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CBT for Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

We understand how difficult daily life can feel when you are struggling with binge eating disorder (BED). However, it is important to remember that what you are going through can improve with the right support and treatment. You are just as capable of recovery as anyone else. At Life Works, we can make this entirely achievable with our specialist binge eating disorder programme.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common therapeutic technique used in the treatment of BED. Here we answer key questions around this approach, why it is so effective and how you can embark on the treatment with Life Works.

What is binge eating disorder (BED)?

BED is also sometimes known as ‘compulsive eating disorder’ or ‘emotional eating’. It involves frequently consuming excessive amounts of food in one sitting, often very quickly or in secret. Typically, it is not followed by purging.

A person with the disorder will usually binge as a way of coping with stress or other challenging emotions. This can lead to a person also experiencing guilt, depression and poor self-esteem, which can worsen with time.

Those with BED often go to extreme lengths to conceal their behaviour, which, when coupled with the feelings of guilt and shame, can lead to a very isolated existence.

How Can CBT help with BED?

Unhealthy behaviours like binging often develop as a result of deep-rooted psychological beliefs, which CBT can help to address.

This is done with a focus on psychoeducation, self-monitoring your behaviours and analysing your problems and goals.

CBT can support the treatment of BED through the following evidence-based techniques:

  • Identifying and challenging any negative beliefs you have which cause you to binge
  • Developing an understanding of any other psychological issues contributing to the disorder, including diet-related and emotional influences
  • Identifying any cues and triggers for binging behaviours
  • Creating daily food plans
  • Developing relapse avoidance strategies and building awareness of potential future risks
  • Putting healthier eating habits into practice
  • Weekly monitoring of binging behaviours, food consumption and body weight
  • Instilling the message that weight loss is not a treatment goal and should not be actively attempted during treatment
  • Exposure work (more detail below)

Exposure work involves gradually putting yourself in situations that would ordinarily be a source of anxiety for you, with the supervision and support of our team. This could include food shopping in public or cooking a meal for yourself. All these activities are broken down into manageable steps, so that you can learn to face up to triggering situations and eventually eliminate the distress they make you feel.

CBT and other treatment for BED at Life Works

CBT is one of the central interventions we use for BED treatment at Life Works. Using this technique, we are able to help people to achieve the following:

  • More positive and unbiased self-beliefs
  • A reduction in symptoms of BED
  • A healthier relationship with food
  • The start of their recovery journey from BED

Further therapies we use to help people recover from BED include:

  • Body image/acceptance groups
  • Drama and movement therapy
  • Understanding emotions groups
  • Relapse prevention groups
  • Meal and post-meal support
  • Mindfulness

Life Works also offers other treatment techniques for BED. These include various practical methods which put emphasis on the benefits of good nutrition, such as:

  • Weekly shopping groups – these can help you to become comfortable with being out in real-world environments again, as well as with taking on the responsibilities of daily life you will be need to pick up once back home

  • Weekly cooking groups – the purpose of these are to remove the negative emotions which may have become associated with preparing and consuming food, allowing you to enjoy the task and start to have a healthier relationship with food

  • Weekly psycho-educational groups – these will allow you to understand the triggers and underlying emotions for your eating disorders and those of people around you, in order to better manage your long-term recovery

Our high-quality treatment methods are delivered in various formats, through one-to-one therapy, group therapy, seminars, workshops and individual reflection time.

Next steps for seeking binge eating disorder support with Life Works

Try not to be too hard on yourself. We want you to feel assured that you deserve to live a fulfilling life, free from your current pain.

Binge eating disorder is often a reaction to trauma or other mental health struggles. You shouldn’t feel guilt for what you are going through, as everyone’s ability to cope is different. Your experiences are similar to those of many other people we have treated, so we know how to help.

Contact Life Works Today

To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with an eating disorder, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to enquire online.

This page was medically reviewed by David Waller, (BACP, FDAP), Eating Disorder Programme Lead at Life Works.

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