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Binge Eating Disorder Series, Part 2: Does Weight Loss Mean I’ve Recovered from Binge Eating Disorder?


Last week, we discussed how it is possible to be overweight and suffer from an eating disorder. This week we will delve into the topic of whether weight loss is an indicator of a successful recovery from binge eating disorder (BED).

Although it is just as serious as the more well-known eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, binge eating disorder is often dismissed as just a food addiction affecting people who have no self control, even in the medical community. For those who have BED, the stigma associated with obesity and our society’s obsession with perfect bodies can form triggering thoughts that cause them to seek out food for comfort. Unfortunately, it is a poor coping mechanism that causes both physical and mental illnesses.

The stereotypes about obesity, and particularly binge eating, negatively impact the individual who is often even more triggered to overeat, which makes it difficult to overcome BED. You should know, though, that having this mental illness is not a choice you made, as no one would actively choose the shame and discomfort that comes with BED. However, you should also know that people can and do recover from their food addiction/BED. It takes courage and hope to push through an eating disorder, but statistics show that individuals with BED have a greater likelihood of going into remission than those with other eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Why Successful BED Recovery Isn’t Just About Weight Loss

A person who has BED should not just restrict calories – they have likely tried calorie-restrictive diets multiple times, unsuccessfully. Rather, they should focus on restricting negative thoughts. That means different things for different people, but it is mainly centered on healing their relationship with food. Unlike other addictions (such as being addicted to drugs), no one can cut food out of their lives. Patients do need to learn, however, how to establish a healthy, even joyful relationship with food and learn why it’s important to eat to live, not to live to eat.

The appropriate treatment for BED isn’t just about weight loss, as these interventions that are only centered on weight loss are more likely to backfire by resulting in more rapid weight regain and dropping out of all BED treatment altogether. Rather, they must rewire their thinking to interrupt binge eating and understand that internalized weight stigma, also called “fat phobia,” leads to unhealthy efforts to change their body that are unsuccessful.

What Does BED Recovery Look Like?

A person is never fully recovered from BED, rather, they are in continual recovery, and must always be consciously aware of their negative relationships with food and their own bodies. It takes courage and strength to seek treatment and the relief from the immense shame and even physical distress caused by BED and the culture of fat phobia and the eating disorder that results. You can learn how to develop skills to interrupt binge eating, identify your triggers, and learn more about how to love yourself and your body in psychotherapy with a professional psychologist who is trained in how to help those with eating disorders. Finding a weight loss program that understands how to tackle BED recovery is important and to understand that weight is not the only defining characteristic of the disorder.

It isn’t easy to recover from an eating disorder, especially one that isn’t as well-known as others and comes with the added stigma of obesity. At Soza Weight Loss, we are your allies in your efforts to lose weight and keep it off. Contact us at (504) 475-9817 today to discuss your weight loss journey.

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