What exactly is a binge eating disorder? Does it have anything to do with willpower? How can self-compassion help you? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks with Dr. Kari Anderson about binge eating disorders.


Dr. Kari Anderson has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders for the last 30 years. Her unique ability to create a safe, healing environment makes her, as clients often state, "someone who gets it." Co-creator of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program, Kari also co-authored the acclaimed book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating: A Mindful Eating Program for Healing Your Relationship with Food and Your Body. Her newest book; Food, Body and Love is to be released in early 2021. Find out more and connect with Dr. Anderson here.


  • What is Binge Eating Disorder?
  • “It doesn’t have anything to do with willpower”
  • Diets do not treat binge eating disorder
  • You do not need to live with the shame

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

When people move through extreme stages of binge eating and starving themselves, they may be classified as having a binge eating disorder. This may be kept up during younger years, but when a person’s metabolism starts to slow, they experience ‘diet fatigue’ and the binge cycles are much longer than the restrictive cycles. Therefore, weight and lifestyle issues start leading to health issues.
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder that there is. It occurs more than anorexia and bulimia combined … some might call it a food addiction or compulsive overeating. (Dr. Kari Anderson)
There is a compulsion to eat large amounts of food without control. The food is not necessarily focused on after the first few minutes, eating with a binge eating disorder is almost a dissociative mechanism. Extreme self-loathing and weight-bias are characteristics of binge eating disorder because people feel themselves to be ‘failed dieters’.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with willpower”

Binge eating disorder is a bio-psychosocial disorder and it can develop from a multitude of reasons, some being to do with dopamine levels and your ability to regulate your nervous state. There are so many aspects to this, especially within a culture that is food-phobic while food-obsessed which creates a perfect storm. Your brain is driven to eat high calorie, high salt, and high-fat foods due to our predisposed biology. Unfortunately, the food industry has caught up and buys into our deep-seated needs for profit. It is not because you are weak or have no willpower, it is because you need more education on how to sustain your body within a food-obsessed and craving-driven culture.

Diets do not treat binge eating disorder

Dieting is the very thing that triggers binge eating, as has been discovered after some neuro-psychiatric research.
We know that it is actually the restrictive process that sets the brain up for the counter reaction of gorging and binging, so it’s really a brain mechanism. We have to be very careful, as part of treatment for binge eating disorder, not to prescribe the very thing that is causing it. (Dr. Kari Anderson)
Therefore, abstinence is not a good treatment method, because eventually, they will fall through. It is a brain and gut issue and so treatment needs to be a mind-body intervention. The focus of treatment and healing is not placed solely on losing weight, it is about healing the mind and body connection. If some weight is lost, that is fine, however, if the attention is placed on weight-loss instead of treating the body and the mind’s relationship to food, true healing is never completed.

You do not need to live with the shame

If you suffer from binge eating disorder, the best way to break the cycle of shame and eating and shaming yourself again is to practice self-compassion. Know that there is a reason why you do what you do and that it can be treated because it does not say anything about your character or willpower. Click here for a free journal activity to help with your relationship with troublesome foods.

Books mentioned in this episode



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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