People often think that eating disorders cause people to eat too little and lose too much weight. However, binge eating disorder, a condition that causes the patient to overeat and often gain weight, is also quite prominent. Since it is different from other eating disorders, the treatment protocols also vary somewhat. There is no need to focus on refeeding or limiting exercising. Here is what you can expect if you enter treatment for binge eating disorder.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

In most cases, bingeing is a behavior that the patient has developed to deal with negative emotions, such as sadness, hopelessness, or even anger. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of therapy that aims to determine what conditions lead to the negative emotions and then works with the patient to develop better, healthier ways to deal with those conditions and negative emotions. So, if a patient usually binges when they are feeling stressed after a long day at work, the therapist may work with them to first recognize when they are feeling stressed, and then do something else to dissipate that stress—like go for a jog, meditate, or read a book. Over time, with cognitive-behavioral therapy, the hope is that the patient will binge less and less often until they eventually leave the behavior behind.

Dietary Counseling and Meal Restriction

While in treatment, binge eating disorder patients are usually put on a strict meal plan that has been developed by a dietitian. This serves a couple of different purposes. It helps re-establish what healthy meals are so that the patient later has a better model of how to eat. It also helps break the cycle of bingeing over and over again so that patients learn to truly face and deal with the emotions that are driving them to binge.


Many cases of binge eating disorder are related to depression. The depression may drive the patient to binge, and the bingeing may make them more depressed. Taking antidepressants, even for a few weeks or months, can help break this cycle of depression and keep the patient in a healthier mental state so that they can benefit fully from the cognitive behavioral therapy and dietary counseling they're receiving.

Binge eating disorder does not leave patients underweight, but it is still dangerous and requires treatment. A combination of antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, and dietary counseling is typically quite effective. Contact an eating disorder treatment center for more information.