Rebecca's House | Eating Disorders Treatment Programs

Compulsive Overeating Treatment

Compulsive overeating means eating when one is not physically hungry. Some compulsive overeaters eat when upset or stressed to get through the day. They may “graze” throughout the day as they work. They constantly think about what to eat or not eat, and about their weight. Many people use food to deal with their emotions. After doing this for a while, they don’t even realize what the feeling of hunger is anymore. People become disconnected from their Self and their emotions, and they use food as a way of numbing out. Many people with compulsive overeating are not aware of the core issues behind their compulsive overeating. Something may happen or a thought may surface that triggers the feeling they have buried. They feel they need to eat or use other numbing substances to not feel these triggered events. Compulsive overeating treatment can help repair and rebuild healthy eating structure and emotional wellness. Here are some common signs and symptoms of Compulsive Overeating:

  • Using food when upset or stressed
  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of body, weight, and food
  • Isolating or avoiding social situations 
  • Buying snack foods in bulk      
  • Thinking  not eating when hungry is being “good”
  • Constantly eating throughout the day
  • Eating while driving
  • Eating while on the computer or watching TV
  • Wanting to escape from stressful situations
  • Neglecting physical and emotional health
  • Relationship problems 
  • Being unaware of appetite and body signals
  • Feeling hopeless about work, relationships or life
  • Exhibiting codependent behaviors

Past trauma is often a catalyst for the development of a compulsive eating disorder. Food addiction is often a problem for compulsive eaters.  The use of food can become like a drug of abuse for some people. Food causes chemical changes in the brain for some people; products like sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) impact the reward system of the brain differently than for other people. If a person with this reaction has one bite, the craving process sets in. It is much like an alcoholic having one drink, then having no control over how much they drink after that. Sugar and HFCS are not the only substances that can trigger cravings. More research is needed to examine other ingredients commonly used in processed foods that are a catalyst for obesity and behavioral problems. Here are some common signs of Food Addiction:

  • Experiencing extreme cravings for a certain food
  • Eating excessive amounts of binge food
  • Eating several bowls of cereal in a row, or excessive amounts of breads or pasta
  • Regularly eating fast foods
  • Eating whole bags of chips or cookies
  • Eating excessive amounts of ice cream
  • Going to extreme measures to obtain food of choice
  • Stealing or violating personal values to obtain food
  • Having to have more than just one bite
  • Lying about food intake 
  • Feeling numbed, drugged, or high after eating their binge food
  • Experiencing a feeling of detoxification when eliminating the binge food
  • Difficulty stopping disordered eating behavior
  • Failing eating disorder treatment programs multiple times
  • Relapsing on alcohol or drugs

Recovering alcoholics often have addiction tendencies towards sugar. Alcohol is metabolized in the body as sugar. Many newly recovered people become addicted to sweets to compensate for alcohol abstinence. Food is also used to push down feelings, especially guilt and remorse during early recovery. Weight gain in recovery often leads to relapse. It is also important to recognize many people had disordered eating before the alcohol or substance abuse began. If this sounds like your struggle, please call 1-800-285-4642 now for a free assessment and start your recovery. You don’t have to do this alone. Call us today for treatment for overeating.