • Emily

      I think it’s shocking just how many people can relate to BED for at least part of their life. You’ve made AMAZING steps, friend. I still have emotional eating moments. I’m sure IE is helping us both a lot in that area!

  • Samantha

    I can’t say thank you enough. Ever since I started thinking ‘I need to lose weight’ I’ve also thought ‘I have no control over my eating. What’s wrong with me?’
    Being so honest and open with your journey is helping countless people more than you know. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!

    • sunnyseth

      Thank you

  • Karen Hewko

    It makes SO MUCH SENSE. I was working on a post about my emotional eating, but maybe this is what it always was? I still struggle with it a lot. If I’m having a bad day my automatic reaction is to want to stuff my face full of food, and usually bad food.

    I remember very clearly one day I got in a fight with my husband. Told him I was going to go vacuum out the car, and went through a drive through to get two donuts to stuff my face with to make me feel better.

    I ate a LOT of bad food in secret. I didn’t want anyone else to know because it was so GROSS. Random trips to fast food places during the day between meals. Hidden stashes in my office. It’s a hard thing to admit, even now.



    • Emily

      You sound EXACTLY like me! Especially this post here (if you haven’t read it)

      I’m in the process of organizing all these Binge Eating posts into one area so that people can see the true similarities You’d be AMAZED how many people can relate to what you just said, Karen! The trips/stashes. One of the worst moments of my life was when I knew Adam had figured it out. One day I came home and realized he had thrown out all the pizza boxes from my “secret trash” spot. Horrifying.

      I so get it. I hope that you DO post about it, b/c it will help countless people.

    • Kim Prayfrock

      I know. Especially the part of hiding wrappers or eating in my car. I’m embarrased by it, and ashamed and find it difficult to quit.

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  • Melissa (@TheDailyMel)

    This is great news! I’ve battled BED for a long time. Having it finally be recognized on the DSM is definitely HUGE! Thanks for sharing it. :)

  • Emily

    Thank you for commenting, Chris. I definitely know that cycle all to well.

    • Lisa Stalsworth

      I share the same cycle as Chris.

  • Lisa Stalsworth

    You started your series on Binge Eating shortly after I started reading your blog. I too am a binge eater, who has identified the problem but hasn’t gotten it completely under control. I really enjoyed your honest posts and was looking forward to reading them when they stopped. I would enjoy it if you re-started your series where you left off.

    • Emily

      I definitely will, Lisa!
      I’ll address this next week, but what happened was my last post really threw me into an emotional wreck. It’s so hard to relive those moments. I got back into therapy, and took a breather. My plan is to do twice a month, every other thursday with LBE series, and the other Thursdays something in the news related to weight loss or BED. I hope not to feel too overwhelmed this way. :)

      Thank you SO much for being a continuing support. It means a lot to me.

      • Lisa Stalsworth

        It was the last post that was the grabber. Hopefully therapy shed more light and brought some help. There are lots of us out there who eat until there is a ridiculous fullness in our belly that is comforting but that comfort isn’t taking care of the real problem.
        The new format sounds great!

  • Erica Zamsky Hunt

    I love this post-This is what I have spent the last year in therapy dealing with. It has taken me a long time to admit on my blog or in person I have eating issues, but I often never say I have an eating disorder because most people would look at me and say…ummm hello there big girl, clearly you don’t have an eating disorder. Yet, that is exactly what my issues have been. Thank you for sharing this and being willing to put your self out there.

    Ironically, in my psychology class today I was teaching the DSM and discussing some of the changes the new edition will have and I didn’t know that this would be including. How fitting!

  • Jeremy Logsdon

    Oh wow. I’m… I’m at a loss. I went through school on the DSM-IV, and knowing that this is in the DSM-5 is a game changer. And the 2%… on one hand, that sounds so small, but at the same time, that means that I’m the 1 in 50 guys with this disorder. Almost chilling that it can be that common, too.

  • Heather A

    Oh my goodness. It’s like a light just went on. How many times have I talked to the doctor and gotten no where, how many times have I wondered what was wrong with me. The guilt was overwhelming. Thank you for this post. I will go back and read your other posts on this. This is what I have, and I never knew it! Can I ask you a question? how does therapy help with this? As a student about to graduate with a social work degree, it is highly encouraged to seek counseling–you can help other’s best when you’ve already helped yourself–however, I’ve always been a little apprehensive for some reason. I would love to know! Thank you!!!

    • Emily

      I am definitely posting about therapy soon, because frankly it’s been INVALUABLE to my recovery process. My best advice is to seek someone with words like “cognitive behavioral studies” and “holistic” in their descriptions. I have found that your typical therapists (even the ones that specialize in EDs) don’t really get the whole picture. BED is so rooted in a need (in my opinion) for something more … spiritual? That sounds a little quack-y. Holistic therapy approach really looks at the whole person (emotional, physical, hormonal, spiritual, behavioral, etc.) and comes at the disorder from a greater plane of understanding.

      I’m so happy that you found some connection in this post. I think far too many people suffer from that guilt you are speaking about.

  • Tina Reale

    I’m SO glad you shared this! And so glad that I can finally open my eyes to be able to read it (had a scratched cornea before). Definitely published it in my post today and hope everyone can learn more about BED and that it is a very real thing.

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  • Alicia C

    When I first acknowledged I had an eating disorder (BED), I was so embarrassed by the concept that I would lie to close friends and say I was bulimic. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with saying I have BED… but it’s not easy.. Thanks for this post!

    • Kim Prayfrock

      I know what you mean, Alicia. I haven’t told my friends how bad I really am. I have awesome friends, but I don’t know how they would take it or if they would understand.

      • Alicia C

        I like to believe we all have one friend that would understand, but even then, I am hesitant like you are. Good thing we have online support, which is a really great support system!

    • Emily

      I did the same thing, when I was in high school, Alicia! I also used to PRAY that I could be anorexic. It’s so insane.

      • Alicia C

        Girlfriend, I am right with you. Desperately wanting to be able to not eat. I would get so insanely jealous of anyone who would say, “man I totally forgot to eat today!” HOW DO YOU FORGET TO EAT?!?!? Mind-blowing (and maddening at the same time!)

  • Kim Prayfrock

    I just posted a comment in the wrong place. Here it is again and please excuse if you had to read it twice.

    Thank you for your words. At age 53 I am just realizing that I have a binging problem (well, if I’m to admit it…I realized it years ago.) I can do healthy binges….eating pounds of bing cherries in one sitting (and oh my gosh you better have a bathroom nearby) to an entire watermelon in an hour (and feeling oh so bloated but I kept eating) to way too many apples…and that’s just the healthy things. I can eat bags of frozen Snickers-pretzel M&Ms. Worse if the Russell Stover Dark Chocolate and Coconut Cream candies….at Christmas time it’s Santa, now it’s hearts and Easter will be eggs. And every holiday I say I won’t eat them. Or get them on clearance the day after the holiday. Or tell myself that since they are 2 for 1 I should buy more, or lie to the cashier that they are for my kids. This secret life I lead sucks. Big time. And I’ve lost 50 pounds and gained 50 pounds more than I care to admit. And I tell myself the same things you do….what the hell, I’m getting older or it won’t matter anyway because I’ll just put it all back on anyway or I’m a a bad sort of way. I hate that losing weight, or telling myself I need to get healthy, is so all mind consuming. Hate it.

    • Emily

      No worries, Kim, I figured you meant for the comment to be here!

      You know, no matter what age we start our journeys at, the message is the same. Time will pass regardless. You might as well make pass doing everything you can to make yourself better, right? :) I know exactly what you’re saying here. I hate how overwhelming the whole thing is. The good news is, you have the power to turn it around, even after all these years! There’s so many of us out there with BED. I really do believe that through a lot of self-exploration (therapy) it can be stopped.

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  • Emily

    Hmmm … this got sent to my “spam” folder since you’re technically pitching a product (The Huger Fix addiction plan), but I’m going to let it slide because there’s some valuable scientific information in what you’re saying. Readers, do with it as you wish. :)

  • Mary (A Merry Life)

    Such a great post. I def agree that those of us who have struggled with it should talk about it more. It’s embarrassing at first but less so when you realize a lot of strong, awesome people struggle with it.

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  • Katie M.

    I finally admitted my to my binge-eating tendencies. I had to write it in a blog, I’ve still never said it out loud. I wanted to thank you for opening my eyes and making me admit to myself what I’ve been thinking for a while now. I hope you don’t mind, but I included a link to this post on my post for people who have questions.

  • Paula Dawson

    Great post! It’s not as widely discussed as other eating disorders, but binge eating disorder (BED) affects more American adults and takes more lives than anorexia and bulimia combined.

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