Compulsive overeating treatment

There is a broad spectrum of eating disorders, from eating nothing (anorexia) to eating pretty much anything (binge eating). Both ends are very serious and need to be treated as soon as an individual is willing, usually even before that. Furthermore, both ends involve psychological problems that need to be addressed in that treatment for it to be successful. Learn more about compulsive overeating (binge eating), its effects, and the wonderful treatments that are available.

Compulsive Overeating
At one point or another, everyone overeats. Think about that last Thanksgiving meal where you just had to go up for thirds or that time at the neighborhood 4th of July picnic when the desserts were absolutely irresistible. This isn’t a crime, nor is it something to worry about. On the other hand, if overeating is uncontrollable and a regular habit, the individual probably suffers from binge eating disorder, and it’s time to look into the matter and any underlying issues. Just as individuals with anorexia eat nothing for psychological reasons, binge eaters overeat to cope with stress and any negative feelings; ironically, the overeating ends up making them feel worse. It becomes an endless cycle of feeling bad, overeating, feeling bad, and overeating. The binge lasts for about 2 hours, and during the time, the individual feels powerless and unable to stop even if they wanted to. The characteristics of the disorder are: frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating, feeling extremely distressed or upset after an episode; and exhibiting no attempts to make up for the binging, such as through vomiting or over-exercising. Guilt, disgust, depression…these are all very powerful words and feelings, and sometimes an individual needs help dealing with them. That is where professional treatment plays a role.


Treatment is crucial because the continuous consumption of large quantities of food takes a toll on an individual’s body, setting him or her up for the risk of many diseases (type 2 diabetes,  high cholesterol, gall bladder disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal problems, sleeping problems, and more). The primary issue comes into play because unlike other “addictions,” the addiction, in this case it is food, is needed no matter what; treatment aims to make this a healthier relationship for the individual suffering.

Eating right

This is a major part of treatment. Learning how to eat healthier can reduce the risk for the previous health problems and improve the ones that have already begun. It involves eating not to relieve stress and emotional problems, but for health and nutrition. Making balanced meal plans, choosing healthy foods when eating out, choosing healthy foods for snacks, and making sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is all part of the plan.

Helpful strategies

There are strategies that can help eliminate the emotional eating and encourage the healthy eating. Family members and friends can offer endless support. Different relaxation techniques can be used to relieve stress. Making time for the things you enjoy will make you happier all around.

Helpful tips
There are many tips that can help an individual overcome a binge eating disorder. The main thing to remember is that your ultimate goal should be to be happy and healthy.

  • Start your day with a nutritious breakfast to jump-start your day; you’ll also be less likely to want to eat more later in the day.
  • Avoid temptation by not putting yourself in situations where you will have access to your “weakness” foods.
  • Stop dieting. The deprivation of food can trigger your overeating habits.
  • Exercise. Not only is exercising a great stress reliever, but it can help you burn calories and lose weight.

There are different types of therapy available for those with binge eating disorder; therapy is meant to fight the compulsion to binge, to teach you how to change unhealthy eating habits into healthy ones, to monitor your eating and moods, and to help you develop stress-relieving skills.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy focuses on the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors that compel binge eating. You need to become more aware of how you use food to deal with emotions. You’ll probably have to keep a food journal so the therapist can help you identify binge triggers. Lastly, you will be educated on nutrition, weight loss, and relaxation techniques.
  • Dialectal behavior therapy. This therapy combines cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques with mindfulness meditation so you can learn how to accept yourself, tolerate stress better, and regulate your emotions. Your individual attitudes about eating, shape, and weight will be discussed.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy. This therapy focuses on relationship problems and interpersonal issues that may contribute to the binge eating. You will learn to improve communication skills and how to develop relationships with friends and family. This type of therapy sets you up with the support you need.
Last updated on Nov 20th, 2010 and filed under Healthy Eating. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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