Compulsive overeating, also known as food addiction, is a term described by mental health professionals and eating disorder specialists for individuals who eat a large amount of food in a short period of time and feel “out of control” about their eating habits. This intense urge to consume a large amount of food in a short period of time is triggered by underlying feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and control issues. Compulsive overeating is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V). Instead compulsive overeating is a term used to describe an unhealthy eating behavior that can be described as comfort eating or a food addiction. Compulsive overeating affects both men and women of all ages as opposed to the majority of eating disorders which have a greater tendency to affect more women than men.
The following are signs and symptoms of compulsive overeating disorder. These must occur at least three times per week in order for this term to be used correctly:
Unlike compulsive overeating, binge eating disorder is recognized as an eating disorder in the DSM V and is very similar to compulsive overeating. However, there are subtle differences between the two. In order for binge-eating disorder to be diagnosed, an individual must partake in binging episodes on average of at least once a week for a three-month duration. Additionally, at least three of the following factors must be present:
Signs and symptoms seen in compulsive eating such as the loss of control during binging episodes, hoarding or hiding food, feelings of guilt and shame after the binge episode and eating in privacy are also present in those with binge eating disorder. For many eating disorder and mental health professionals, binge eating disorder is a more severe form of compulsive overeating, hence why it is recognized as a true eating disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM V).
Center For Discovery RAlexandria, VA specializes in residential treatment for compulsive overeating with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.
For more information, resources, or to consult with an eating disorder treatment specialist, call 866.482.3876
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the clinical approach for compulsive overeating and binge-eating disorder at the Discovery Alexandria, VA recovery center. Cognitive behavioral therapy encompasses multiple techniques that focus on identifying and challenging negative automatic thoughts and behaviors. The treatment programs also utilizes techniques to reinforce positive behaviors and cognition. Distorted or maladaptive thoughts regarding food and body image are initially identified and addressed in order to allow better insight and understanding of the underlying triggers associated with these thoughts. Both the patient and therapist must recognize these thoughts and identify when and why they occur in order for behavioral change to take place. Behavioral approaches to recognizing and eliminating maladaptive thoughts associated with body weight include food journaling, exploring the underlying irrational beliefs regarding the individual’s self-esteem, learning to differentiate between certain emotional feelings and maintaining a written log of thoughts and resulting feelings. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps with binging behavior but is not associated with weight loss.
Nutrition and dietary therapy are also highly recommended for compulsive overeating as it is important for the individual to gain insight on when, how much and which types of food to eat in order to maintain a healthy weight. The therapy simultaneously provides patients with the knowledge to ensure proper intake of vitamins and nutrients.