|What is compulsive overeating?
Compulsive overeating is a psychological illness characterized
by the sufferer frequently eating excessive amounts of food,
sometimes even when they are not hungry. Most of the overeating does not take the form of binges but the
sufferer may pick at food or “graze” throughout the day.
Compulsive overeating is not the same as binge-eating disorder,
although both involve consuming large quantities of food.
The psychological aspects of compulsive overeating make it
stand apart from binge-eating disorder. Sufferers of compulsive overeating may feel
relief or joy after eating, as it helps feel a void inside of them. Sufferers of
binge-eating disorder tend to feel guilt, disgust and depression after
binging (similar to sufferers of bulimia). A sufferer of compulsive overeating tends to obsess and think about
food far more than a sufferer of binge-eating disorder. They may plan their day around what, when and
where they are going to eat.
According to The Eating Disorders Sourcebook (Costin,
Carolyn), approximately one in five young women report
that they have had a binging relationship with food. The
Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness estimates that
1-4% of the US population suffers from binge-eating disorder,
and men make up about 40% of these numbers. They also report
that the onset of binge-eating disorder usually occurs during
the late adolescence or early twenties. However, it should
be noted that binge-eating disorder can affect anybody, regardless
of age, gender or ethnicity.
Facts and statistics for binge-eating
Causes of compulsive overeating
As with other eating disorders, there is no pre-determined
cause of compulsive overeating and the reasons for the onset
of the disorder may vary from person to person. Is it not
uncommon for compulsive overeating to lead to bulimia. Compulsive overeating is a spontaneous illness associated with low self-esteem.
The binges are distractions that allow the sufferer to not
think about the real root of their problems.
Causes of eating disorders
Behavioral signs and symptoms
Somebody suffering from compulsive overeating will often eat
in secret when they are alone. Binges may occur at night and
the sufferer may hoard food in their bedroom or in other hidden
locations. A sufferer may consume many thousands of calories
during a binge which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
A sign that is frequently overlooked is financial difficulty.
The cost of food for sufferer can be many times
that of the average person.
Other symptoms include avoiding social situations (particularly
situations involving food), feelings of depression and anxiety,
and eating to deal with negative emotions.
Physical signs and symptoms
There are many physical symptoms associated with compulsive overeating. Most of the symptoms are long term unless the sufferer
is also purging (but not purging often enough to be clinically
diagnosed with bulimia). Purging can have immediate consequences
as well as long term ones. Some of the physical signs and symptoms
associated with binge-eating disorder include:
What these symptoms mean
- Weight gain, often leading to obesity
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Chronic kidney problems or kidney failure
- Complications during pregnancy
- Gallbladder disease
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Skin disorders
Diagnostic criteria (DSM IV)
There is currently no diagnostic code for compulsive overeating
because the DSM believes more research is required. However,
they do offer some guidelines (but still no diagnostic code) for binge-eating disorder .
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating, including eating an abnormally
large amount of food and feeling a lack of control over eating.
2. Binge eating that’s associated with at least three of these
factors: eating rapidly; eating until uncomfortably full; eating
large amounts when not hungry; eating alone out of embarrassment;
feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after eating.
3. Distress about binge eating (this would likely not apply to compulsive overeating).
4. Binge eating occurring at least twice a week for at least
5. Binge eating not associated with inappropriate methods to
compensate for overeating, such as self-induced vomiting.
Diagnostic criteria for all eating