What Is Compulsive Overeating?

Compulsive overeating is characterized by an obsessive/compulsive relationship to food.

An individual suffering from compulsive overeating disorder engages in frequent episodes of uncontrolled eating, or binge eating, during which they may feel frenzied or out of control, often consuming food past the point of being comfortably full. Binging in this way is generally followed by feelings of guilt and depression. Unlike individuals with bulimia, compulsive over-eaters do not attempt to compensate for their binging with purging behaviors such as fasting, laxative use or vomiting.

Compulsive over-eaters will typically eat when they are not hungry. Their obsession is demonstrated in that they spend excessive amounts of time and thought devoted to food, and secretly plan or fantasize about eating alone. Compulsive overeating usually leads to weight gain and obesity, but not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive over-eater. While compulsive over-eaters tend to be overweight or obese, persons of normal or average weight can also be affected. In addition to binge eating, compulsive over-eaters can also engage in grazing behavior, during which they return to pick at food throughout the day. These things result in a large overall number of calories consumed even if the quantities eaten at any one time may be small.

When a compulsive eater overeats primarily through binging, he or she can be said to have binge eating disorder.

Primary Symptoms of Compulsive Overeating

  • There are several behavioral indicators of compulsive overeating including eating when not hungry and eating in secret.
  • Feeling ashamed or disgusted by ones eating behavior.
  • Feeling out of control over eating and or thinking about food.
  • Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time.

Common Signs of Compulsive Overeating

  • Binge eating, or eating uncontrollably even when not physically hungry
  • Feelings of guilt due to overeating
  • History of weight fluctuations
  • Preoccupation with body weight
  • Eating much more rapidly than what is considered normal
  • Eating alone due to shame and embarrassment
  • Rapid weight gain or sudden onset of obesity
  • Awareness that eating patterns are abnormal
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Withdrawal from activities because of embarrassment about weight
  • Significantly decreased mobility due to weight gain
  • Eating little in public, but maintaining a high body weight
  • History of many different unsuccessful diets
  • Very low self esteem and feeling need to eat greater and greater amounts.

Long-term Adverse Health Effects of Compulsive Overeating

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Major depression
  • Kidney disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Bone deterioration
  • Stroke

Treating Compulsive Overeating

As with any addiction, there is compulsiveness despite negative consequences, causing a continual deterioration of health ultimately leading to death. Individuals suffering from an eating disorder receive the following:

  • History and physical by a trained professional physician
  • Eight week three hour three days a week group counseling
  • Intravenous delivery of vital nutrients necessary for normal body function and a healthy recovery
  • Weekly private session with a therapist and/or physician
  • Dietary consultations and meal planning
  • Nutritional protocols to restore vitamins, amino acids, and minerals necessary for a healthy body
  • Therapeutic modalities specifically treating eating disorders
  • Psycho-education for understanding cause/effect management and treatment

Compulsive Overeating often manifests from feelings of having little or no control over an individual’s life. These behaviors will often cause the individual to alter bad feelings with good, giving them a feeling of empowerment. This is short lived and complicated, and leads to further feelings of shame and despair. This furthers the destructive pattern of behavior and may lead to or include the use of alcohol and/or other drugs.

We recognize it is the underlying causes that need to be addressed in order to correct the resulting behavior. We do so in a caring, uplifting, and understanding way which serves to empower individuals not only with their disorder but also with other areas of their life.

Note: Solutions Recovery treats all primary alcohol and drug addictive disorders. We also treat issues related to coexisting secondary disorders, including but not limited to, anxiety, an Eating Disorder, eating, gambling, impulse control, sexual and trauma issues.