*Disclaimer: this post re-caps my personal highlights and gems learned during the BEDA conference. It’s much longer than I normally write for a blog post.
I just returned from a trip to Scottsdale, AZ for the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA). Not only was the 90 degree weather therapeutic, but the speakers and networking was nourishment to my soul! I wanted to share with you the many gems that I took away from the conference.
Theme: Coming in to the Light
Chevese Turner is the founder of BEDA, an organization working towards the recognition, prevention, and treatment of Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Eating disorders have the highest suicide rate of any other mental illness. It’s time to bring these issues to light and that is exactly what this conference did.
B. Tim Walsh– chair of the Eating Disorders Work Group for the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Binge Eating Disorder is not currently a recognized mental illness by the APA. However, it is being considered for the DSM-V which is slated to be out in 2013. It is not too late to share your voice! Recognizing BED as an eating disorder is vital to giving the disease validity, which facilitates appropriate treatment protocols and future research of the disease.
Ralph E. Carson– PhD, RD Registered Dietitian and Neuroscientist
Dr Carson discussed the neurochemistry of a binge. Delving into the science is beyond the scope of this blog, however my take home from his talk is that a person experiences hunger, fullness, and satiety very differently than a person without it. And now we understand that this is due to critical physiological differences in brain structure. The exciting news is that brains are plastic and able to change! A person with BED can change their brain by practicing mindfulness, which will be discussed later.
Reba Sloan MPH, RD
Reba discussed counseling strategies for Type 2 diabetes. She shared some great thoughts:
- There are many triggers that encourage us to overeat, including environment and emotions. It is easier to guard against environment than emotions.
- Rather than forbidding foods, ask yourself “Do I have the skill level to eat this food in moderation?” If the answer is no, think about ways you can allow yourself to eat the foods you are craving without going overboard (ie going out for it rather than keeping it at home, eating with a friend rather than alone)
- Guilt and shame are like quicksand- they immobilize you.
- The restricted brain is an obsessed brain
- Carolyn Coker-Ross MD, MPH
Dr Coker-Ross spoke about the difficulties and strategies of treating BED and obesity.
Fact: 1/3 of people with obesity suffer from BED
Fact: treating BED with dieting is not the solution. Diets have a 97% failure rate and predict future weight gain
Fact: BED is 57% hereditable
Fact: Individuals with BED have an exaggerated stress response, which is a risk factor for binging, insulin resistance, and weight gain. **Practicing mindfulness through yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or spending time in nature increases cortisol ad decreases the stress response.
Fact: Research shows that utilizing a Health At Every Size model WORKS. Health, not weight is the #1 priority.
Susan Albers PsyD
Wendy Oliver-Pyatt MD, FAED
Dr. Oliver-Pyatt spoke on finding common pathways to address obesity concerns while preventing eating disorders and weight bias. Her talk was the absolute highlight of the conference (for me) and I wish I could share it all with you. If you are concerned about obesity, please read the Academy of Eating Disorders position statement on the prevention of obesity in children, co-authored by Dr. Oliver-Pyatt. Because weight is not a behavior, it is not an appropriate target. We need to appropriately target healthy behavior, regardless of weight.
Michelle May MD
Dr May is full of life, energy, and a common sense approach to food and eating. If you want to improve your relationship with food, buy her book “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.” She led us through a mindful lunch. Here were some of my favorite one-liners:
Mindful eating is about eating with intention and attention
Having an awareness of why you’re eating gives you valuable information about your food choices. If you’re eating chocolate for pleasure or reward, eating it in a pleasurable or rewarding way! You can’t enjoy it if you swallow it without chewing while rushing to a meeting.
Eating the right amount of food isn’t about being good, it’s about feeling good.
Your desire to binge on food will decrease as you stay connected to feelings of hunger and fullness.
Use nutrition as an awareness tool, not a weapon or religion
Being present with your food is about loving your food more. We obsess over food constantly…yet when we eat we are distracted from the experience.
You can’t enjoy the food in your mouth if you are busy loading your fork with the next bite!