I’ve had several requests to share about the binge eating disorder treatment program I completed, so I will share some of the things I learned there and what the experience was like. The center that ran the treatment program is called The Emily Program in Beachwood, Ohio. It is the only program of it’s kind in the country according to the program director. I am very fortune to only live about a half an hour away from it and have it accessible to me. The program was 3 days a week for 3 hours. It ran for 6 weeks. It was intensive outpatient therapy (IOP.) I have attended IOPs in the past but always for depression and anxiety and coping with the everyday. This particular program focused solely on binge eating and other issues surrounding it.
Each treatment session included cognitive behavior therapy and reviewing our food logs and goals. For the food logs we would write when we had our food and what we ate, any emotions or circumstances surrounding the meal, urges to binge, and our hunger/fullness cues before and after our meal. It the beginning it was hard to judge ones level of hunger and fullness but by 3 weeks in I had developed proper hunger/fullness cues.
Twice a week we would have an exposure with our meal. An exposure was a food that we normally binged on and caused us anxiety when we eat it or overeat it. We learned no food was off limits to eat in our daily life. Years of dieting and restricting certain foods leads to disordered behavior. I personally feel like weight loss surgery made my binge eating worse. We made a hierarchy of the foods we binged on. So if you binged on cupcakes you would bring in cupcakes for one week of exposures and maybe cake another week. You would plate it with your meal and have it sit there while you are eating the dinner that you brought. Your anxiety is typically high at the beginning of dinner time but by the time you dig into your exposure food your anxiety decreases and you realize that can have a cupcake anytime you like in your life. It evenually is no longer is a scary food you. Eventually I lost interest in all the foods I binged on in the past and don’t eat them very often anymore. We also covered various topics of nutrition and body image through the sessions.
On the final session of the week we would have a mindful snack. We brought whatever we liked for the snack and went through a process of smelling the food, touching the food, tasting the food, and eventually eating it. Some of realized that some foods aren’t as good when eaten mindfully such as Cheese-its or Doritos.
I was extremely pleased with the program and feel that it has changed my life, I only wish that it had existed years ago, then things in my life may have been very different.