When you think of binge eating behavior and compulsive eating behavior, you might believe they are two different disorders, but these are two names for the same disorder. Bing eating disorder is a compulsive eating disorder. Some people compulsively binge periodically, and others binge throughout the day and night. .
Commonalities among people who suffer from binge eating disorder
Low self-esteem – Individuals who suffer from binge eating disorder commonly have a low self-esteem. These individuals often picture themselves as physically and socially defective in some way, which is destructive to their emotional wellbeing. Individuals with a negative self-image may feel they are not worthy to be loved or even liked by other people.
Self-destructive thoughts – What we think about ourselves matters. We set up our lives to coincide with the thoughts we have about ourselves. Self-destructive thoughts will often induce self-destructive behaviors; some of those self-destructive behaviors may be eating behaviors.
Depression – Many individuals who suffer from a binge eating disorder are clinically depressed. The medical community teaches us that depression is thought to be an imbalance of the brain chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine. Thus, the imbalance of brain chemistry may help to induce the self-deprecating thoughts that create a never ending cycle.
Shame and guilt – Shame and guilt often goes hand in hand with an obsessive eating disorder. The emotional pain from shame and guilt is intense. An individual agonizes over the negative emotions, and the emotional pain often triggers another eating binge.
Sneak eating behaviors – Individuals who have compulsive eating disorders will often eat in secret. This behavior is largely due to shame and guilt. A sneak eater will likely hide the evidence of the eating behavior when around other people.
Hates being overweight – Many individuals who have frequent episodes of binge eating are overweight; some people with the disorder are morbidly obese and super obese. The desire or compulsion to eat is extremely strong. Anyone who has this eating disorder knows, intellectually, that weight gain is inevitable when their eating behaviors are out of control. Many individuals hate the way they look, but feel powerless to change their situation.
Physical problems – Type II Diabetes Mellitus is a common physical condition associated with people who are obese. Other health problems associated with compulsively overeating and gaining weight are back pain, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and knee pain. Other problems, such as cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) can occur over time when the body gets too large. An enlarged heart can lead to eventual heart failure. Eventually a person could die from heart and lung problems induced from heart enlargement.
Different eating behaviors – An individual with a binge eating disorder may eat moderately at times and then lose control and start binging. Compulsive eating behaviors may differ from person to person. While one person seems to lose control only during stressful times, there are other people who compulsively eat at regular meals and in between. There are other people who don’t stuff themselves compulsively, but they graze all day long. An individual who grazes may be “nibbling” continually throughout the day and night.
Whatever the eating behaviors, individuals who suffer from a compulsive eating disorder commonly feel a great deal of anxiety when they try to abstain from their eating behaviors. The mindset, of feeling helpless and without hope, can be the stumbling block to trigger more compulsive eating.
My own battle with my compulsive eating disorder
I have a compulsive eating disorder. Prior to my gastric bypass I was over 400 pounds. I was trapped in my own body. I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop my behaviors. If you don’t have the disorder, it can be very difficult to understand the compulsions we have to eat. Read below how I ate in secret and then hid the evidence:
I was fixing my husband’s lunch for him to take to work with him. I opened the box of 12 doughnuts. They were the assortment of sugar, cinnamon, and plain baked doughnuts – my favorite. I put two doughnuts in my husband’s lunch and put them back into the refrigerator. I kissed my husband and sent him off to work.
I looked out the window to make sure my husband was gone, I went to the refrigerator raided the box of doughnuts. I only took two and ate them with a glass of milk. After I was done eating, I tried to forget about the rest of the doughnuts that were waiting for me in the refrigerator. I couldn’t stop thinking of them, so I got two more. I was still craving them a few minutes later, so I just sat down and ate the rest of them.
After I had eaten 10 doughnuts I felt shame and guilt over what I had done. I was also concerned about what my husband would say when he got home and saw that there were no more doughnuts left. What did I do? I did what anyone would do. I went to the store and bought another box. Then I ate two doughnuts out of the new box, so my husband would never know I had a binging episode.
I had gastric bypass surgery in 1991 to help me lose the weight. I did lose weight. I had a significant weight loss, and I have managed to keep half of it off. I still battle with compulsive eating disorder, but on a lesser scale. I cannot binge, I cannot stuff myself anymore, but I can graze. I can eat small amounts all through the day and night.
The antidepressant, Wellbutrin, has done a lot to help me stop eating compulsively. I have control now of what I put into my mouth. I don’t graze anymore. There is hope for people with a compulsive eating disorder. Treatment options for people who compulsively overeat will be discussed in a future article.