A reader asked for tips on stopping compulsive eating. I too am an emotional eater, so I’m not sure if I’m the best or worst person to give advice!
Here’s what fluffylove says:
“I hate my body and have been a compulsive overeater for 20 years. is it too long? am i too late to fix it and get healthy?” – from 5 Tips for Building a Healthy Body Image.
No, I definitely don’t think you’re too late to get help for your compulsive eating. But, I think you need to stop thinking of it in terms of something that needs to be “fixed” – because you may never be totally over your compulsion to eat.
Hang on to the fact that you’re not all alone
Feeling like you’re the only one who struggles with compulsive eating will make it worse. You need to realize that overeating is a very common struggle for millions of women (and men), and we turn to food for normal reasons. Food has been a source of comfort and security for billions of years, and your compulsion to eat is simply an exaggerated version of a very normal human tendency.
You’re not alone, my friend. And, you’re not any worse or better off than me or your coworker or your sister or anyone who struggles with a food addiction. We’re all fighting the same battle – and the more honest and real we are, the more quickly we’ll heal and be happy.
It’s a daily struggle – you don’t just stop compulsive eating
I rarely succumb to my temptation to devour bags of potato chips, cartons of ice cream, and boxes of cookies. I am healthy and I feel healthy. I feel good about about my size and shape. That said, however, I still struggle with the temptation to sink into the comfort of food almost every single day.
Even the healthiest, fittest women struggle with unhealthy habits. Maybe it’s smoking, shopping, gambling, drug addiction, or food addiction. Once you’ve been addicted to something, such as compulsive eating, you never really “get over it.” That’s why alcoholics refer to themselves as alcoholics, even if they’ve been dry for 25 years. Compulsive eating is an addiction or obsession, and it’s not easy to just “fix” it. It’s a daily struggle – a daily temptation.
If you tend to overeat (or binge and purge) at night, read 7 Best Ways to Stop Eating at Night – From Blindfolds to Gum.
You can’t overcome the compulsion to eat if you go at it alone
If there are any secret tips to stopping compulsive overeating, the first one would be to get help. Again, that’s why alcoholics have regular (sometimes daily) group meetings – because there is strength in solidarity.
I saw a counselor for a year when I lived in Africa. We didn’t focus too much on my compulsive overeating and bulimia. More, we discussed ways for me to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy. She helped me work through some of the things that had been bothering me for years (demons haunting me) - those were the issues that drove me to food.
If you want to stop compulsive eating, you need to find either an eating disorders specialist, a counselor, or an eating disorders support group. It’s important to reveal your struggles, to discuss your reasons for overeating. The monster who stays hidden is always, always worse than the monsters who are revealed.
Find something you’re passionate about!
If you love doing something – some activity or event – you can more easily distract yourself from the urge to eat compulsively. For instance, I have almost 1,000 articles on this blog, and about 500 of them have broken links. Many more need to be rewritten or updated. Not to mention my five other Quips and Tips blogs! I love my blogs, and have learned that if I binge and purge, I’m robbing myself of valuable blogging time.
What do you love to do – or what have you always wanted to learn? I started playing the flute six months ago, and have found that it’s in direct opposition to my urge to compulsively eat. That is, if I spend the evening binging, then I miss out on practicing my flute. This seriously bothers me, and disrupts the drive to reach for the carton of ice cream.
I believe that food addiction stems from feelings of guilt, shame, self-hatred, and perfectionism. If you struggle with negative feelings towards yourself, read Overcoming Self-Hatred – How to Forgive Yourself and Start Fresh.
What stops you from compulsively overeating? Comments welcome below…