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February 23, 2024

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Understanding Binge Eating Disorder with Lisa Robinson-Mihiar, RDN

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is an annual event that sheds light on the various types of eating disorders affecting millions of lives worldwide. Among these disorders, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) often goes unnoticed or misunderstood. Binge eating disorder affects almost half of those diagnosed with eating disorders. Eating disorders are not a choice but are serious mental illnesses and can have significant impacts on all aspects of a person’s life – physical, emotional and social. The earlier an eating disorder is identified, and a person can access treatment, the greater the opportunity for recovery or improved quality of life.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming unusually large quantities of food within a limited timeframe. Those afflicted with BED often experience a lack of control during these eating episodes, and afterwards experience high levels of distress, shame, and guilt. What distinguishes BED from other eating disorders is the absence of compensatory behaviors, such as purging or excessive exercise, following these episodes.

What are Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?

Consuming an abnormally large amount of food in a specific time frame.

Feeling a lack of control during binge-eating episodes.

Rapid eating, even when not physically hungry.

Eating in isolation due to embarrassment about the quantity, or type, of food consumed.

Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, or distress after a binge episode.

What are Causes of Binge Eating Disorder?

The precise causes of Binge Eating Disorder are unclear, but a blend of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors are believed to contribute to its development. Common risk factors include a history of dieting, a family history of eating disorders, the presence of psychological conditions such as depression or anxiety, and societal pressures related to body image and weight.

Demographics: Who is Likely to Have Binge Eating Disorder?

People with eating disorders often suffer in silence. This makes it difficult for researchers to identify the number of people affected by these disorders. However, it is estimated that 3.5% of women, 2% of men and 1.6% of adolescents have BED. Binge eating disorder is seen among all age groups, races, and income levels, and though it is most prevalent among women, it is also the most common eating disorder among men.

The Importance of Awareness and Education

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week serves as a conversation starter for dispelling myths and misinformation surrounding eating disorders. A key objective is to help people understand Binge Eating Disorder, emphasizing that it is a legitimate medical condition rather than a mere lack of willpower or self-control. By fostering awareness, we can dismantle the stigma attached to BED, empowering those affected to seek help without fear of judgment.

Seeking Help and Treatment Options for Binge Eating Disorder

Individuals struggling with Binge Eating Disorder often face unique challenges when reaching out for assistance, as shame and embarrassment can impede their journey toward recovery. Seeking professional help is important for managing and overcoming BED. Treatment options may include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, and nutritional counseling. The support of friends and family also plays a vital role in the recovery process.

Beyond formal treatment, promoting a healthy relationship with food is a critical aspect of BED recovery. This involves working towards a balanced and intuitive approach to eating, emphasizing mindfulness and self-compassion. Encouraging open dialogues about mental health and body image can contribute significantly to creating a supportive environment for individuals affected by BED.

As National Eating Disorder Awareness Week unfolds, let us recognize that understanding and empathy are important tools in helping those with Binge Eating Disorder seek help. By educating ourselves and others, we can contribute to a more compassionate society that supports individuals on their journey to recovery. Together, we can make significant strides in reducing the stigma associated with BED and other eating disorders, fostering an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

Avance Care is here for your recovery.

Avance Care has providers who are trained in eating disorder treatment. To get connected with our team, contact our nutrition coordinators at:  919- 237-1337, option 4.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder and need immediate help, call or text the national help line 800-931-2237


  • National Eating Disorder Collaboration:
  • The Emily Program:
  • National Eating Disorder Association:
  • Academy for Eating Disorders

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