Compulsive overeating is an eating disorder that causes people to eat large amounts of food due to their emotional instability. Some people eat everything in one sitting, whilst others eat throughout the day. Learn how to identify obsessive overeating symptoms.
1. Watch for unusual eating habits. Someone with an eating disorder is going to have an unhealthy relationship with food, such as:
Fast, uncontrolled eating. Obsessive overeaters eat quickly, compulsively, and may keep eating, even after they are full.
Secretive eating. Many compulsive overeaters eat alone out of embarrassment, fear, or shame. You may find hidden food wrappers in their bedroom, office, or locker.
Hoarding food. Obsessive overeaters eat in secret, so tend to keep food in a secret storage area so others will not see the amount of food they are consuming.
2. Pay attention to strong emotions. Obsessive overeaters often struggle with strong emotions and attempt to cope with and control these emotions through eating. Whilst some of us may indulge in a bit of chocolate to feel better, compulsive overeaters consume massive volumes of food, often in one sitting.
Depression, mood swings, and anxiety. For those who are depressed or anxious, eating can offer a quick boost in energy and positive feelings. However, compulsive overeaters â?? not knowing when to stop â?? may feel even more depressed at the end of a binge.
Guilt, self-criticism and low self-worth. Obsessive overeaters often get caught in a cycle when they first feel insecure or insignificant, so they eat to feel better. Then they feel guilty for eating so much and feel even worse about themselves.
3. Keep an eye out for physical effects. Any type of unhealthy eating can cause health problems, since the amount and type of food we eat affects our bodies. There are several physical symptoms you can look out for:
High blood pressure and/or cholesterol, leg or joint pain. Eating large amounts of food can cause an increase in blood pressure and cholesterol. The extra weight compulsive overeaters often have can cause soreness in their joints.
Shortness of breath, easily fatigued, and excessive sweating. Due to being overweight or eating unhealthy foods, people who struggle with obsessive overeating may have trouble taking a walk or standing for even short periods of time.
Insomnia or poor sleeping habits. Obsessive overeaters are often tired during the day because they cannot sleep well at night.
Look for major changes in weight. Obsessive overeaters often get caught in a cycle of rapid weight gain and weight loss. They try to manage weight gain with chronic dieting and exercise resultingin an unhealthy relationship with food.
4. Notice if the person is constantly thinking about food and their bodies. Those with eating disorders often talk and think about calories, recipes, diets, and body image. Though everyone talks about these things occasionally, obsessive overeaters are consumed by these thoughts.
5. Observe if the person withdraws or isolates themselves. People with eating disorders often lose interest in other activities and withdraw socially. If they are spending an excessive amount of time alone, it is possible that they are dealing with compulsive overeating.
Help and encourage obsessive overeaters to get the support they need. There are many counselling and treatment centres available to help those struggling with compulsive overeating, and they will need support as they try to overcome this addiction.
Do not assume that if someone is overweight or exhibiting these signs, they are obsessive overeaters. These symptoms can be tied to several illnesses and disorders, and a medical doctor and/or licenced therapist needs to be the one to make the diagnosis.
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