Compulsive eating is an eating disorder that unlike anorexia and bulimia, affects both sexes in high proportion.
It goes by several other names such as compulsive overeating and food addiction and is characterized by an individual who has an obsessive relationship with food. Sufferers tend to be overweight as a result of their uncontrollable eating habits.
These individuals use food as a way to deal with stress, emotional turmoil and everyday issues. Similar in nature to the way an addict will abuse drugs or alcohol to block out negative emotions they experience, a compulsive eater will find that resolve in food. Unlike those people who suffer from anorexia, those afflicted with compulsive eating recognize that their eating habits are not normal and they do in fact have a problem, they just don’t know what to do about it.
Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive Eating
- Binge Eating
- Fear of not being able to stop eating
- Isolation and fear of eating around others
- Hiding food
- Secretive eating patterns
- Going on many different diets
- Directly relating their self worth to their weight
- Withdrawing from activities because of embarrassment about weight
- Feeling tormented by their eating habits
- Weight becoming the central focus of their life
Individuals who suffer from compulsive eating often aren’t taken seriously about their condition which is as harmful and dangerous as the more known eating disorders. They are dismissed simply as being obese and lazy and told to go on a diet. Diets however do nothing to help those afflicted with compulsive eating because these people have a psychological disorder that is causing them to behave this way with food.
They are desperately attempting to stifle their stresses and troubles with food, so the average diet simply cannot help. What an individual needs to recover from compulsive eating is specialized treatment.
A quality eating disorder treatment facility will use cognitive behavioral therapy to explore the underlying issues that are causing the behavior in the first place. They’ll also incorporate family therapy so the family can heal as a whole and of course nutritional education and counseling is a must to encourage healthier eating habits after the relationship with food becomes less distorted.
These facilities must also screen every individual suffering from compulsive eating for co-occurring substance abuse issues as these two illnesses often go hand in hand. Compulsive eaters will often abuse substances like cocaine and heroin to try and lose weight and suppress their appetite. They’ll also abuse alcohol and other substances as a coping mechanism to try and feel better about their poor body image and self worth. These kinds of substance abuse can lead to subsequent addiction very quickly.
Compulsive eating is a serious mental illness that needs to be treated as such before irreversible physical damage is done to the sufferer’s body. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a leading treatment center in Florida for women who suffer from the co-occurring illnesses of addiction and eating disorders.
Destination Hope prides itself on providing the nurturing and safe environment women need to feel comfortable letting their guard down in treatment. That comfort level is the reason our therapists have been able to help so many women move towards recovery.
We also have a nutritionist on staff to help educate our women on proper nutrition and healthier eating habits. If there’s a woman in your life who could benefit from the experts at Destination Hope, please don’t hesitate to call us day or night. Let us help you feel whole again.