How to Put Binge Eating Disorder to BED

By: Suzanne Feinstein, PhD

Impulse control disorders are characterized by difficulty in resisting the temptation to engage in behaviors that are harmful to oneself or others. Binge eating behaviors can be a manifestation of such disorders.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a recognized psychiatric condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Here are some facts about BED according to the DSM-5: Diagnostic Criteria for Binge Eating Disorder (DSM-5):

Recurrent episodes of binge eating:

Binge eating is characterized by consuming a larger amount of food in a discrete period of time (e.g., within a 2-hour period) than most people would eat under similar circumstances, and there is a lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., feeling unable to stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

Binge-eating episodes include three or more of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal.
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry.
  • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by the amount of food being consumed.
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating.

Marked distress: The binge eating episodes are associated with marked distress, including feelings of guilt, shame, or self-disgust.

Frequency: Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.

Absence of compensatory behaviors: Unlike bulimia nervosa, individuals with BED do not engage in regular inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., vomiting, excessive exercise, or fasting) to counteract the effects of binge eating.

Not exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa: Binge eating disorder is not diagnosed if the binge eating occurs exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Severity: The severity of BED can be determined based on the frequency of binge eating episodes:

  • Mild: 1-3 episodes per week
  • Moderate: 4-7 episodes per week
  • Severe: 8-13 episodes per week
  • Extreme: 14 or more episodes per week

Binge eating disorder can have significant physical, emotional, and social consequences. It is often associated with obesity, but individuals of any weight can have BED.

It is important to seek help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional if you or someone you know is struggling with binge eating disorder. Treatment for binge eating disorder typically involves a combination of therapeutic approaches, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication. It’s important to note that treatment plans may vary based on individual needs, and it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a personalized assessment and guidance.

The following are some common and effective methods to manage binge eating disorder:


  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):  CBT is often the first-line treatment for BED. It helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with binge eating. It also teaches skills to manage triggers and emotions that contribute to binge episodes.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT):  IPT focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and communication skills, which can help address emotional triggers for binge eating.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness strategies to help individuals regulate emotions and cope with stress in healthier ways.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT helps individuals accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment and commit to making positive changes in their lives.
  • Nutritional Counseling: Working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can help develop a balanced eating plan, address nutrition-related concerns, and establish a regular eating schedule to reduce the likelihood of binge episodes.
  • Medication: In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe medications to help manage BED.
  • Support Groups: Joining a support group or therapy group specifically focused on BED can provide a sense of community, understanding, and encouragement. Sharing experiences and strategies with others can be beneficial.

Lifestyle Changes:

Implementing healthy lifestyle changes can support recovery:

  • Regular physical activity can help improve mood and reduce the urge to binge.
  • Practicing stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness and relaxation exercises can be beneficial.
  • Adequate sleep is essential for overall well-being and can help regulate appetite.

Self-Help Resources:

Books, workbooks, and online resources that focus on BED and self-help strategies can be used in conjunction with professional treatment.

Family Involvement:

In some cases, family therapy may be recommended to address family dynamics and support the individual in their recovery.

Remember that recovery from binge eating disorder is a process, and it may take time. It is crucial to seek help from a qualified healthcare provider who can assess your specific situation and develop a tailored treatment plan. Early intervention and consistent support can greatly improve the chances of overcoming binge eating disorder and achieving a healthier relationship with food and emotions.

Advanced Behavioral Health, LLP provides an effective treatment plan for Binge Eating Disorder using scientifically-proven techniques. Call 646-345-3030 or email Dr. Suzanne Feinstein at for a free 15 minute consultation to see if you qualify for treatment.

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