What is a Compulsive Overeater or Binge Eating Syndrome?
Take with permission from The Recovery Group http://recovery.hiwaay.net/trg.html
The most common element surviving ALL Eating Disorders
is the inherent presence of a low self esteem.
The Recovery Group is dedicated to serving compulsive eaters. Compulsive Eating is not a disease that one can take a pill for and cure. It is not something you can go on a diet, lose weight and forevermore be okay. Diets actually do great damage to a compulsive eater. Compulsive eating is incurable and serious. If you are a compulsive eater, please always remember IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You did not cause this and you will not be able to cure it. Nevertheless, by arming yourself with knowledge about the disease and by enlightening yourself, you will be able to live a life that is happy, joyous and free and one happier, healthier and more blessed than you ever dreamed possible.
WHAT IS A COMPULSIVE EATER
Victims of Compulsive Eating have what is characterized as an "addiction" to food, using food and eating as a way to hide from their emotions, to fill a void they feel inside, and to cope with daily stresses and problems in their lives.
Compulsive eaters are people whose hands or minds move toward food when they are not at all hungry. Compulsive eating has nothing to do with the size of your body. Compulsive eaters come in all shapes and sizes. Compulsive eating has to do with how many hours you spend preoccupied with thoughts about what you are eating and what you look like. The Overcoming Overeating approach does not address eating disorders; it addresses dieting disorders, the casualties of the diet industry.
People suffering with Compulsive Eating tend to be overweight, are usually aware that their eating habits are abnormal, but find little comfort because of society's tendency to stereotype the "overweight" individual. Words like, "just go on a diet" are as emotionally devastating to a person suffering Compulsive Overeating as "just eat" can be to a person suffering Anorexia. A person suffering as a Compulsive Overeater is at health risk for a heart attack, high blood-pressure and cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis and bone deterioration, and stroke.
Men and Women who are Compulsive Overeaters will sometimes hide behind their physical appearance, using it as a blockade against society (common in victims of sexual abuse). They feel guilty for not being "good enough," shame for being overweight, and generally have a very low self-esteem... they use food and eating to cope with these feelings, which only leads into the cycle of feeling them ten-fold and trying to find a way to cope again. With a low self esteem and often constant need for love and validation he/she will turn to obsessive episodes of binging and eating as a way to forget the pain and the desire for affection.
BINGE EATING DISORDER
Men and Women living with Binge Eating Disorder suffer a combination of symptoms similar to those of Compulsive Overeaters and Bulimia. The victim periodically goes on large binges, consuming an unusually large quantity of food in a short period of time (less than 2 hours) uncontrollably, eating until they are uncomfortably full. The weight of each victim is usually characterized as above average or overweight, and victims tend to have a more difficult time losing weight and maintaining average healthy weights. Unlike Bulimia, victims do not purge following a Binge episode.
Reasons for Binge Eating can be similar to those of Compulsive Overeating; Using Binges as a way to hide from their emotions, to fill a void they feel inside, and to cope with daily stresses and problems in their lives. Binging can be used as a way to keep people away, to subconsciously maintain an overweight appearance to cator to society's sad stigma "if I'm fat, no one will like me," as each victim may feel undeserving of love. As with Bulimia, Binging can also be used as self-punishment for doing "bad" things, or for feeling badly about themselves.
A person suffering with Binge Eating Disorder is at health risk for a heart attack, high blood-pressure and cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis and bone deterioration, and stroke.
The following is considered the "text book" definition of Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) to assist doctors in making a clinical diagnosis... it is in no way representative of what a victim feels or experiences in living with the illness. It is important to note that you can still suffer from BED even if one of the below signs is not present. In other words, if you think you have BED, it's dangerous to read the diagnostic criteria and think "I don't have one of the symptoms, so I must not have it".
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating.
An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
A. Eating, in a discrete period of time (eg, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances;
B. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (eg, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
2. The binge eating episodes are associated with at least three of the following:
A. Eating much more rapidly than normal
B. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
C. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
D. Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
E. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or feeling very guilty after overeating
F. Marked distress regarding binge eating.
G. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least 2 days a week for 6 months.
H. The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (eg, purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
3. Eating and/or Sleeping Problems
It is important to be aware that throughout life, during positive and negative stress periods, people may experience eating and/or sleep pattern problems. If either or both of these conditions persist or interfere with daily life, then it is important to identify the underlying cause(s) of the problem. Problems with Eating and Sleeping are defined as usually over/under eating or too much or too little sleep. During the past decade, we have become aware of the detrimental effects of Anorexia, Bulimia and Compulsive Overeating and while these problems may warrant medical attention, the underlying causes need to be identified and appropriate coping skills developed.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR AN EATING DISORDER
For most people, eating disorders can be treated successfully with a combination of ongoing medical care and monitoring, psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and often, medication. Medical monitoring helps to correct and prevent some of the potentially dangerous complications of eating disorders, for example, bone density loss or disturbances in the heart's rhythm. Psychotherapy offers strategies aimed at recognizing and changing maladaptive behaviors associated with eating disorders; it also identifies and addresses the psychological stressors in interpersonal and family relationships, major losses, and traumatic events that may have lead to development of an eating disorder. Nutritional counseling assists with developing a reasonable, tolerable plan for eating and supports following it consistently. Finally, several different kinds of medications can be helpful in readjusting the brain chemistry that may be in part responsible for the eating disorder. Newer types of antidepressants have improved safety and tolerability and can yield sustained relief from eating disorder symptoms.
The above is a compilation of information about compulsive eating from various organizations dealing with this disorder including Harvard Eating Disorders Center, Something Fishy, National Center for Overcoming Overeating, Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention and The Renfrew Center.
Copyright © 1999 ~ 2003 The RECOVERY Group
Are You A Compulsive Overeater?
Taken from www.oa.org with permission of the WSO
Are You a Compulsive Overeater?
Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. This series of questions may help you determine if you are a compulsive overeater.
1. Do you eat when you're not hungry?
2. Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?
3. Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?
4. Do you give too much time and thought to food?
5. Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone?
6. Do you plan these secret binges ahead of time?
7. Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?
8. Is your weight affecting the way you live your life?
9. Have you tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal?
10. Do you resent others telling you to "use a little willpower" to stop overeating?
11. Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet "on your own" whenever you wish?
12. Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day or night, other than mealtime?
13. Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?
14. Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?
15. Does your eating behavior make you or others unhappy?
Have you answered yes to three or more of these questions? If so, it is probable that you have or are well on your way to having a compulsive overeating problem. We have found that the way to arrest this progressive disease is to practice the Twelve-Step recovery program of Overeaters Anonymous.
Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. We welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively. There are no dues or fees for members; we are self-supporting through our own contributions, neither soliciting nor accepting outside donations. OA is not affiliated with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology or religious doctrine; we take no position on outside issues. Our primary purpose is to abstain from compulsive overeating and to carry this message of recovery to those who still suffer.
Is OA for You?
Only you can decide that question. No one else can make this decision for you. We who are now in OA have found a way of life which enables us to live without the need for excess food. We believe that compulsive overeating is a progressive illness, one that, like alcoholism and some other illnesses, can be arrested. Remember, there is no shame in admitting you have a problem; the most important thing is to do something about it.
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