When people think of eating disorders, they’re usually thinking of conditions that involve starvation, vomiting and excessive exercise in desperate attempts to lose weight. While anorexia and bulimia are indeed problematic eating disorders, sometimes the opposite side of the eating disorder spectrum is overlooked. Obesity is also a serious problem that can sometimes be attributed to an eating disorder, and it is an alarming epidemic that needs to be addressed because obesity leads to many health hazards.
“anorexia and bulimia are serious eating disorders”
One of the possible mechanisms behind being overweight or obese is having compulsive eating disorder, also known as binge eating disorder. People with compulsive eating disorder, as the name suggests, are compelled to eat. They have an addiction to food which is not too much unlike an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and eating food is a way to deal with stress and to distract from problems they might struggle with. However, whereas people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction might deny having a problem, people with compulsive eating disorder often realize that their eating habits are abnormal and harmful to them. This adds to feelings of guilt, low self esteem and inadequacy that already fuel compulsive eating behavior, and allows the vicious cycle to continue. Even if they are aware of the cycle, they continue to eat even if they might not feel hungry because it helps make them feel better and they feel powerless over the situation.
Some of the symptoms of compulsive eating disorder include weight gain, anxiety regarding lack of control over eating, isolation, frequent dieting, high blood pressure, mood swings, food hoarding, guilt and shame after eating, eating alone or secretly, attributing life problems to weight, belief that food is one’s only friend, and that weight loss would make everything better. Compulsive eating disorder can eventually lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression, kidney disease, arthritis, and bone deterioration.
Overcoming compulsive eating disorder involves developing healthy eating patterns and dealing with the emotional problems that contribute to binge eating. It’s important for patients to eat breakfast to prevent binging later in the day. They should also get regular exercise and focus on eating balanced meals instead of yo-yo dieting. Eventually, they must learn to avoid the temptation to eat and to find healthier ways of coping with stress. There are also a variety of therapy treatments available that can help treat underlying depression and get patients to deal with their emotions. Therapy also provides support for patients so that they don’t have to go through the recovery process on their own.