Compulsive Eating Disorder

Compulsive Eating Disorder is a serious health concern in the United States. Compulsive overeating is also sometimes referred to as “food addiction” and is characterized by an unhealthy obsessive-compulsive relationship to food. Compulsive overeaters experience a “high” when consuming large amounts of food, but afterwards they feel shameful, guilty and depressed. Compulsive overeating leads to many health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Common Symptoms of Compulsive Eating Disorder:

  • Uncontrollable binge eating, even when not hungry
  • Eating very quickly
  • Feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment
  • Worry and preoccupation about weight
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Awareness that behavior is abnormal
  • Weight fluctuation and unsuccessful dieting
  • Eating in private
  • Low self-esteem
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about food

Causes of Compulsive Eating Disorder

While eating disorders don’t necessarily have a precise cause, there is almost always a huge psychological and emotional component to them. Because compulsive overeaters have a relationship with food in which they spend time thinking about it and desiring it, Compulsive Eating Disorder is different from Binge Eating Disorder. Compulsive overeaters use food as a way to fill an emotional void, or to cope with stress and other problems without having to actually “deal” with them. To compulsive overeaters, food is similar to a drug because it helps ease their mind. Unfortunately, it can spiral out of control very quickly.

Treatment for Compulsive Eating Disorder

Like many other addictions, there are 12-Step programs such as Overeaters Anonymous to help overcome compulsive eating disorder. Another is called the Rader Program. It is also always a good idea to seek professional help from a therapist, nutritionist and even a fitness expert. If the overeating is related to another issue like depression, a therapist can also help you overcome that. Sometimes medication is a possible form of treatment, but it is best in conjunction with regular psychological help.

What Should You Do?

If you or someone you know is suffering from Compulsive Eating Disorder, it’s extremely important to seek help. Complications from this disorder can lead to serious health risks and death. Not to mention, living a life feeling guilty and dependent on an unhealthy food cycle is no way to live. The best thing to do is to contact a local therapist who can help you through a series of treatment options. Remember, you can find an Overeaters Anonymous and other support groups in your area by simply looking online. Take a courageous step out of the embarrassment you may feel as soon as possible to create a healthy future for yourself.

Links and Resources for Further Reading

  • University of Pennsylvania Office of Health Education

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