Eating Disorders

Compulsive Eating Signs

What Is Compulsive Eating?

Compulsive eating involves episodes of uncontrolled eating or binging, that feel frenzied or out of control. Eating occurs even past the point of being uncomfortably full. Unlike individuals with bulimia, compulsive over eaters do not attempt to compensate for their overeating with vomiting, laxatives, fasting, or purging. However, there may be intervals of repetitive diets. While compulsive eating may eventually result in weight gain, body weight can range from normal to severe obesity.

What Causes Compulsive Eating?

Although there is no one known exact cause of compulsive overeating, there are several likely options. Compulsive eating is a behavior used to fill a void, cope with stress, suppress uncomfortable emotions, deal with problems, or to create a state of numbness to difficult situations or feelings. Triggers can be anxiety, depression, stress, boredom or loneliness, dieting, and low self-esteem. Compulsive eating is a behavior driven by a desire to manage hidden issues rather than by feelings of hunger. The eating activity provides temporary relief, but is typically followed by further distress in the form of guilt, shame, or disgust. A perpetual cycle of eating occurs to relieve anxiety, then feeling badly for overeating, often leads to a vicious cycle of binge eating and depression.

Why Is It So Hard To Stop?

When you compulsively overeat, you may try every diet or plan to stop. At first, you may experience some weight loss success. But, in the long run diets or tightly controlled eating don't address or remedy the primary reasons for your overeating. In addition, with the hunger and restriction eventually comes a binge response. This overeating episode brings in feelings of failure and even more depression. Compulsive overeating is a coping behavior that can be overcome by learning and incorporating other behaviors that are at least as effective as eating.

Symptoms of Compulsive Overeating

This is not a complete list of signs and symptoms. Nor must a person have every symptom on the list to have compulsive eating behaviors.

* Eating normally in front of others and compulsively overeating alone.

* Binging, or eating uncontrollably

* Eating late at night or while others are asleep.

* Hiding a private stash of junk food.

* Unhappy with body weight.

* Always thinking about food.

* Eating to feel better.

* Not enjoying the food being eaten.

* Feeling out of control and unable to stop eating during binges.

* Continuing to eat even after feeling full.

* Becoming anxious while eating.

* A history of diet failures.

* Depression.

* Feels guilty and ashamed of binge eating.

* Worrying while eating.

* Eating frantically, barely chewing food.

* Hiding food.

* Eating secretly.

* Binging after a diet.

* Hunger creates a feeling of vulnerability and uneasiness.

If you recognize yourself as a compulsive eater – take heart! There is hope and there is healing. Author Thomas Moore wrote, "When the soul is neglected, it doesn't just go away, it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence and loss of meaning. I believe that people with addictive eating behaviors are unique, creative, caring and sensitive individuals who are searching for a deeper connection to their true inner spirit. Recovery occurs as you develop a sense of your own spirit, self, and body … and when you develop a belief that your emotions are valid, important, and worth noticing .

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