SAINT LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Tempting meals are often a part of holiday celebrations and that can be challenging for people living with binge eating disorder.

"It involves a loss of control of food," says Melrose Center clinical psychologist Aaron Meyer. "A person will not be able to manage how much they are taking in; a person will not be able to stop when they feel they should."

Binge eating disorder is a physical and physiological illness. People will skip meals or go long periods without eating, eat rapidly or in secret, and often have an emotional response - even after a normal size meal.

"They will feel very bad about what occurred. They might be angry with themselves or a depression or sadness might set in," Meyer says. 

Meyer believes it's crucial to have someone to share the struggles with. 

"Anyone that you feel will appreciate what you are going through and just support you as best they can," he says. 

Another sign of binge eating disorder is an anxiousness around social situations involving food. Going against that wisdom, Meyer says, the holidays, which bring food and people together, often help people who binge eat.

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"If we are eating around others, we have the opportunity to eat in a similar way to people around us and it provides us an amount of accountability," Meyer says. 

Overeating once or twice during the holiday does not mean you have a problem, but if it's a continuing pattern it might be a good time to reach out.

Melrose Center has a 17-week program where a therapist and dietitian take a group of three to ten people through the healing process.

"Knowing that others go through it can help normalize or take a more understanding view of what you are going through," Meyer says. 

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If you're wondering if a problem may exist, a good first step is taking one of the online self-assessments Melrose Center offers.