Binge Eating

Similar to a woman suffering with bulimia, a woman with binge eating disorder (BED) battles feelings toward food that are intertwined with fear, anger, anxiety, loss or shame. As binge eating cycles progress, her emotions become so complicated that she can’t even understand why she continues to binge.

However, because she lacks the widely recognized purging symptoms of bulimia, she may face an uphill battle as she seeks understanding of her relationship with food. This can make it difficult to receive proper medical treatment for this serious eating disorder.

Looking at the Whole Person, Not Just Eating Disorders

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center takes great care to understand a woman’s entire history of addictive or compulsive behavior, given the role that these co-occurring conditions will have on treatment and recovery from binge eating disorder. Psychiatric conditions commonly co-existing with binge eating disorder may include:

  • depression
  • panic and anxiety disorders
  • sleep disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • obsessive compulsive personality disorder (or OCD)
  • substance abuse or dependence

While many binge eating disorder treatment programs focus exclusively on treating symptoms of disordered eating, our team takes a step back and looks at the whole person. Through our experience, we’ve learned that many women suffering with binge eating disorders also have other unidentified co-occurring disorders or addictive behavior patterns. These misunderstood conditions may either contribute to her triggers of bingeing, or they may develop as she attempts to cope with side effects of her eating disorder.

How Do We Create Effective, Individualized Binge Eating Treatment Plans?

Thoughtful approaches to eating disorder treatment and recovery consider all available information about a resident, and leverage the experience of our entire staff to customize each woman’s treatment program. This collaborative approach is one of the distinguishing elements of binge eating treatment at a leading rehab center like Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. It’s also one of the reasons why so many leading outpatient eating disorder specialists refer to us their patients who need more intensive treatment, or who have struggled to sustain recovery in an outpatient setting.

Before Admission

Assessment of a woman’s treatment needs begins early on in our admissions review process. We ask both the woman and her family to provide information about her binge eating symptoms, issues with friends and family, and challenges in school or work. We also seek her permission to communicate with previous eating disorder treatment providers to gather additional information about medical history, psychiatric history, past eating disorder treatment progress, and stumbling blocks to achieving or maintaining recovery from binge eating.

Thorough Intake Assessment

Once she is admitted, each woman undergoes a comprehensive medical and psychiatric assessment. She is then assigned an eating disorder treatment team with several members whom she will meet individually after she settles in on campus:

  • Primary therapist
  • Family therapist
  • Psychiatrist (MD)
  • Internal medicine physician (MD)
  • Registered dietician (RD)
  • Eating disorders specialist

Each treatment team member provides an assessment within the woman’s first days at Timberline Knolls. The findings are integrated and reviewed with our entire clinical staff, including other therapists and psychiatrists. As a result, our full knowledge about successful binge eating disorder treatment is integrated into each woman’s treatment plan.

Taking Ownership of Treatment

We believe it is critical for each woman to take ownership of her treatment and recovery from the outset. Once her treatment plan is formulated, our team’s recommendations are shared with the woman in her first care conference, which will include her primary therapist, family therapist, psychiatrist, discharge planner, nursing staff and lodge staff. This cooperative approach gives her input into the goals for her treatment and allows her to choose several elective elements of her program. She will be asked to sign off on her treatment objectives and the progression of her treatment plan for binge eating disorder and any other co-occurring psychiatric or addictive disorders. This conference also sets stage for ongoing collaboration between the woman and her treatment team throughout her stay in residential treatment.

Looking Forward to Recovery

Following the initial care conference, the treatment team will meet weekly throughout the resident’s stay, and consult each other informally to monitor her progress and to make sure her recovery needs are being fully supported. If new symptoms appear, a woman may also undergo additional psychological testing or medical evaluation to insure her binge eating disorder treatment considers all relevant aspects of her health.

Additionally, women with other medical symptoms or complications from binge eating disorders, bulimia, or anorexia may be referred to consulting healthcare providers such as a dentist, cardiologist, gynecologist, orthopedic surgeon, or gastroenterologist.

Our Staff is Committed to Meeting You Where You Are

Every woman who commits to binge eating disorder treatment brings her own story of challenges, emotions, and heartache. We focus on meeting each woman where she is, and supporting her in an uplifting, empowering manner, not through shaming or policing her behavior.

Several members of our eating disorder treatment staff have personal experience overcoming an eating disorder. Our psychiatrists and therapists know that a woman doesn’t want to engage in uncontrolled binges, but that symptoms are an attempt to cope with complicated emotions. We also understand the complex fears and obstacles that come with committing to binge eating treatment and seeking a new path with different behaviors and ways of thinking.

That’s why we take such an integrated, individualized approach to eating disorder treatment by helping girls and women:

  • Identify emotional triggers for binges, which may have underlying causes that have not been properly identified or addressed
  • Create awareness of healthy ways to respond to fear, anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, trauma or shame
  • Avoid destructive “either/or” thought patterns that add to the experience of hopelessness and unmanageability for many women in their disease
  • Develop confidence in her potential to make healthy choices to manage emotions

We don’t make assumptions about a resident’s experience and needs based on her age, weight, or patterns of bingeing. Residents receive coaching and reinforcement that is individualized to help them grow in key areas of interpersonal skills, distress tolerance and management, reality acceptance skills, and emotional regulation skills.

What Will You Experience During Binge Eating Treatment?

A woman’s experience at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center may differ significantly from other eating disorder rehab facilities or bulimia treatment programs she has attended. That is our intent.

Comprehensive, Integrated Treatment and Recovery

There is no such thing as a miracle cure for binge eating disorders, or any other type of eating disorder.

Every woman who seeks recovery from binge eating must develop tools she can trust to help manage emotions that trigger binges. We work with our residents help them learn to recognize their feelings and identify the conscious choices they are making throughout their day. Through constant, supportive reinforcement women learn to trust the tools we give them in situations where they would have previously responded by bingeing. As they gain confidence in their ability to make positive, healthy choices, they experience improved self-esteem and body acceptance, reduced stress and anxiety, healing of trauma, and increased self-awareness.

Comprehensive and individualized eating disorder treatment plans use approaches proven to help women learn to healthfully experience their emotions and develop the tools to recover from binge eating. Specific examples include:

  • one-on-one therapy sessions
  • expressive and experiential therapy (see below)
  • education about disease processes and recovery
  • meal support and regular consultation with dietary staff
  • group sessions to teach and practice behavior modification and emotion management
  • family therapy (including family participation)
  • twelve-step facilitation
  • onsite and offsite twelve-step meetings
  • weekly psychiatric consultation
  • trauma awareness and recovery
  • educational services for school-age women

Expressive Therapy Provides a Healthy Outlet for Emotions

Expressive therapy has been clinically proven to promote healing and recovery. It also provides a needed creative outlet for women during binge eating disorder treatment, and after they return to their home environment. Our expressive therapy program includes a variety of outlets a woman can select based on her personal interests:

  • art therapy in a historical art studio that supports painting, sculpture and other medias
  • dance/movement therapy
  • empowerment group
  • movement therapy and self-defense in our on-site fitness facility
  • outdoor recreation such as volleyball, basketball, soccer, badminton or gardening on our 43 acre campus

A Realistic, Supportive Approach to Nutrition

Many women and girls come to residential treatment for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders with great apprehension about meals. Our treatment team believes that healthy changes in eating behavior begin with listening and empathy, not with policing or judgment.

Our nutrition and eating disorder treatment staff focuses on creating an environment where a woman can feel safe expressing her emotions about food and eating. Learning to verbalize her feelings, she will start to realize that she is not alone with her illness, or in her struggle to cope with her stress, anxiety and shame. Our nutritional philosophy focuses on supporting women as they seek this awareness and helping them develop confidence in their ability to surrender to the help available to make healthy choices about food. Experiential activities like grocery shopping and cooking give residents the chance to practice skills needed to overcome binge eating disorder while still surrounded by eating disorder treatment professionals who understand their emotional challenges.

We recognize that successful treatment for bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorders must also equip a woman’s family to engage in the recovery process during and following her stay at a residential treatment center. Nutrition and meal preparation approaches are part of weekly family conferences over the phone, as well as hands on sessions with our eating disorder specialists and dieticians during on-campus visits. When clinically appropriate, we may also encourage the family to practice these skills together during a during off-campus meals.

Watch a video with Timberline Knolls on binge eating and eating disorder recovery.

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