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The Habit of Overeating and Dieting

 

Food is essential to our survival on several levels. What we consume supplies us with important nutrients to sustain energy and hydration. However, we have to choose wisely to eat food that can nourish us instead of hurting us.

 

Our bodies have learned to preserve energy and store it very efficiently. However, the recent availability of  various unhealthy food supply has triggered a massive amount of people suffering from obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

 

This then lead to the basic energy equation: calories taken in cannot exceed what is being expended if we are not going to going to gain weight. We have to maintain a consistent weight and to eat balanced meals with the right ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins on regular basis.

Our body is constantly burning calories even if we are sleeping or sitting still. When we exercise or engage in other activities, our metabolism increases and we need more energy to maintain our strength. Children and adolescent, who are growing quickly have a higher metabolic rate; they need more energy to build tissue, bones, and cells for their body development.

 

A person with compulsive overeating disorder will tend to be overweight, and is usually aware that her eating habits are abnormal. Seeking emotional comfort in food exposes her to society’s tendency to stereotype the overweight individual. Words like, “just go on a diet” can be emotionally devastating to a person suffering from compulsive overeating, as it is not so much an issue with food consumption as with methods of living life on life’s terms and healthfully coping with emotional stresses.

 

A person with symptoms of compulsive overeating has what can be characterized as an addiction to food. She uses food and eating as a way to hide from or manage her emotions, to fill a void she feels inside, or to cope with daily stresses and problems in her life.

Signs and symptoms of compulsive overeating include:

  • binge eating, or eating uncontrollably even when not physically hungry

  • eating much more rapidly than normal

  • eating alone due to shame and embarrassment

  • feelings of guilt due to overeating

  • preoccupation with body weight

  • depression or mood swings

  • awareness that eating patterns are abnormal

  • history of weight fluctuations

  • withdrawal from activities because of embarrassment about weight

  • history of many different unsuccessful diets

  • eating little in public, but maintaining a high body weight

  • holding the belief that life will be better if they can lose weight

  • hiding food in strange places (closets, cabinets, suitcases, under the bed)

  • vague or secretive eating patterns

  • self-defeating statements after food consumption

  • holding the belief that food is their only friend

  • weight gain

  • loss of sexual desire or promiscuous relations

  • fatigue

 

Compulsive overeating produces emotional, psychological and physiological side effects that can dramatically compromise one’s quality of life and hope for the future.

When a compulsive over eater consumes excessive amounts of food it can produce a euphoric feeling similar to that experienced through drug usage. They feel a temporary release from psychological stress and a diversion from feelings of sadness, shame, loneliness, anger or fear. Researchers have speculated that an abnormality of endorphin metabolism in the brain of compulsive eaters that triggers the process.

Left untreated, compulsive overeating can lead to serious medical conditions, including:

  • high cholesterol

  • diabetes

  • heart disease

  • hypertension (high blood-pressure)

  • sleep apnea (temporary suspension of breathing during sleep)

  • major depression

  • kidney disease

  • arthritis

  • bone deterioration

  • stroke