By Nadia Murdock
Coping with an eating disorder is something that many people deal with in secrecy not knowing where to turn for help. Brad Lamm, Founder of Breathe Life Healing Center and the Breakfree treatment team, took a moment to discuss an addiction that is often overlooked, that is the addiction to food. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brad discusses the root of the addiction, “With so many of the people struggling with eating disorders, it’s certainly not about the food, the diet or losing 30 pounds. It’s about making that internal shift that’ll help a person walk free from food addiction,” says Lamm.
Continue reading to learn more about Breakfree at Breathe Life Healing Center and how it’s changing the lives of their patients in a profound way.
Tell me a bit more about Breakfree, what encouraged you to create Breakfree @ Breathe?
“When I created and produced the eight-part docuseries ADDICTED TO FOOD with Oprah Winfrey, it was the culmination of years of conversations with her on food, mood and the need to feed to a point of illness. I had been passionate about working with eating disordered clients for many years, in part because it was such a part of my family’s story: four out of the six of my immediate family members had an active eating disorder for most of our lives. The challenge to help clients figure out their relationship with food creates opportunities to change many things in life including losing weight and getting healthier while in a rehab program.”
Consider this too: while there are thousands of options nationally for the anorexic, in the midst of an obesity epidemic, there were few options for help when I founded Breakfree for the overeater.
I went back to the drawing board and asked the question: in a perfect world, what combination of holistic medical, physical and spiritual approaches would best help the overeater (the bulimic, binge eater or compulsive overeater) recover? That really is what the breakfree @ breathe program encompasses. Treating the heavy client hungry for sustainable change is my sweet spot and true passion.
I had helped so many over the years, and I was able to craft an updated, insurance-friendly approach to helping the client change for good in a safe, medically supervised and clinically sound trauma-informed approach. Just two years ago insurance companies began paying for meaningful treatment for the obese client from a behavioral health program perspective. This field is new and exciting. Binge Eating Disorder was only recently added to the DSM-V, the diagnostic tool which dictates insurance coverage for patients.
How can loved ones tell if someone is suffering from a Binge Eating Disorder?
The person who struggles with Binge Eating Disorder often exhibits one or more of the following behaviors:
- Eats large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eats much more rapidly than normal
- Eats until the point of feeling uncomfortably full
- Often eats alone because of shame or embarrassment
- Has feelings of depression, disgust, or guilt after eating
- Has a history of marked weight fluctuations
One of the first ways is simply fact checking with your eyes: what do you see in the one you love; their behaviors and on their body/health. While more than 70 million Americans are overweight or obese, not all will have a Binge Eating Disorder Diagnosis.
What usually triggers Binge eating? Is this a disorder that you are born with or brought on by traumatic stress?
“Binge eating disorders seem to result from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. Triggers for binge eating can include depression, anxiety, boredom, and anger. Studies show that binge eating disorders can run in families that put unnatural emphasis on food or use food as a reward. This is not to say that it is a disorder you are ONLY born with, but it can also be a negative coping skill used to deal with stressors in life.”
Who usually suffers from BED more men or women?
“According to the National Eating Disorder Association, BED affects women slightly more than men. Estimates indicate that 60% of people struggle with BED are female and 40% are male. We see more women accessing care for BED than men 3 to 1. So these statistics show is that women seek treatment more than men for the disorder.”
What are lifestyle practices that can help recovery go smoothly for those that suffer from the disorder?
“Practice makes sustainable (never perfect); integrating new habits with food, therapy, and moving the body will assist in creating new habits reinforced by success and lead to a more successful life.”