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Overeating – symptoms, treatment and self-help

Overeating disorder involves frequent consumption of large amounts of food and the feeling that you cannot stop eating.

All people sometimes overeat due to certain social events, such as during Christmas, Easter or other holidays, but in some people overeating creates a feeling of losing control and becomes daily, with a person being said to have an overeating disorder.

If a person has an overeating disorder, he may feel ashamed about overeating and every time that period ends the person promises himself that he will stop, even though it does not happen. A person cannot stop eating because he feels compelled, and he cannot resist the urges and continues to eat.

Overeating – symptoms

Most people with an overeating disorder are obese, but there are also those who have the disorder and have a normal weight. Emotional and physical symptoms of an overeating disorder include:

  • eating large amounts of food in a certain period (which can last for two hours),
  • feeling out of control,
  • eating when you’re full or hungry,
  • eating faster than usual,
  • eating until you feel uncomfortable and full,
  • frequent eating while alone or in secret,
  • feeling depressed, ashamed, disgusted, guilty or upset about overeating,
  • often dieting, but most often without losing weight,
  • frequent weight changes,
  • eating a small amount of food in front of other people, and yet the person has a lot of weight,
  • fatigue,
  • the belief that life will be better if they manage to lose weight,
  • weight gain,
  • loss of sexual desire.

Unlike a person who has bulimia, after overeating, the person does not go to vomit, drink laxatives or exercise excessively. He may even go on a diet or try to eat normally, but restricting his diet can lead to more overeating.

In some cases, people overeat because of reckless habits, such as sitting in front of the television with a bag of chips in hand. But often overeating is the result of emotional problems. If a person has a negative view of their body, it can affect the occurrence of emotional overeating. Overeating becomes a disorder when it occurs at least once a week for a minimum period of 3 months.

Causes of overeating

Many people suffering from eating disorders, their family members and friends wonder how the development of eating disorders came about.

Eating disorders are caused by various factors:

Biological – history of eating disorders in the family, the occurrence of depression in the family, the tendency to gain weight, neurological and physiological disorders.

Psychological – perfectionism, emotional instability, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, desire to please others, failure to cope with the demands of the environment, disturbed relationships within the family, sexual abuse in childhood.

Sociocultural – society’s pressure for thinness, non-acceptance of natural body shape, increasing demands and expectations from women, the impact of the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Treatment of overeating

For many people, compulsive overeating is the result of a vicious circle that begins with a restrictive diet. Some call it the circle of “eating, repenting, repeating.” You start a diet because you feel bad about your weight or size, but you find it hard to stick to a diet – especially if you see food as a way to deal with certain emotional problems. After a while, you reach a tipping point and overeat with “forbidden food,” you feel guilt and shame, and the restrictions begin again.

Treating an eating disorder is challenging because many people feel ashamed of the disorder and try to cover it up. They are often so successful that close family members and friends do not know that these people are overeating.

If you think you have an overeating disorder, there are several ways to treat and prevent it, but the most important is to decide to seek professional help.

It can be difficult for you to stop overeating on your own, especially if you have emotional problems. Working with a counselor can help you discover psychological causes – such as a negative view of your body that affects your behavior.

Compulsive overeating – self-help

Many people who have an overeating disorder start a weight loss program instead of seeking help for their health. Even when diagnosed, treating the disorder can be time consuming and can be difficult to maintain.

Develop a healthy relationship with food

Since overeating can be a vicious circle that does not stop, it is necessary to develop a healthy relationship with food. Recovery from any addiction can be challenging, especially with overeating disorders and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your “drug” is necessary for survival, so you have no choice to avoid or substitute. Instead, you need to develop a healthy relationship with food, a relationship based on satisfying nutritional needs, not emotional ones.

To avoid the vicious circle it is advisable to:

You avoid temptation – you will start overeating more often if you have fast food, sweets and unhealthy food in the house. Eliminate temptations by removing your favorite food that supports overeating disorder from the fridge and off the shelves.

Listen to your own body – learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate 1-2 hours ago and your stomach isn’t rumbling, you’re probably not hungry. Wait until the craving for food passes (it is advisable to drink water or tea to see that you are not hungry, and yet you affect the calming of cravings because you have ingested something).

Focus on what you eat – how often you overeat without even thinking about eating or enjoying food. Instead of eating recklessly, be aware as you eat. Slow down and enjoy the texture and taste. Not only will you eat less, but you will also enjoy more.

Eat every 3-4 hours – don’t wait until you’re hungry. It only leads to overeating. Stick to planned meals as skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day.

Don’t avoid fat – contrary to what you think, fat as a macronutrient can help with overeating and weight gain. Try to include healthy fats in every meal to make you feel full and satisfied.

Resist boredom – instead of eating while bored, distract yourself. Go for a walk, call a friend, read or create a hobby such as painting or gardening.

Consequences of overeating

There are several emotional and physical consequences associated with overeating. Feelings of shame, hatred, anxiety or depression appear immediately after overeating. Physical discomfort and gastrointestinal upset often occur due to the large amount of food a person has ingested, and this can sometimes be as high as 15,000 calories.

It is possible for a person to feel lethargic and tired. Frequent repetition of such behavior over several months exacerbates feelings of depression, anger, sadness, and loneliness.

Feelings of shame are characteristic of the disorder, which is why a person has a need to be socially isolated. The most common consequence of an eating disorder is unwanted weight gain.

While some maintain a normal weight, most individuals who start overeating become obese or obese which causes health complications: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as diabetes. If you consume foods that are full of unhealthy fats, you can develop gout.

But still, even an individual can have a normal weight, but if he has an eating disorder he can suffer from many health consequences. Stereotypes can affect a person’s silent suffering before they seek help, for example, a person suffering from an eating disorder does not want to seek help because they are malnourished or ill enough to be treated for an eating disorder.

Therefore, despite all the difficulties and consequences that an overeating disorder brings with it, keep in mind that it is not a shame to seek help and start an adequate treatment in time. Early intervention results in a faster and more successful recovery.

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