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U of C researcher investigates potential treatment for binge eating

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A researcher at the U of C is looking at how to treat binge eating. Characterized as eating a large amount of food in a short time, the issue has not garnered as much attention as anorexia or bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre.

Unlike bulimia, where food is purged from the body after intake, binge eating is not followed by vomiting or laxatives. Binge eating disorder is also more common in men than other eating disorders.

Symptoms of binge eating may include feeling guilty, disgusted or depressed after overeating. The ensuing stress is only relieved by binging.

University of Calgary clinical psychology PhD candidate Phil Masson is investigating how self help therapy can assist those suffering from the disorder.

"Self help is a therapy that is much more available to people," said Masson. "Whether a person lives far from a place where someone can treat them for binge eating or whether they just don't have the resources to pay for that treatment, self help is a viable, alternative option."

The type of self help treatment Masson is looking at is an adaptation of a manual currently used by many individual and group counsellors.

"It is mimicking what you would get in a therapy session," Masson explained.

Masson said there is a wide range of what is considered self help, but he is focusing on a specific sub-section.

"Self help that has been written by and developed by counsellors who are doing a lot of the treatment research in psychotherapy," said Masson.

Self help books focus on skill-building and managing emotions and stress.

"What we are teaching is different, more healthy coping techniques," said Masson. "Something as simple as debriefing to others or things such as mindfulness and being more present is what is taught."

Masson said many people may experience eating an excessive amount of food at some time, but what makes binge eating a disorder are regular and uncontrollable eating habits.

"It is not about being at a typical party and eating a bunch of food, but it is about eating a lot of food and wanting to stop and not being able to stop," said Masson.

If you are experiencing unhealthy eating habits visit University Health Services.

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