What Is Compulsive Overeating?

A person with symptoms of compulsive overeating is characterized as having an addiction to food.

Compulsive eating is used to hide or manage emotions, fill emotional voids or copy with daily stresses. Unlike a person with bulimia, a person with compulsive overeating disorder does not purge the excessive food ingested. This excessive consumption can cause emotional, psychological, and physiological side effects.

You May Compulsively Overeat If…

  • You eat alone out of shame.
  • You are aware that you eat abnormally.
  • You’ve gained weight.
  • You hold the belief that food is your only friend.
  • You think self-defeating thoughts after eating.
  • You eat when you’re not hungry.


Some symptoms of compulsive overeating may include feelings of guilt because of eating, weight fluctuation or weight gain, low self-esteem, and fatigue.

Those who overeat are sometimes known to hide food in strange places and withdraw from activities because they are embarrassed by their weight.

Long-term effects of compulsive overeating may include high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, arthritis, and bone deterioration.


There are a number of treatment options for compulsive eating disorder. A recovery program should address the root cause of the disorder, emotional triggers, symptoms and destructive eating habits. Psychiatrists, nutritionists, therapists and eating disorder specialists can provide support and answers on the road to recovery.

Cognitive-behavorial therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy and dialectical behavior therapy are the three most common types of therapy used to treat compulsive eating. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors involved in binge eating. Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on relationship and interpersonal problems that encourage overeating. Finally, dialectical behavior therapy focuses on mindfulness and meditation.

Other treatments like group therapy, support groups, and medication are also options. It is important to consult a doctor and choose the right treatment for you.

Source: Help Guide

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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