What is compulsive overeating?

While no one is sure what causes compulsive eating, we do know that many compulsive eaters report feeling depressed. Another common thread is that many binge eaters also report having been sexually abused. While these issues are common to most, everyone reports that they tend to binge over feelings of sadness, anger, resentment, boredom, anxiety or joy. Regardless of why a person overeats, there are great risks in doing so.

Below are a few questions to help you determine whether you are binge eating or eating compulsively:

  • Do you eat until you are so full you are uncomfortable?
  • Do you eat large amounts of food, even when you are not hungry?
  • Do you feel your eating is out of control?
  • Do you eat alone because you are embarrassed about the amount of food you eat?
  • Do you eat what most people believe is a large amount of food?
  • Do you eat much more quickly during binging?
  • Do you feel depressed, disgusted or guilty after overeating?

If you’ve answered, ‘yes’ to any of these questions you may have a compulsive eating problem.

People who give in to compulsive eating tend to experience:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • gall-bladder disease
  • bone and joint deterioration

Dieting as treatment

Most people have tried diets and have lost weight only to gain it – and more – back again. This process might happen several times in a person’s life, so it has become referred to as ‘yo-yo dieting’. Rather than dieting, a healthy eating plan is recommended, along with therapy and exercise. Most healthy eating plans lean toward reducing or eliminating sugar and reducing carbohydrates. The key is moderation. When a sufferer reaches a point when the weight ‘number’ does not determine their self-worth, quality recovery is not far away.

How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A trained clinical psychologist can effectively perform a professional assessment, which will identify whether you have any problem areas, and will recommend the treatment most appropriate for you if necessary.

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