The BEDA community was created for you. Here is where you will find the information, resources, and support you seek to help you get where you need to go on your journey with binge eating disorder—wherever that may be.
I am writing to your program because I don’t know what to do anymore. I have been a binge eater most of my life. I have gained and lost weight so many times I can’t count. I have never been ok with my weight, and I have to change. All I think about is food and eating. My body is hideous, and I’m scared of just gaining weight forever. My life is passing away, and I’m not even in it. I just can’t get in control of anything anymore. I don’t know if anything can make this better. I’ve tried everything, but I just can’t stop this. I’ve been in therapy before, but my bingeing has never been talked about. I am so sad and afraid, and angry with myself. Please help.
Emails such as Sarah’s are almost a daily occurrence in our clinics. When I started my career 25 years ago, binge eating disorder had virtually no name in the professional eating disorder community.
Treatment, when it was even suggested as necessary, consisted of helping clients become better equipped to deal with their internal critical thinking, and thereby, ironically, remain on their diet plans. The goal was to be thin. This was, after all, the bar by which to measure progress.
Knowledge is power
No one understood the high rates of trauma and PTSD, co-occurring depression and anxiety, or the impact of weight stigma on the development of binge eating disorder. No one understood the genetic and neurological complexities, or the possible impact of family dynamics. In fact, virtually none of what we now know to be fundamental in treatment to make way for real recovery—much more than behavior change, was addressed.
15 million men and women struggle with binge eating disorder (we are just beginning to assess the number of children effected). We know that binge eating disorder does not discriminate: people of all socioeconomic groups, all races, both genders, and many ages, struggle with this psychologically devastating disorder.
The impact of binge eating disorder on the lives of those struggling is inestimable. The fundamental experience of being in the world is so often filtered through a lens of shame about body and self, and most every aspect of life is impacted.
At last, awareness of binge eating disorder is growing, as the DSM inclusion has made clearly manifest. More and more people are recognizing binge eating disorder for the debilitating disorder it can be. And there is a growing understanding that, while binge eating disorder has much in common with the other eating disorders, it also has unique features that must be addressed.
I am thrilled to be involved with an organization that is so directly and powerfully challenging old ways of thinking about binge eating disorder.
Access to care
BEDA is uniquely positioned to influence access to high quality treatment, propose directions for continued research, and challenge influences like weight stigma, and the dieting and weight loss practices that entrench this disorder. With these efforts, acknowledging the need for treatment will be established, and more people will have access to essential help and support.
I am especially excited about the year ahead. With inclusion in the DSM-5, we are entering a new opportunity for understanding about binge eating disorder in the clinical and research communities, and in public awareness. It is an important part of BEDA’s mission to create venues for both the art and science of treatment to advance. To that end, the BEDA board is working to bring critical information to professionals and the public about best practices for treatment.
Access to resources
This year, BEDA will be offering education initiatives for professionals, webinars, and an expanded website. The website will provide information about etiology, co-occurring disorders, and screening and treatment. It will also feature resources for schools, parents, and those with the disorder who are seeking help. It will include a blog for professionals, as well as stories of recovery. Binge eating disorder experts, as well as those in complementary fields such as trauma treatment, will contribute.
Input from thought leaders
The site will also feature information about important movements in our field, including intuitive eating and movement, “Health at Every Size,” mindfulness, and a variety of other topics of interest. Information about the latest research directions and findings will also be included. BEDA is amazingly fortunate to have on our board and as advisors some of the leaders in binge eating disorder research and treatment paradigms, and we are delighted to offer their perspectives and information on current findings.
Stopping weight stigma
BEDA is also in its third year of the Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW) campaign. This groundbreaking initiative, through online blogging, outreach to professionals, and other social media, has raised awareness about an issue at the heart of all eating disorders. Weight Stigma Awareness Week will continue to celebrate size diversity, honoring a goal of health over weight loss and challenging the paradigm of body shame as a form of “normative discontent.”
Weight stigma is a primary contributor to the toxic shame that is so often at the heart of binge eating disorder, and it must be challenged in our culture, as well as in the clinical office. It is outrageously unacceptable that body shame is the normal experience for the vast majority of women and girls, and increasing numbers of men and boys. Weight Stigma Awareness Week is committed to challenging the notion of your body as your billboard of worth and acceptability, and creating space in the collective consciousness for your body as your home instead.
Bringing BED from beneath the floorboards
In addition, for 2013, BEDA and partners ANAD and NORMAL will continue working on the documentary Beneath the Floorboards. Produced by Robyn Hussa’s company White Elephant, this 90-minute feature-length documentary follows Chevese Turner’s story of recovery from binge eating disorder and the impact of weight stigma on her journey. Experts in treatment and research also offer their thoughts about what needs to change going forward, and how the clinical and research communities can best address recovery. This is the first film of its kind, and we are very excited about the awareness this can bring to a large audience. Watch the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h39w7nMqyNo
Thank you for being you
Finally, I am grateful to those in recovery from binge eating disorder and their families and supporters. You are why BEDA exists.
I, too, have faced recovery from binge eating disorder, and it has been the most difficult, rewarding, empowering, and humbling journey of my life. Recovery has given me not only my Self back, but a profound appreciation for the courage these journeys require of us all. I have felt at home among the members of BEDA, and I want most of all for BEDA to create that space for you.
I wish you all the best in your journey.
With kindest regards,
Amy Pershing, LMSW, ACSW, is co-founder and executive director of Pershing Turner Centers of Annapolis and clinical director of The Center for Eating Disorders of Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI. She is chair of the BEDA board of directors. Read more about Amy. https://bedaonline.com/about-beda/board-of-directors/amypershing/