This Page was last reviewed and changed on December 19th, 2022
Most of us are guilty of eating a little too much food and over-indulging in sugary snacks. But what is the difference between an occasional binge and compulsive overeating? Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two, with compulsive overeaters often deemed as ‘just too greedy’, and little regard is given to this mental health disorder which affects millions of people yearly.
According to recent statistics, 63% of adults in the UK are reported as overweight, and half of these are living with obesity. Unfortunately, the obesity crisis is showing no signs of slowing down, with experts predicting that more than 42 million adults will suffer from this condition by 2040.
Primrose Lodge understands the delicate nature of obesity and food addiction and can help you navigate the ins and outs of this disorder if your food habits are getting out of control.
Am I a compulsive overeater?
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you suffer from a compulsive overeating disorder – it does not make you weak, nor does it mean you are greedy or have no willpower. It means that you have a serious addiction that requires treatment. It is, therefore, vital to understand the signs of compulsive overeating to get the help you need.
Take a moment to answer the following questions:
- Do you eat larger portions than necessary, even when you’re not hungry?
- Have you ever felt guilty, shameful or embarrassed after eating food?
- Do you use food as a way to cope with emotional problems or stress?
- Do you feel like you’re unable to stop eating, even when faced with an uncomfortable or full feeling?
- Do you eat food in secret or hide food from other people?
- Do you spend a lot of your time thinking about food?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be suffering from compulsive overeating. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, compulsive overeating is largely unknown when it comes to eating disorders.
Amy, a body positivity blogger who someone who suffers from this condition, shares her experience:
“I joked a lot in college and said I was a bulimic who didn’t purge. I had no idea that an eating disorder like that existed.”
So many people suffer in silence – but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you believe you have a compulsive overeating disorder, contact Primrose Lodge today.
Why do I compulsively overeat?
Have you ever experienced the never ending spiral of eating because you feel guilty and feeling guilty because you eat? It is common to feel shameful, guilty or secretive about your compulsive overeating – you may ask yourself the question, “why do I keep doing this?” time and time again.
If so, you are not alone. For many people, compulsive overeating starts with negative emotions – for example, a young person may develop low self-worth after being bullied and, as a result, turns to food for comfort.
After some time, this person learns that food soothes their unpleasant feelings, and the cycle continues; thus, an eating disorder slowly begins to form.
Many routes can lead to a compulsive overeating disorder. These may include:
- Experiencing abuse or trauma
- Previous restrictions with dieting
- Having a family history of eating disorders
- Suffering from mental health issues, including depression and anxiety
- Suffering from low self-esteem
Compulsive overeating is a highly complex condition, often caused by a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors. Therefore, it should never be brushed away or met with the objectionable response heard by so many compulsive eating sufferers, “Why don’t you just stop eating?”.
What are the negative impacts of compulsive overeating?
The majority of us know about the negative impacts compulsive overeating can have on health – an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease all pose a danger as a result of eating too much. Compulsive overeating can affect your fertility and lead to chronic pain due to extra weight on your joints.
However, it is not only your physical health that suffers. Compulsive overeating can have a devastating effect on your mental well-being. Those who suffer from this condition often isolate themselves from friends and family, imprisoned by their secrecy around food and the shame they feel around eating. This can put an immense strain on relationships.
It is likely that your mental health will deteriorate as your compulsive overeating takes hold. A lack of energy, mood swings, an alteration in sleeping patterns and a deep feeling of depression can take over. You may feel worthless or guilty for not being able to control your eating habits, leading to further anxiety, low self-esteem, and further exacerbating your compulsions.
Is there treatment for compulsive overeating?
Compulsive overeating is a complex and serious mental health disorder – it requires professional help, and rehab is often necessary. Recovery is certainly possible, but it can take time due to the complexities of changing your attitude towards food.
Food addiction treatment typically involves psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). These particular therapies can help you address the underlying causes of your disorder and challenge any destructive patterns of thinking and behaviours.
Primrose Lodge can teach you how to manage negative emotions in healthier ways. Our rehab therapies also include a range of holistic treatment such as yoga, meditation and art therapy, all designed to improve your overall well-being and reduce stress levels. This person-centred approach has proven to be an effective treatment for eating disorders such as compulsive overeating.
With eating disorder treatment, you will work on building a healthy relationship with food. As well as this, you will focus on overcoming any co-occurring mental health issues that may push you towards compulsively eating.
If you’re suffering from compulsive overeating, or know somebody who is, rest assured that help is available and recovery is possible. Primrose Lodge provides professional and effective treatment and can help you to:
- Enjoy food without feelings of shame or guilt
- Build your confidence and self-esteem
- Improve both your mental and physical health
- Better your relationships with others
You can contact our compassionate team today for additional information and advice about food addiction or any other behavioural dependencies.