Type 2 Diabetes and Binge Eating Disorder

You’ve probably heard of anorexia and bulimia, but have you ever heard of binge eating disorder (BED)?

BED is the most common eating disorder in the US and affects about 3.5% of women and 2% of men, and is characterized by eating much more food than normal in a short period of time, all while feeling a loss of control. Another key factor? It happens over and over; this isn’t about eating too much on Thanksgiving. It’s actually the most common eating disorder in the U.S., sometimes called Compulsive Overeating.

According to the American Diabetes Association, research suggests women who have diabetes are more likely to have an eating disorder than women who do not, and women with Type 2 Diabetes are most likely to have BED.

Interestingly, one study showed that girls with binge eating disorder were six times more likely to develop diabetes than their non-binging counterparts, regardless of their BMI.

In other words, it appears binge eating leads to diabetes, and if you have type 2 diabetes you’re more likely to struggle with binge eating than someone who doesn’t have this chronic condition.

But how do you stop binge eating?

This is a question I often asked myself, as I, too, struggled with BED in my late twenties and early 30’s. I would eat and eat until I felt uncomfortably full, promise myself I’d never do it again, and then the same thing would happen the next day or the next week. It felt never ending.

I was able to recover from BED through a combination of self-help practices, counseling, and most importantly, accepting my body and giving up strict food rules. (Dieting and strict rules worked for a while but made me feel crazy and out of control if I was confronted with a forbidden food, which led to even more binging.)

That’s what worked for me, but what does the research say about recovering from binge eating?

  • Therapy. One of the most well-established treatments for BED is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This involves breaking the diet-binge cycle and helps patients develop more structured (and healthier) eating patterns and to become less concerned about their overall body weight and shape. It also allows a patient to develop health weight-control behaviors without restricting too much.
  • Drugs. What about a pharmaceutical option? Well, there are a few drugs that are alleged to help with BED, though it’s unclear how much they help. When combined with CBT, they are probably more effective.
  • Self-Help. You can overcome BED on your own, but with help from a therapist, especially one trained specifically in eating disorders and CBT, you have a greater chance of success.
  • Diets. What about just sticking to a diet? Well, if it was that easy, then no one would struggle with BED or weight, you know? It’s feasible to stick to a diet for a short period of time, but it won’t cure binge eating (I know this from personal experience!).
  • Intuitive eating. Another method for overcoming BED is Intuitive Eating. Developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the 10 principals of intuitive eating are designed to help people let go of the diet mentality, honor their bodies with gentle nutrition, and cope with emotions without the use of food. Research is promising that following this method helps ease BED symptoms, though more studies need to be done.

If you’re struggling with binge eating, the best thing you can do is get hooked up with someone who specializing in treating this quite common disorder. With the right help you can get better.

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