How common is compulsive overeating?
Compulsive overeating is extremely common. If you compulsively overeat, you may experience lots of shame around your relationship with food. Maybe, you feel stressed or emotional. It is a way to help you calm down. Often, you wonder why you always turn to food when you’re upset. But, having a difficult relationship with food is extremely common. Especially, in our food and body-obsessed society.
Is compulsive overeating the same as binge eating disorder?
No. The diagnosis of binge eating disorder requires that an individual eat extremely large amounts of food in relatively short periods of time. But, that’s not the case for someone with a compulsive eating disorder. Rather, they may eat more food than their body needs during the day because they are emotional, not hungry.
Is compulsive overeating the same as emotional eating?
Yes, compulsive overeating and emotional eating are two different terms that mean the same thing.
Why do people eat compulsively?
The real issue in compulsive overeating is less how much a person eats and more about the way that you relate to food. A person with compulsive eating often eats for emotional reasons. In fact, they may have trouble concentrating on anything but food. Also, they may possibly experience guilt around consuming food and ignore their feelings. Furthermore, they may be predisposed to eat larger amounts of food because their bodies produce more ghrelin. This is the body chemical that makes us hungry and causes food cravings.
Is compulsive overeating a mental health diagnosis?
At the time I am writing this blog, compulsive overeating is not its own diagnostic category. Instead, it is lumped in with many other food problems. These include orthorexia and night eating syndrome. Actually, it is under the category of an “Otherwise Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder.” But, we are hopeful that compulsive overeating will be recognized as its own diagnosis in the future.
Is this about willpower?
Absolutely not. People who eat compulsively are not lacking in will power or discipline. Rather, the body’s stress response is overly tied to hunger and feeding cues. Emotional distress has become associated with the action of eating. Unfortunately, once this association is made, a host of body chemicals become involved in their eating habits. Then, these chemicals cause the individual to have strong cravings or hunger cues the moment stress arises. So, many people also end up entering into a vicious cycle where the more a person eats, the more the body produces ghrelin. This is a chemical that causes cravings and hunger.
Is compulsive overeating treatable?
Yes. A skilled therapist can help you to identify triggers that lead to compulsive overeating. And, in counseling, you will learn to recognize and manage your emotions so that you need to turn to food less. It is important to choose a therapist with specific training in helping people to deal with food problems. These problems are their own category and require a very specific skill set. You may also benefit from joining a group so that you can get interpersonal support. But, please, make sure the group is supportive of a non-diet mentality.
Begin Eating Disorder Treatment in Washington DC
If you identify with the symptoms of compulsive overeating or have an unhealthy relationship with food, we can help! In fact, our therapists are trained to help individuals with eating disorders recover and lead happy healthy lives. To begin counseling in Washington DC, please follow these steps:
- Contact our counseling clinic to learn more about eating disorder treatment for compulsive overeating,
- Meet with one of our well-trained eating disorder counselors,
- Begin counseling and find power over compulsive overeating.
Other Services offered at Monarch Wellness & Psychotherapy
At Monarch Wellness and Psychotherapy in Washington DC, we offer a variety of wellness and psychotherapy services to help you find hope for a better tomorrow. Our goal is to create a safe space where you can be real and honest about the things that are bothering you. Therefore, our therapists offer individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and group therapy for adolescents, young adults, and adults in the D.C. area. The therapists at our counseling practice specialize in treating eating disorders including anorexia, binge eating disorder/compulsive overeating, and bulimia. Also, we specialize in treating anxiety, depression, and trauma. Please reach out to our counseling office with any questions or to learn more about the ways we can help you!