How to break the cycle of binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder can be extremely distressing and is characterised by eating a larger amount of food than normal in a short space of time. Our Senior Dietitian, Paula, shares how she supports clients to break the cycle of bingeing.

Binge eating disorder can be extremely distressing and is characterised by eating a larger amount of food than normal in a short space of time. The individual may eat alone, eat when they are not hungry, eat very quickly and until they feel uncomfortably full. Individuals can often feel chaotic and out of control around food.

Following an episode of binge eating a person may struggle with feelings of guilt, shame and disgust, and can feel very isolated and alone.

Whist this is often a silent and invisible illness we know from the large number of enquiries that we have to our site that this touches many lives.

At Orri we work with our clients to break the cycle of binge eating, an approach which will involve all members of our team.

The cycle of binge eating disorder:

Everyone’s binge cycle will look different. If you are living with binge eating disorder, perhaps take a moment to think about yours?

As a Dietitian, these are the many areas that I would be thinking about as I work with our clients:

  • We think about relationships with food in an honest and open way: how is it now, and how you want it to be
  • We are curious about behaviours and trying to recognise patterns
  • We think about triggers and attempt to identify them with the aim of interrupting the cycle
  • We think about alternative actions or distractions which could help. This might be journaling, artwork, mindfulness, knitting, reading, box sets. What would yours be?
  • We think about structure and working towards establishing a regular pattern of eating to remove the chaos that can often surround eating
  • We think about where you eat, who you eat with and what you eat, and identify where the changes need to be
  • We also think about hunger – or rather the avoidance of it – as we know that restriction can often be part of the binge cycle
  • We think about identifying others who can support you and how you can communicate your needs with them
  • And then we think about the food

I encourage clients to put simple plans in place based upon regular meals and snacks. It is often helpful to plan meals in advance. I encourage clients to write a shopping lists, shop only for the plan, and reduce the number of shopping trips.

At first, meals may avoid foods which have been binge foods in the past, but introduce more challenging food as clients gain confidence.

Together, we set clear intentions and then come back to evaluate how things are going, what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what we need to work on collaboratively.

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