How Long Will It Take to Stop Bingeing Completely?

By November 19, 2012

I have been bingeing for two years. I eventually began to diet and over-exercise between binges and lost over 20 pounds. This brought me to an extremely low weight because I wasn’t overweight to begin with and my BMI reached below **. I was approached by my family and I am receiving counseling as well as going through the book Overcoming Binge Eating by Dr. Fairburn. I have stopped dieting and over-exercising, yet I still binge 1 to 2 times a week. I am 5’4″ and I don’t know a good weight for me. I feel hopeless that the binges will ever end, and there are times I pray that God would take me home. Is there a story or book of someone who has overcome the bingeing demon? What should be my target weight? About how long will it take to stop bingeing completely? – H.J.E.

Dear H.J.E.,

Thank you for your question. Eating disorders can be very difficult disorders that sometimes require very intensive treatment. There is no exact timetable for recovery as each person is unique. I am happy to hear that you are seeing a counselor and reading a book by Christopher Fairburn who is an expert in this field.

There are certain risk factors for binge eating and among them are dieting, propensity for perfectionism, history of weight cycling, exposure to western media, history of parental depression, history of being teased, and history of abuse.

It’s also important to know that the more likely someone is to diet, the more likely someone is binge eat. So it would also be good for you to see a nutritionist who can help you assess normal portions and help develop a meal schedule and meal plan for you that would allow you to get in all the nutrients from all the food groups each day. Sometimes that alone can eliminate binge eating episodes from occurring.

I usually think about treating an eating disorder from a three prong approach: medical, psychological, and nutritional. I would say it would also be important to see a physician to assess for all the medical problems that can occur from an eating disorder. A physician and a nutritionist could also tell you what your ideal weight would be. It depends on your bone structure and your height. For most women, their true ideal body weight is when their menstrual cycles are normal and hormones are working properly which also depends on your % body fat.

Sometimes, if someone has been in out-patient therapy for a while, it is necessary to go to an in-patient eating disorder facility. See “Finding Treatment” for more information.

I hope the best in your recovery.

Tom Scales, MD