Food is everywhere! Everyone in the world is exposed to so many different types of food based on their culture and environment. However, humans react to food and consumption in various ways. Let it be known, consuming too much food every once in a while or eating for emotional reasons is quite normal. As Michelle May stated in her book Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, “From the moment we’re born, we’re nurtured with food, rewarded with food, and so emotional connections to food are normal.” Nonetheless, compulsive overeating is known as a pattern of consistent binge eating. Some people who overeat are diagnosed with a medical disorder known as binge eating disorder or BED. Although it doesn’t involve vomiting or use of laxatives which are associated with anorexia or bulimia, it is extremely dangerous and can possibly lead to obesity.
One of the psychological causes of compulsive overeating is coping with negative emotions such as guilt, shame, depression, fear, etc. These individuals feel ashamed of their eating habits and constantly think about food as a solution to other problems in their lives. If they continue the cycle of unhealthy food habits and overeating, it drastically increases the chances of obesity. Also, many studies have found that BED or compulsive overeating have been caused by dieting or fasting to lose weight. Internally, the individual has some sort of disappointment with their body size and wants to take action, but it becomes too difficult and the foods that were “off-limits” in the diet seem more appealing. Diets are known to make individuals feel less energy and increase hunger levels, so they crave food even more than normal. Disinhibition is the principle that, once the diet is officially broken, the individual will no longer be able to control consumption and begins to overeat as a result.
BED is described by the principles of
1) eating when the individual is not hungry
2) eating until it is physically uncomfortable for the individual
3) eating large amounts of food at a quick pace
4) feeling out of control with eating habits
5) emotional disgust with oneself after consumption
Food addiction has been a common topic for scientific studies and, recently, is being compared to drug addiction as a serious issue in the world. Researchers have found that specific food that contains large amounts of sugar, fat, and salt are highly addictive and cause changes in the brain similar to those made by drugs.
More importantly, it is essential to take away that dieting and fasting meals can be unsafe without proper understanding of meal plans and psychological desires. In addition, food is often used as a solution to emotional issues and treat depression. Food is viewed as a method to feel better about oneself, but it only creates an addiction that leads to dependency. If you or anyone that you know has these symptoms of BED, it is critical that you seek help from a professional to get tested for BED. The doctor will work with you to find the triggers of the overeating disorder and how it started to become an issue. Next, the doctor will schedule a meal plan to help keep you on track and eating an average amount of food on a daily basis. Psychiatry may be an option to let out emotions or exercise could help to focus on something other than eating food and helps take up time in a healthy manner. It is essential that compulsive overeating is treated as soon as possible so it doesn’t develop into a major health problem such as obesity.