A 3-Part Series on Binge Eating Disorder: Making Peace with Food: Treatments for BED (Part 3) / by Gia & Danielle

By Drs. Danielle Keenan-Miller and Gia Marson

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of all the eating disorders [1] and yet, less than half of the people with it ever receive treatment [2]. Why is that? Highly effective treatments for binge eating disorder are available.  While some people with binge eating disorder may not know there are good treatments available,  that lack of awareness is not usually the primary impediment to wellness. More often, it is the constellation of stigma, shame, and disgust which typically accompanies binge eating disorder that leads to ongoing secrecy. The fact is, once a person with BED seeks out the right science-backed approach to treatment, they can usually get better. There are a variety of effective, long lasting treatments. Furthermore, it is not a one size fits all approach to recovery, there is something for everyone, including:

  • Individual and group therapy focusing on improving the structure of meals and snacks as well as the content of one’s thoughts related to shape, weight and their control (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Individual therapy focusing on enhancing satisfaction in relationships (Interpersonal Therapy)
  • Online guided self-help programs focusing on improving the structure of meals and snacks as well as the content of one’s thoughts related to shape, weight and their control (Computer-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Individual therapy focusing on coping with strong emotions (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)

Psychotherapy leads to greater reductions in symptoms than either medication [14] or behavioral weight loss programs [15]. A recent meta-analysis of binge eating treatments found medium to large effect sizes for psychotherapy and structured self-help [14]. Targeted adaptations of individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy, as well as CBT in a guided self-help format, have all been demonstrated to lead to significant, stable improvements in binge eating [16, 17].

Share Your Story of Hope and Recovery From Binge Eating

With proper identification and the use of empirically-supported interventions, there is reason to be optimistic about recovery from BED. We can all take part in reducing the stigma surrounding this illness and encouraging help-seeking. When it comes to recovery from binge eating, it is truly possible to make peace with food.  If you or someone you know is dealing with binge eating, share the science. Share the hope.

Further Reading:
[Part 1: What is BED?]
[Part 2: What Causes BED?]

[1] Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007
[2] Hudson et al., 2007
[14] Vocks et al., 2010
[15] Wilson et al., 2010
[16] Hilbert et al., 2015  
[17] Telch, Agras, & Linehan, 2001

Clinicians looking for additional information are referred to Marson & Keenan-Miller’s companion article in The Los Angeles Psychologist (2016).