What is compulsive overeating?
Do you often eat when you are not hungry?
Let’s say you’ve just finished eating dinner. You feel full. You know you don’t need any more food.
Yet, somehow, you feel compelled to keep eating. It could be a second helping, it could be going to the pantry and grabbing a bag of Doritos.
Even though you are putting on weight or suffering from indigestion, you ignore the signals your body’s telling you.
And trust me, if you paid attention, you would notice your body screaming:
Stop, no more. I don’t need this!
This behaviour is called compulsive overeating. And it’s a serious problem, especially when it’s a regular occurrence.
In some cases, compulsive overeating only occurs around meal times. Once you start, you can’t stop.
However, more commonly, compulsive eaters will consume food continuously across the day – never giving themselves a chance to get hungry.
Unlike binge eating disorder, overeating can occur in public. You don’t hide it. In some cases, overeating is considered socially acceptable.
If untreated, compulsive overeating can lead to weight gain, associated health issues and low self-esteem.
That’s why compulsive overeating should be treated as soon as possible – your future self will thank you.
At the Happy Body Clinic, we can help you successfully overcome compulsive overeating once and for good.
As always, too much of a good thing is bad for you. And over eating is no exception.
You see, overloading your body with too much food can take a heavy toll on your body and mind.
Here are some of the health issues our clients have faced who suffer from compulsive overeating:
Physical Health Issues
Long-term compulsive overeating can lead to a variety of physical health issues, all of which can dramatically decrease your quality of life.
- Obesity – All that food has to go somewhere. Compulsive overeaters are at serious risk of becoming overweight.
- Digestive Issues – Overloading your stomach with food can lead to acid reflux, cramping and heartburn. In serious cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or even rupture your stomach.
- High Blood Pressure – Compulsive overeating can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at greater risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Type 2 Diabetes – If you compulsively overeat, you are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes, a lifelong disease.
- Feeling physically tired – It’s hard to be active with all that food in your belly. After a big eating session you’ll feel overwhelmed and sluggish.
Mental Health Issues
While the mental issues cannot be seen, they can have a worse impact on your everyday life than the physical issues.
- Helplessness – The feeling that no matter what you do, you won’t overcome this compulsive overeating.
- Obsession – An unhealthy fixation with eating, food or your body image.
- Embarrassment – Oversensitivity to comments from others about food, dieting, exercising or body image.
- Shame – Feelings of guilt and self-hatred, especially after eating too much food.
- Distress – Experiencing, irritability, depression or anxiety, especially after eating too much food.
Obviously, you don’t want any of these health problems, right? In a healthy person, just the risk of these medical issues would stop someone binge eating for good.
But compulsive overeating is a mental health issue – even knowing the worst possible outcome, you cannot stop this impulsive behavior.
That is why you need professional help, to return to a balanced mental state before compulsive overeating causes you further health problems.
In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult for you to identify that you are compulsively overeating.
I mean, if you could do that, you would be able to stop yourself, right?
But compulsive eating is actually very easy to diagnose…
You see, your body requires a certain amount of energy and nutrients each day. Once this limit is met, your body will signal that it’s had enough – it’s time to stop.
Do you regularly pass these limits and ignore your body’s stop signals?
If you answered yes, then it’s likely you are a compulsive overeater.
It’s fine to eat and enjoy food. That’s not the issue. It’s when you are eating to excess that problems occur – especially if you are using food as a coping mechanism.
You see, compulsive overeaters eat for different reasons, including:
Comfort, pleasure or satisfaction – Food brings you comfort, and you need that right now.
Boredom – There’s nothing else to do, might as well eat.
Love of the taste of food – I don’t want to wait until the next meal time to experience this thing that brings me so much joy.
Drown out feelings of stress, anxiety or depression – It’s hard to focus on your feelings if you are distracted, and food is a great distraction for you
Lifestyle – Some European cultures hold over eating in high regard. You may even be praised for loading up a second helping.
Hunger from lowering intake – Your body gets used to the amount you eat. When you eat less, you can have hunger withdrawals, causing you to overeat to compensate.
Force of habit – Once you are in a routine of overeating, it’s difficult to stop. Overeating becomes a bad habit.
Stop for a second. Think about the last few times you overate.
Was it because you were hungry? Or was it something else?
If it was something else, then you may be a compulsive overeater.
Hold up. Before you seek treatment, you should know that compulsive overeating is often confused with other eating issues…
Food Addiction: Using food the same way you would alcohol or cigarettes. You rely on certain types of foods, such as Chocolate, to get you through your day. When eating these foods, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy
Binge Eating: Binge Eating Disorder is also a psychological illness. It’s where you frequently eat large amounts of food in private, quickly and in a single sitting – even when you are not hungry.
Then there are more serious eating disorders…
If you compensate for your overeating by forcing yourself to vomit, over exercise, skip meals or take laxatives, then it‘s possible you have Anorexia or Bulemia.
To make things even more confusing, you can have more than one eating disorder at a time (we can help you overcome any eating disorder!).
Fortunately, there is a simple test you can take to determine if you have an eating disorder, and which one. All you have to do is take a test…
The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q). This test accompanies a medical examination (called the EDE) that will be administered by your doctor, who will diagnose your eating disorder and prescribe treatment.
You can also take this test yourself online for free, however it will only reveal if you potentially have an eating disorder. It won’t provide a diagnosis or further details – you need to see your Doctor for that.
If your Doctor determines that you do have an eating disorder, you may be eligible for medicare funded treatment under one of two different plans:
1. Eating Disorder Management Plan (EDMP) – allows eligible clients with an eating disorder to access medicare rebates for up to 40 sessions of Psychological under an eating disorder psychological treatment plan (EDPT.)
2. Medical Health Care Plan (MHP) – provides up to 20 individual and 20 group sessions of Psychology therapy per year.
Please discuss these options with your doctor. Happy Body Clinic is able to provide treatment under both of these plans with a referral from your doctor.