Compulsive overeating is a serious eating disorder that can lead to serious medical consequences if left untreated. People who suffer from compulsive overeating have an obsessive/compulsive relationship with food that causes them to consume large amounts of food while feeling out of control and unable to stop. This obsession with food is very similar to an addiction and is developed as a way to cope with painful or unwanted thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Compulsive Overeating and Women: Risk Factors
Compulsive overeating affects men and women alike, but women face a unique set of risk factors for developing a binge eating disorder:
* Risk #1: Body Image
Studies show that girls as young as 12 years old and younger learn from the media and other societal cues that a certain body type is the key to happiness and popularity. This preoccupation with their body image can quickly spiral into an unhealthy relationship with food. Dieting and restrictive eating can lead a person to form an obsessive/compulsive relationship with food that can develop into a compulsive overeating disorder.
* Risk #2: Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse, especially during childhood, is a leading risk factor for any eating disorder. Since women are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than men, it makes sense that they would be more likely to cope with the effects of their sexual trauma by compulsively overeating.
* #3: Emotional Processing
Women tend to cope with overwhelming emotions differently than men. Compulsive overeaters use food to cope with and literally ‘push down’ feelings of stress, depression, low self-esteem and other hidden issues. In fact, many people report feeling numb, distracted or in a trance-like state during an overeating episode. This feeling of escape is quickly replaced be intense feelings of shame, self-loathing and guilt about how much they’ve eaten, which can restart the cycle all over again.
Compulsive Overeating and Women: Recovery
If you want to stop overeating, you must learn how to separate food from the underlying emotional issues you’re trying to ‘stuff’ down. Here are five tips to help you achieve this.
1. Find positive ways to manage stress and negative emotions. Try exercising, talking with a friend, yoga, or any activity that calms you down and lessens the compulsive urge to eat.
2. Learn how to process your emotions. Eating disorders, such as compulsive overeating, are symptoms of a deeper issue. Instead of pushing down your painful emotions by eating food, learn how to face your emotions and positively work through them.
3. Identify the emotional and external triggers that lead you to overeat. Do you overeat when you feel lonely? Does visiting a certain family member trigger an episode? Spend a week paying special attention to what you’re feeling right before an overeating episode and write it down. You may uncover some surprising triggers and be able to avoid them in the future.
4. Don’t diet. Eating foods you’ve restricted will only make you feel guilty and fuel your desire to overeat. Learn how to shop for and make healthy meals that are satisfying yet low in calories and fat.
5. Get help through counseling and therapy. It’s very hard to overcome the underlying issues that have lead to your disorder without outside help. Professional treatment can help you resolve the emotional issues that lead you to overeat, learn coping skills to manage these emotions, and rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. You’ll also receive nutritional counseling to teach you how to keep a balanced diet.
If you’re a woman and have a problem with overeating, don’t wait. Get help today from a treatment facility that specializes in women with compulsive overeating and other eating disorders.