Compulsive Eating Disorder

 What is Compulsive Eating Disorder, and is it the same thing known as Binge Eating (BED) Disorder?

-The terms are often used interchangeably and in the vast majority of cases this is correct, and when a compulsive eater overeats due to  bingeing , it can indeed be said that he or she has a binge eating disorder.

 While both terms describe the same basic problem, a very small percentage of those with a compulsive eating disorder would  not  be considered to have a binge eating disorder.

The term  binge  indicates an excessive amount. (see  binge eating video  below)

-The difference being, in some isolated cases a compulsive eater may be compelled to eat small amounts (although not in excess) of food many, many times throughout the day (without even being overweight), therefore not actually "bingeing" or considered a binge eater. (but definitely compulsive)

  -The key here is that the eating of a binge eater is an excessive amount.

 This type of compulsive eater may eventually become a binge eater as well, if the problem is not addressed and controlled. (if small amounts increase)

See Causes of Compulsive Eating Disorder

 Whichever you call it, compulsive or binge eating, it is the most common of all eating disorders. It affects 2% of men but is more likely to be seen in women (3½%) both in late teens and early 20s. (but can occur in anyone)

It is also present in over 30% of those who seek treatment for excessive weight gain, as compulsive over eating eventually leads to obesity. These percentages are likely much higher, as so many go undetected.

 We all have a compulsion to eat more than we should from time to time, but a person with a compulsive eating disorder simply cannot control what is an irresistible impulse to eat.


 Binge eaters will frequently consume large amounts of food even though they do not feel any hunger or true need to eat. (they may consume as much as 10-15 thousand calories every day)

-Unlike with Bulimia, those with a binge eating problem do not fast or purge (through vomiting or laxative use), nor do they use strenuous exercise after a binge, thereby ensuring the inevitable weight gain.

 Often, the person who suffers from a compulsive eating disorder will resort to hiding while they eat, to consume their food alone because they are so embarrassed by their actions. The urge to eat large quantities of food is just too great and cannot be ignored.

   Signs of Compulsive Eating

-A compulsive eater is not too difficult to recognize. Many of the most common signs of a compulsive eating disorder are also the most obvious:

  • Someone who eats his or her food at a much faster than normal pace.

  • A person who consumes a large quantity of food at one time.

  • Eats continuously throughout the day, with few if any planned meals.

  • Has binges more than twice each week for last 6 months.

  • A compulsive eater eats uncontrollably even when not hungry.

  • Never satisfied or full, no matter how much is consumed.

  • Hoards food to eat in secret, hides food to eat later.

  • Often continues to eat to the point of discomfort, even nausea.

  • The inability to completely stop eating for any length of time.

  • A person who diets constantly, but does not lose weight.

  • Eating normally in public, but over eating when alone.

  • Someone who most often eats alone from shame and embarrassment.

  • A person who does not exhibit self-control in other aspects of life.

  • Has a history of weight fluctuations.

  • Rapid weight gain or sudden onset of obesity.

  • Significantly decreased mobility due to weight gain.

  • -See Health Problems of Compulsive Eating

    Although people with compulsive eating disorder are usually overweight, in the early stages many are of average, or only slightly overweight. This is the best time to correct eating habits and to seek professional help.

    -The problem is, the person more often than not, does not accept the problem (or is too embarrassed) -until weight gain is out of control.

       Emotional Component of Compulsive Eating

    What may be the hardest part for sufferers of this eating disorder to deal with, is the lack of understanding from their peers.

    In many cases, people recovering from drug or alcohol addictions often seem to receive more compassion and understanding, which only worsens the psychological effects for compulsive over eaters.

    -Over 75% of those affected are found to have an emotional or psychological component to their eating habits:

  • Unresponsive to surroundings during binge episodes -only to eating.

  • Use food to cope with stress and to hide from emotional problems.

  • Obsesses and fantasizes about eating and food.

  • Stress and anxiety that is only relieved by more eating.

  • Have extremely low self-esteem, never good enough.

  • Embarrassed by the amount they have eaten.

  • Feeling disgusted, ashamed and guilty after overeating.

  • Eats more when depressed, moody.

  • Often eats from loneliness, sadness.

  • Is aware that eating patterns are not normal.

  • Desperate to stop compulsive eating habits and control weight.

  • Withdrawal from social activities from embarrassment.

  • _______________

    The Good News:

    -If a friend or loved one is showing signs of a compulsive eating disorder, and you suspect they're having a problem, encourage them to talk it out with you and seek help from a professional, it's a very treatable disorder.

    -Check out the thing about compulsive eating disorder for more.


    Overcoming Compulsive Eating

    -More Information on Eating Disorders and Your Health...

    Psychotherapy Types - Depression or Eating Disorder? - Body Mass Index Chart

    Healthy Eating - Story on Obesity Dangers - One Person's Bulimia Story

    Adolescent Obesity - Calories Burned in 15 Minutes - Balanced Diet Chart for Kids

    Signs of Bulimia - Beat Child Obesity in 3 Steps - Symptoms of Anorexia

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