BINGE CONTROL: A Compact Recovery Guide and Recent Happenings at the FDA

by Cynthia Bulik, PhD

BINGE CONTROL: A Compact Recovery Guide and Recent Happenings at the FDA


Author and acclaimed ED researcher Dr. Cynthia Bulik shares a peek into her new book Binge Control with the readers of!  Binge Control is available for purchase online at

It’s been six years since I wrote Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop and the state of science and treatment of binge eating disorder (BED) has moved ahead since that time in interesting ways. I decided the time was right to update the book. Most of Crave is still highly relevant to individuals with BED, but with the disorder now having its rightful home in the DSM-5 and having an FDA approved medication for its treatment, there were more things to say.

BINGE CONTROL: A Compact Recovery Guide is truly compact. My goal was to create an easily digestible piece that hits the critical high points about who develops BED, what it is, what causes it, and psychological and medical treatments. I added a section on weight stigma, because regardless of the size of individuals with BED whom I have treated or interviewed, weight stigma always comes into the picture. We have to keep the conversation about weight stigma going by increasing awareness and sensitivity and calling people out who stigmatize or discriminate against people on the basis of their weight.

With reference to that new FDA approved treatment, a lot of people are asking me what I think about Vyvanse being only the second medication that gained FDA approval for the treatment of any eating disorder (fluoxetine for bulimia was that first and that happened back in 1996). I will start by letting readers know that I am a consultant for Shire (the makers of the drug) and they have given me a grant to study the course and impact of BED in Sweden, so bear that in mind.

My first comment is that we have a woefully inadequate armamentarium for the treatment of eating disorders. The majority of medications that have been used or are being used are off-label. We have psychotherapies that work, but we do a terrible job at disseminating them. Sadly, pharmaceutical companies rarely take it upon themselves to put big advertising and dissemination budgets into cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)! In large swaths of the world it is downright impossible to find CBT for BED or for that matter any evidence-based or evidence-informed treatment for any eating disorder. Of course, we have to keep trying to improve dissemination. But, everyone doesn’t benefit from CBT. We have not done enough of the follow-on research to determine how best to treat those individuals for whom CBT does not bring the sought after relief from binge eating. We need several treatment options to choose from and a new medication increases the range of available options for people with BED.

I also do have concerns. Vyvanse is an amphetamine and that needs to be respected and monitored by those who prescribe it and those who take it. We also do not know the long-term outcome of treatment with Vyvanse. My hope is that it will help jump start people who are trapped in an entrenched binge cycle enough to allow them to benefit from CBT or other forms of psychotherapy. Ultimately, it is critical to give people the tools to control the urge to binge in the long term.

So, back to the handbook, the point of BINGE CONTROL is to underscore that it is possible to get back IN CONTROL of your binge eating. BED is treatable; everyone needs to find the treatment, combination of treatments, or sequence of treatments that works for them.

You can find Binge Control on Amazon here.

2014-06-26 Cynthia Bulik, Professor, gästprofessor KI Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., FAED, is the Founding Director of the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and Professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

A clinical psychologist, Dr. Bulik has been conducting research and treating individuals with eating disorders since 1982. She received her BA from the University of Notre Dame and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed internships and post-doctoral fellowships at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, PA and developed treatment services for eating disorders in New Zealand and the United States. Her research includes treatment, laboratory, epidemiological, twin and molecular genetic studies of eating disorders and body weight regulation. She has active research collaborations in over twenty countries around the world. She has published over 490 papers and chapters on eating disorders and is author of seven books including Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop, The Woman in the Mirror, and Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery.

She is a recipient of numerous awards including the Eating Disorders Coalition Research Award, the Academy for Eating Disorders Leadership Award for Research, the Price Family National Eating Disorders Association Research Award, IAEDP Honorary Certified Eating Disorders Specialist Award, and the Academy for Eating Disorders Meehan/Hartley Award for Advocacy.

Dr. Bulik is past president of the Academy for Eating Disorders, past Vice-President of the Eating Disorders Coalition, past Associate Editor of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Binge Eating Disorder Association, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Global Foundation for Eating Disorders.

She is passionate about translating science for the public. Her appearances include the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN Morning, Katie, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Rachael Ray. She has been featured in many publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, and the US News and World Report. Dr. Bulik holds the first endowed professorship in eating disorders in the United States.

Her work life is enriched by being happily married, the mother of three children, a gold medalist in ice dancing, and an avid ballroom dancer. Read more at

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