Compulsive eating is a problem that affects many people. However, the condition often goes unnoticed. When people observe an overweight or obese person, it is easy to conclude that this person suffers from an overeating problem. On the other hand, skinny or moderate weight individuals may also suffer from an overeating disorder. Because of a fast metabolism, these persons are likely able to burn the extra fat and calories at a rapid speed. Eating disorders are commonly linked with conditions such as bulimia and anorexia, in which sufferers attempt to keep food out of their bodies. Yet, compulsive eating is also a dangerous eating disorder.
What is Compulsive Eating?
Persons suffering from compulsive eating have uncontrollable eating habits, which generally consist of unnaturally consuming large portions of food. Consumption can be compared to binge eating. Unlike bulimics, persons with a compulsive eating problem do not vomit after meals – at least not voluntary. Nonetheless, they may experience feelings of shame or guilt, which are also common to persons suffering from bulimia.
The majority of people suffering from compulsive eating are overweight by at least 10 pounds. On the flip side, not all obese people have a compulsive eating problem.
Recognizing Compulsive Eating Problems
A good number of people afflicted with a compulsive eating problem are unaware of their state. Likewise, family and friends may not recognize the problem. Much talk about eating disorders surrounds starving one’s self in order to achieve an ideal body image. For this matter, few people are aware of problems associated with overeating, and many have never heard of compulsive eating disorder. Yet, this is a real problem, and treatment is critical. Typical signs of a compulsive eater may include:
• Binge Eating
• Involuntary Vomiting
• Frequent Bowel Movements
• Depression and Irritability
• Irregular Periods
• Abdominal Bloating
• Dental Problems
Physical Dangers Associated with Compulsive Eating
Like other eating disorders, compulsive eating can cause serious long-term health problems if left untreated. Potential health risks may include:
• High Blood Pressure
• Certain Cancers
• Chronic Fatigue
What Causes Compulsive Eating Disorder?
Various factors contribute to developing a compulsive eating disorder. On the other hand, pinpointing the exact cause is challenging. Often times, compulsive eating has many root causes. However, there is one common thread with this particular eating disorder. Sufferers typically draw comfort from food, and use food as a means of coping with other underlying issues. A preoccupation with food leads sufferers to forget everyday problems. In essence, overeating blocks any type of negative emotion such as loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, and so forth. Alas, the euphoric mindset is temporary. Overeating commonly results in physical discomfort. Meanwhile, the compulsive eater goes through feelings of humiliation and embarrassment.
Patterns of compulsive eating can begin at any age. On average, this sort of eating habit starts in early childhood, and gradually intensifies during the teenage and young adult years. Young children may rely on food to calm upset emotions. Unknowingly, some parents contribute to the problem by pacifying toddlers with unnecessary bottles, and using candy to calm a tantrum. Little by little, children ascribe food with calmness, and fail to discover healthy ways to soothe hurt feelings.
How to Stop Compulsive Eating?
Compulsive eaters are capable of making a full recovery. The process is gradual, and often involves sessions with a psychologist and nutritionist. Through counseling, sufferers are able to isolate the root of overeating, and learn healthy ways to cope with negative feelings. A nutritionist is effective with helping compulsive eaters adopt healthy eating habits. Moreover, support groups such as Overeaters Anonymous are extremely helpful. This way, compulsive eaters can meet other people suffering from the same condition.