Sufferers of Compulsive Overeating will eat at times when they are not hungry. The behaviour may occur regularly or it may come in cycles. If you are suffering from Compulsive Overeating you are likely to be overweight and may use this weight and you eating disorder to protect yourself from emotional distress or as an excuse to avoid social situations. You may hide behind a happy, jolly façade that enables you to avoid confronting your problems.
How you might behave
- Uncontrolled or continuous eating until you are uncomfortably full.
- Eating when you are not hungry.
- Being secretive about what and how much you are eating, eating alone.
- Hoarding food.
- Hiding your emotions behind a jolly facade.
- Avoiding social interaction.
What you might feel
- Out of control and anxious around food.
- Distracted by thoughts of food and eating.
- Feelings of guilt and shame.
- Feelings of helplessness and isolation.
- Low self-esteem and confidence.
How you might be affected physically
- Increase in weight.
- Poor skin condition.
- Reduced energy and feelings of lethargy.
- Problems with blood pressure, heart disease and lack of fitness.
Effects on your mood
Eating may be used initially to help you to deal with difficult emotions such as loneliness or anxiety or to ease tension caused by pressure or stress. It may help for a short while, but gradually, feelings of guilt and shame are likely to creep in. These feelings will add to the anxiety and distress that causes you to eat compulsively pushing you into a vicious cycle.
Some sufferers of Compulsive Overeating have described using their weight and appearance to hide how they are really feeling or to protect them from emotional pain caused by specific situation or stresses. Appearance may be use as an excuse to avoid social situations that make you feel uncomfortable or anxious.
You may be confused by yours feelings around food and body image. Discussing your concerns and behaviours with a loved one or professional may be hard at first but it will help you to untangle your relationship with food and gradually build your self-esteem and confidence to live without your eating disorder.
Long- term physical effects
Many people suffering from Compulsive overeating will become over weight or obese. This can lead to problems with blood pressure and can cause heart disease and diabetes. In the majority of cases, the physical symptoms of compulsive overeating can be reduced or reversed once you are eating a healthy, balanced diet and are taking regular exercise.
What can you expect during recovery
How you might feel
Admitting that you have a problem and seeking help can be frightening. You may feel ashamed and confused by your behaviour. Sufferers who have broken through these barriers often report feelings of relief to have everything out in the open. Stopping compulsive overeating on your own is far more terrifying than dealing with it with the support and help of loved ones and professionals.
Talking about your behaviour and the emotions related to it will help you to unravel your emotional relationship with food. The urge to eat will not disappear straight away; you will have good days and bad days. But every time you resist the urge you will learn a little bit more about yourself and the ways in which you might cope with life without your eating disorder.
Some suffers of Compulsive overeating have reported feeling more exposed and anxious as they loose weight and the emotional protection that the eating disorder provided. You may find that your mood is more erratic without the option of eating to control your emotions. These feelings will pass over time as you develop your self-esteem and confidence and discover alternative ways of dealing with stressful situations and difficult emotions.
With regular and balanced meals you will see a decline in the physical symptoms of compulsive overeating such as poor skin and feelings of lethargy. You may lose weight rapidly at first. This will settle as your metabolism reduces to match what you are eating. Weight loss will then become more gradual.
It can be difficult to know how much to eat and when to eat at first. A Dietician or your GP can help you with this. Once you have an outline diet, try to stick to it and be patient in waiting for the symptoms of your eating disorder to subside.