Compulsive overeating: symptoms, causes, how to get rid of it.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

All of us are inclined from time to time from the bottom of our hearts to eat up goodies at the festive table or, by chance, to pluck a whole box of cookies into a fascinating film. There is nothing reprehensible and alarming if such a habit, of course, is not regular and poorly controlled. Otherwise, we can talk about one of the violations of food consumption – compulsive overeating.

“More women and men suffer from compulsive overeating than from bulimia and anorexia”

Compulsive overeating – what is it?
Compulsive overeating is the unreasonable, uncontrolled eating of food in large quantities in one (lasting several hours), several times, or throughout the day. Food absorption can occur, both against the background of brutal, not stopping appetite, and satiety. At the same time, a feeling of fullness does not occur, and a person does not receive satisfaction from food.

Compulsive Overeating – Causes
The reasons can be divided into three types:

  1. Psychological. Depressive states and stressful situations often lead to overeating. They can arise, both from a single traumatic agent (loss of a loved one, work, habitual lifestyle), so permanent, multiple: this also includes social reasons – ridicule of others, nit-picking from relatives, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction.

2. Biological Failure in the work of the hypothalamus, which controls appetite – this area, located in the diencephalon, at some point begins to send incorrect signals about our feelings of hunger and satiety. Also, in the course of the research, a genetic mutation was discovered, which (so far according to unconfirmed data) can cause food dependence. And, finally, according to some evidence, overeating is an insufficient level of the “hormone of happiness and good mood” – serotonin.

3. Social. How often children are persuaded to eat lunch by subsequent rewards in the form of watching cartoons, going to an amusement park, etc. Food, even when the child is already full and refuses the last few spoons of soup, begins to be associated with subsequent pleasure. Conversely, food can begin to serve as a way to seize negative emotions: criticism, unflattering remarks about appearance, etc.

Symptoms of Compulsive Overeating
It is believed that one of the signs of food dependence – gluttony, is overweight and even obesity. However, this is not quite true. A “professional” eater can have quite an ordinary weight. Therefore, you should pay attention to other symptoms. They can be divided into behavioral and emotional.


  • Lack of satiety and continued nutrition during satiety.
  • A person is not able to control the food process and break away from it.
  • Food is consumed in large quantities and quickly, without the accompanying pleasure of its taste.
  • Secret food, alone, hidden, so that no one would see gluttony.
  • Emotional:
  • Despite the fact that the process of eating food frees a person from stress, a sense of satisfaction does not occur.
  • Shame, guilt, anger, despair from the amount eaten, and the inability to control. Which immediately need to be seized again.
  • The feeling of autopilot during bouts of gluttony.

Compulsive overeating – how to fight on your own
It is more difficult to get rid of compulsive overeating than other types of addiction. Unlike the same alcohol or drugs, you need food and you can’t avoid eating it. How to deal with overeating on your own? Try to establish the right attitude to healthy food: stop eating, if and when it is based on an emotional reason.

“We eat to live, not live to eat”

To stop compulsive overeating will help to compile a list of healthy foods and balanced minerals and vitamins food, a clear plan, and diet, with their strict implementation.

Compulsive Nutrition – How to Treat
Compulsive overeating is best treated with professional support. It is necessary to identify and eliminate the underlying causes of this food dependence. It can be psychoanalytic therapy and group exercises. The therapist will teach you how to control factors that encourage excessive eating, how to manage negative emotions, and how to deal with stressful situations. Types of psychotherapy such as cognitive, behavioral, and hypnosis are considered the most effective.

As for the use of medicines, they are not used independently, but only as part of a psycho-therapeutic treatment program. Antidepressants and appetite suppressants work while they are being taken, but do not cure. The results of the studies show a large number of relapses after drug withdrawal.


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