Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is one of the most common eating disorders in the United States, affecting millions of Americans every single year.
This type of mental illness does not discriminate against anyone and can affect men and women of all ages, backgrounds, and financial and social statuses. It is characterized by feelings of powerlessness which typically lead to compulsive sessions of overeating and are followed by overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment and depression.
During the holidays, eating disorders can be particularly challenging.
With the number of delicious foods and desserts available, temptations seem to be around every corner. Mentions of weight gain, dieting, counting calories and restricting carbs seem to be the undercurrent in many conversations. Magazine covers in the grocery store have pictures of perfectly photoshopped bodies with alluring titles surrounding weight loss.
Binge-eating during the holidays is especially common, which is why we’re going to walk you through how to best navigate this eating disorder during this time of year.
Causes of BED
There are many different binge-eating disorder root causes, including biological, behavioral, environmental, emotional and mental.
Specific binge-eating triggers include:
- Stress, anxiety, boredom
- Environments where others are overindulging
- Increased opportunities to binge
- Feelings of being overweight or negative body image
- Seeing a new or old photo of yourself
Depending on what the nature of your individual holiday season is like, you may experience more triggers in one area of your life than another. Challenging dynamics with loved ones (especially when they make you feel power) are among the most common and aggressive triggers.
How to manage binge eating during the holidays
The holidays are meant to be special, a season full of peace and joy — if you aren’t there yet, that’s okay too. As long as you are making a genuine effort to recover and heal, you will. It might take longer than you expected or wanted, but you will get there.
For now, here are five practical tips to help you manage binge eating during the holidays.
1. Don’t starve yourself to “cancel out” a big meal later
Unfortunately, severely restricting your food intake and then eating a big meal later (whether it’s a technical binge or not) is unhealthy and traumatic for your body, even if the calories from the action technically “even each other out.” Don’t wait to run out of fuel before refilling your tank.
2. Focus on moderation, not restriction
Rather than labeling certain foods “good” and “bad,” consider reframing them in a way that removes the guilt, such as referring to them as “fun foods” (sweets and treats) and “fuel foods” (vegetables, protein, fruit). In addition, be sure to speak with your doctor or other certified professional to learn about how you can enjoy some of your favorite foods without bingeing.
3. Create a game plan for parties
Attending a holiday party will be less stressful if you’ve done a bit of pre-planning for it. Think about what you’re open to eating and how you’re going to approach portion sizes. Consider bringing your own food, or having a “buddy” to check in with regularly throughout the party.
Give yourself permission to skip the event if you aren’t feeling up to it; you and your recovery come first, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
4. Be your own biggest supporter
There’s nothing like having a strong, positive support network made up of your closest family and friends. There’s also nothing like the support you can give yourself. No one else knows what you’ve gone through, how hard you work, how far you’ve come and more.
How much love and support would you give to someone in your shoes? Now, give that to yourself.
5. Seek professional help when you need it
Sometimes the best thing to do for yourself is to reach out to a professional team you trust.
Seeking treatment for an eating disorder can be overwhelming, and one reason that many people never receive the professional support they need is that they simply don’t know where to go from here.
At Seeds of Hope, we like to keep things simple. When you give us a call, you’ll speak with one of our compassionate team members so we can learn more about what type of eating disorder you’re struggling with.
After that evaluation, we’ll work closely with you to create a personally tailored treatment plan that’s designed specifically for you to have a successful, sustainable recovery.
Call us today at 610-644-6464 to get started.