What is compulsive overeating?
Compulsive overeating is an umbrella term used to describe maladaptive loss-of-control eating behaviors, including but not limited to:
- Night eating
- Eating past satiety (feeling full)
- Impulsive eating
- Compulsive food behaviors like hiding food, food obtaining and eating food out of the garbage.
There are many reasons behind loss-of-control eating behaviors — some individuals eat out of boredom, while eating is a mindless habit for others.
Compulsive overeating can point to underlying issues
For many individuals, however, compulsive overeating is a coping mechanism for avoiding underlying emotional issues, including trauma, depression and anxiety. Compulsive overeating commonly results in weight gain, and is often accompanied by obesity, metabolic syndrome, other weight-related medical concerns and increasingly negative body image.
Those struggling with overeating who are of normal and higher weight don’t often see themselves as having an eating disorder. They tend to minimize maladaptive overeating and instead attribute their failed weight loss and food issues to moral failing (“I am a bad dieter” or “I have no willpower”). Once they learn about the diagnostic criteria for various overeating disorders, they often recognize behaviors that have been evident since childhood.
Compulsive eating can be a symptom of bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder, or it can occur independently of another eating disorder diagnosis. However, overeating extends beyond eating too much at a holiday meal or your favorite restaurant, and the solution is far more complex than simply “eating less” or “exercising more” to burn off the calories ingested.
How to stop overeating
If you are struggling with any of these overeating traits, it does not mean you are lacking in self-control. You are suffering from a mental illness that requires specialized therapeutic care. There is no shame in having an eating disorder and there is no shame in seeking professional help.
At Eating Recovery Center, we offer facilities dedicated to treating compulsive overeating. Please call us at 877-825-8584 so we can help you begin the healing process.
Binge eating expert Dr. Julie Friedman discusses treatment for compulsive eating in this helpful video:
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Binge Eating Treatment & Recovery Program