People with compulsive overeating typically eat excessive amounts of food—but not because they’re hungry. Instead, they eat to feel better, to feel happy. The opposite happens. They feel a loss of control, as if they have no willpower. And the eating begins again.
Compulsive Overeating Is Not About Hunger
People with compulsive overeating may sometimes eat in binges, but they may also engage in “grazing” behavior, picking at food throughout the day. They may excessively dwell on thoughts about food, sometimes secretly fantasizing about eating and contriving ways to eat alone.
Compulsive overeating often leads to weight gain and obesity, but not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive overeater; people of normal or average weight also struggle with compulsive overeating. Psychological illnesses as well as physical medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, often add complexity to the unhealthy behavior.
Compulsive Overeating Warning Signs
This eating disorder is often entwined with other issues that threaten emotional and physical health. Some indications include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Personality disorder
- Withdrawal from social situations or events