Binge-eating disorder (BED) is a mental health condition that is characterized by regularly eating excessive amounts of food, far more than most people would typically eat in a similar time period, and continues to eat despite feeling full. During these episodes of binge-eating, individuals feel out of control of the amount of food that they are consuming and experience feelings of extreme guilt and shame once the binge has ended. Not only does binge-eating disorder affect a person’s overall physical health, but it can also interfere with an individual’s ability to function in a healthy manner on a day-to-day basis.
At Structure House, we understand the inner turmoil and distress that comes along with the presence of binge-eating disorder, as well as the challenges that these individuals face on a regular basis.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
If you have seen warning signs in your loved one that has led you to suspect that he or she may be suffering from binge-eating disorder, you may find yourself facing a delicate situation. On one hand, you are worried about your loved one and his or her health but, on the other hand, you do not want to upset him or her. However difficult it may be, it is important that you share your concerns with your loved one so that, if he or she is indeed engaging in binge-eating behaviors, he or she can get the help needed to avoid the development of potentially dangerous consequences further down the road. Described in more detail below are some tips for helping a loved one who has BED:
- Encourage your loved one to get professional help as soon as possible.
- Be supportive by listening without being judgmental and making sure that your loved one knows that you are truly concerned about his or her overall well-being.
- Avoid insulting, lecturing, or using guilt trips when talking with your loved one. Those with binge-eating disorder already tend to have a low self-esteem and feel horrible about their behaviors. Lecturing your loved one, or getting angry with him or her, will only make matters worse and could increase the frequency of his or her binge-eating behaviors.
- Try to set a good example for your loved one by eating healthy, exercising, and using stress reduction techniques that do not involve food.
- Be sure to continue to take care of yourself. Sometimes it can be stressful to support a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder and, by taking care of yourself, you will be able to offer a stronger level of empathic support for your loved one.
While the decision for treatment ultimately has to be made by your loved one, simply offering your compassion, encouragement, and support can go a long way in helping him or her make more healthy decisions about his or her lifestyle. If at first your loved one does not believe he or she has a problem, over time, he or she may begin to realize that professional help is, indeed, necessary.
Why Consider Treatment at Structure House
When an individual has been engaging in binge-eating behaviors, it can lead to the development of a number of different physical, emotional, and social problems. In addition to weight gain, those with binge-eating disorder usually report more health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, and sleep apnea. These individuals are also more likely to experience stress, suffer from insomnia, and have thoughts of suicide. Furthermore, mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, are common symptoms that have been known to develop in those with BED. Because of the variety of consequences that can occur as the result of binge-eating, it usually requires a combination of therapeutic interventions provided by behavioral health professionals in order to stop the destructive behaviors, while also addressing the additional psychological concerns that may have arisen as a result of such behaviors.
Structure House has long recognized the unique needs of overweight binge eaters, and has designed the Bridge Program to target treatment for this special population. The Bridge Program blends the legitimate need for weight loss strategies with techniques for regulating and normalizing eating. The Bridge Program is based on a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) foundation, an evidenced based, therapeutic interventional approach which focuses on four main skill development areas: emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and distress tolerance. The four week cycle of the Bridge Program reflects these four essential skill areas, as each week of the Bridge Program skills training in one of these four areas occurs. The Bridge Program also provides individualized nutrition counseling and psychotherapy, eating exposure sessions designed to neutralize the trigger power of certain foods, and sessions which address psychologically relevant topics to this population, such as body image and relapse prevention and management.
Types of Treatment Offered at Structure House
At Structure House, we are fully committed to providing those who are entrusted into our care with the tools needed to lose weight and improve their lifestyle. Our four-week, new participant program offers a variety of services to ensure that individuals who participate in our program will meet their personal weight loss and health goals. Our program is behaviorally-based, meaning that instead of providing solely medical weight loss strategies, such as surgeries or medications, we provide scientifically-based behavioral interventions. These interventions are designed to educate participants, improve adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors, reduce barriers to change, and address any underlying psychosocial and psychological concerns that may be interfering with healthy weight management.
All new participants at Structure House will receive two personal training sessions, a complete battery of assessments, including labs, physical, nutritional, psychological, and fitness evaluations, a one-on-one clinical meeting with a therapist, and a one-on-one meeting with a nutrition therapist. All assessments will be completed before and after the four-week program in order to measure the client’s progress. In addition to these services, each participant will have the opportunity engage in the following treatment methods, as will be indicated by each person’s personalized schedule:
Medication management: Psychiatrist appointments are scheduled on an as-needed basis, up to once a week, for any medication needs that may exist. Additionally, two registered nurses are available to help manage all medications. For any additional medical needs, Structure House refers out to the nearby community hospital.
Individual therapy: At Structure House, each new participant receives a 60 minute psychological intake session and a 50 minute exit session, while all returning clients receive a 25 minute session. All additional individual sessions are optional and occur on an as-needed basis. Each individual session is conducted by a licensed clinical psychologist or a licensed clinical social worker.
Family therapy: Family therapy sessions are held on an as-needed, requested basis, which is collaboratively determined by the client and his or her therapist. Family sessions are conducted by the same therapy staff that conducts individual therapy sessions.
Group therapy: The group therapy sessions offered at Structure House consist of two, 50 minute support groups per week and several 50 minute psychoeducational groups/classes each week. Support groups are interpersonal and interactive and facilitated by a therapist. Psychoeducational group topics include, but are not limited to: relaxation, stress management, trigger awareness, mindful eating, self-monitoring, relapse and recovery, support at home, and lifestyle change. Specialty topics include body-image, self-esteem, motivation, self-compassion, addictive behavior, and healthy relationships.
Experiential therapy: At Structure House, we offer a number of experiential therapies that are designed to help our participants reconnect with their bodies, challenge negative beliefs or expectations regarding exercise, and learn to modify exercise routines to meet their current needs and limitations. All experiential therapies and physical activities occur on a daily basis and may include:
- Experiential meals
- Restaurant and supermarket outings
- Mindful meditation
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Role play
- Visualization and relaxation
- Physical activity (such as Pilates, water fitness, Zumba, guided walks, water kickboxing, stretching, yoga, etc.)
- Additional personal training sessions (for an additional cost)
- Massage (for an additional cost)
Additional services offered: In addition to our core residential program, some of our participants choose to engage in a specialized track, which uses the latest scientific approaches to target additional health concerns. These additional specialized programs include:
- Binge-eating program: Participants who choose to engage in this program will receive additional group and individual sessions designed to specifically address the psychological, emotional, social, and behavioral factors that contribute to binge-eating and emotional eating.
- Diabetes program: This program provides state-of-the-art treatment and education for safe and effective diabetes care.
- Smoking cessation program: This program is for those who want assistance in order to quit smoking.
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
Participants who have completed our four-week core weight loss program will have a number of options for continuing care. Structure House provides therapy via phone or the Internet for participants on an as-needed basis, which can include weekly sessions if desired. Some participants decide that they need more time at our treatment center and choose to commit to longer-term stays. These extended stay participants can use the program on a service-to-service basis. Additionally, some of our former participants choose to live off-campus in the community but still engage in group or individual sessions. These individuals, who are known as our Triangle Club Members, may also use our center for exercise, meals, and classes. Finally, for anyone who wishes to return to Structure House for the core program after returning home for a period of time, we offer our Grad Program.
Our intensive program is designed to help each person who comes to us meet his or her weight loss goals and learn everything needed to continue to lose weight at home.