Excitement around Binge Eating Disorder and a Reminder that Treatment Saves Lives

I was recently in Bethesda Maryland, home of many respected national institutes of health, attending the 3rd annual Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) conference.

Of all of the eating disorder conferences, this one is a favorite of mine. In part because it’s close to its roots, as a relatively new organization: in part because its founder is a walking, talking picture of recovery and hope; and in part because it brings together people from all different perspectives, who are genuinely interested in connecting and learning from each other.

It’s similar to going to a college tournament basketball game in March as opposed to a Chicago Bulls game. There’s something much more raw, pure and real about the college game that gets lost in the in the big leagues. And BEDA is a big league organization that somehow manages to keep it real.

The BEDA conference this year had an extra buzz of energy due to the fact that the next version of the diagnostic manual (DSM 5) will be the first to include binge eating disorder (BED) as a legitimate and real psychiatric diagnosis.  Some issues raised were: Will insurance cover treatment for it? What are the best treatments? Is food addiction real (yes!)? Questions such as these had professionals, families and individuals as well as advocacy professionals astir.

And, BEDA does not forget to celebrate after a long day of presentations and debates. The Saturday night gala exemplifies this!

Another highlight from conference this year was the opportunity I had to have coffee with a Timberline Knolls alumna. She is a miracle.  I first met her when she was in her late teens, ravaged by an eating disorder, substance abuse, self-injury and of course (and always) trauma. Now, here she was, sitting across from me, beaming with joy and health, living her meaningful life, pursuing the career of her dreams and kicking major butt in her field. It’s a miracle and a blessing to witness her recovery. And, it’s an awesome reminder that treatment really works. Not only to keep people who otherwise would die alive, but to get them on a path of having an abundantly happy, joyous and free life.