Christine L. Palmer

I recommend and strongly support the addition of Binge Eating Disorder as a formal category of diagnosis and food addiction as a Substance Use Disorder to the DSM-5.

I am not a scientist and I am not a physician, psychologist or therapist. I am, however, a food addict who has suffered from and recovered from binge eating. (Like alcoholism, my food addiction has been arrested, but not cured.) I know firsthand how my body responds to certain substances, primarily sugar and highly refined flours. Once ingested, these “drugs” trigger behaviors (consumption of massive quantities of similar foods), thoughts (primarily of the suicidal variety) and feelings (panic, rage, despair, depression) that I do not experience when not consuming these foods.

It took a long time for me to recover, primarily due to the lack of understanding of Binge Eating Disorder and food addiction among the helping professionals I turned to, as well as to the absence of available resources, e.g. treatment centers similar to those for alcoholics and other addicts. I cannot help but believe the current epidemic of obesity (one, but only one, of the symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder and food addiction) in the United States is connected in some way to this lack of recognition for this disease.

My associations with hundreds of other food addicts, my reading of current literature reviewing the scientific evidence establishing Binge Eating Disorder and food addiction as valid clinical diagnoses, and my ongoing layperson’s interest in public policy regarding eating disorders diseases have more than convinced me that these are real conditions of the mind and body that warrant recognition and treatment. The first steps must be increased awareness and acceptance of their reality.

Thank you.

P.S. For your information, I a 57-year-old woman. I have lost and kept off approximately 80 pounds for more than 25 years by accepting my disorder as an addiction. I was lucky enough to receive eight weeks of inpatient help in this process in 1986 at Glenbeigh Hospital in Tampa, Florida. At that time, this now-defunct facility was staffed and financially supported by professionals who translated their belief in the reality of Binge Eating Disorder and food addiction into effective methods of treatment.

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