Binge Eating Disorder Treatment: How Does Virtual Care Work?

By Megan Simpson Teeter

If you or someone you love is struggling with binge eating disorder (BED), know that recovery is possible. Virtual care from the comfort of home can be a great option for folks to address BED triggers and behaviors where they happen, setting the foundation for a peaceful relationship with food.

BED is the most common eating disorder, affecting millions of individuals across the United States. Characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large amounts of food, often accompanied by the feeling of being out of control, BED can feel overwhelming.

However, there is hope, and support is within reach -- perhaps even closer than you might imagine.

How does virtual binge eating disorder treatment work?

Let's explore how virtual BED treatment offers a unique and effective approach to healing in the comfort of your own home. Patients can participate from their couch or favorite spot at home. With therapy, group sessions and nutritional guidance, virtual care can provide a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to treatment.

This format allows people to participate in treatment without the need for in-person visits. It's all about convenience and privacy in your own space, fitting seamlessly into your everyday life.

Virtual care typically consists of weekly one-on-one and group sessions that provide a structured and supportive space, exclusively for those with BED. During group sessions, patients practice skills, have meals together, and process thoughts and emotions together.

The best virtual care consists of prescheduled sessions with the same treatment team and peers so everyone feels safe and comfortable within their group.

Binge eating disorder treatment plan

A successful BED treatment plan involves a combination of evidence-based therapeutic approaches personalized to your unique needs. While specific treatment plans may vary, following are some of the key modalities and what they will help you do:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors related to binge eating while gaining practical tools.
  2. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): Gain flexibility with your thoughts and emotions while committing to actions in line with your values.
  3. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): Learn how to use mindfulness to manage emotions and develop coping skills.
  4. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): Improve relationships, gain communication skills and address social factors contributing to BED.

Through specialized programming, participants learn inclusive and mindful eating, dismantle diet culture expectations, gain confidence in preparing and cooking meals and, most importantly, find freedom from shame and guilt. And a flexible nutritional approach is key.

“In our BED program, our nutrition approach is structured yet flexible,” explains Kristie Simmons, MS, RD, CEDRD-S, nutrition director of virtual services at Eating Recovery Center. “We encourage an inclusive philosophy around food and provide guidelines but refrain from being prescriptive, as we feel that can perpetuate the diet mentality.”

Treatment goals for binge eating disorder

BED treatment focuses on:

  1. Identifying triggers. By knowing what triggers your binge eating behaviors, we can find ways to spot and cope with them differently.
  2. Changing thought patterns. Cognitive restructuring means challenging negative thoughts about food and your body.
  3. Developing coping skills. We also teach ways to handle stress, anxiety and tough moments. 
  4. Nourishing the body. Nutritional guidance is an essential aspect of treatment, laying the foundation for a peaceful relationship with food.

Teen binge eating disorder

BED can affect teenagers just as it does adults. Spotting BED in teens can be tricky because it often happens along with other things they might be struggling with at that age, like feeling anxious, sad or worried about how they look. Recognizing the signs and symptoms is the first step. These might include:

  • Eating a lot in a short time
  • Eating past feeling full
  • Feeling guilt or shame after meals

Specialized treatment for teens

Teenagers dealing with BED need unique care that's designed for their age group. Here's what treatment can look like:

  1. Evidence-based therapies: Teens with BED often talk to trained therapists who use some of the methods mentioned above, like talking and learning new ways to think about things (CBT), dealing with tough feelings (ACT) and finding better ways to handle emotions (DBT) -- all adjusted to work for them. These therapies help teens manage their thoughts and feelings, learn better ways to cope and feel better about food.
  2. Family involvement: Families are important in helping teens during recovery. Having parents or other family members join in helps the teen feel more supported and sets the entire family up for success in recovery.
  3. Nutritional support: Adolescents with BED benefit from working with a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. The dietitian helps teens learn about balanced eating habits and how to stop harmful dieting.
  4. Peer support: Group therapy sessions with peers going through similar struggles can provide a sense of community and understanding. It's a way to make friends who understand and can support each other.
  5. Emphasis on self-esteem: Teenagers often deal with self-esteem issues. Treatment for BED includes building body confidence and helping to develop a more positive self-image.
  6. Comprehensive care: A comprehensive approach involves addressing not only the symptoms of BED but also any other emotional issues or co-occurring disorders, like anxiety or depression. The goal is a holistic and lasting recovery.

Find virtual binge eating disorder treatment

Eating Recovery At Home, our virtual program for eating disorders, includes specialized programming for BED. Learn more about how you or a loved one can heal at home.

Additionally, virtual support groups let people with BED talk to others who genuinely "get it." These groups offer a safe space to share challenges, successes and strategies for managing BED.

Healing from BED is possible, and access to effective treatment has never been more convenient. At Eating Recovery Center, our experienced team will walk alongside you on your path, through hope, connection, education and, eventually, freedom. 

Wondering if you could benefit from BED treatment? Take our quiz on BED here.

Written by

Megan Simpson Teeter

Megan is a copywriter and content strategist with over a decade of experience and a background in psychology. Having had some training in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, and as a woman in…

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