We are eating compulsively when we feel we have lost control of our relationship with food. We can no longer stop eating when we choose. We often feel compelled to eat until we physically can’t eat any more. We focus more and more psychological and physical energy on losing weight, and on negative thoughts about ourselves (I am weak, I have no willpower), and about our body (I am fat and unattractive). This cycle of restriction, binging, and guilt is compulsive eating behaviour.
When we eat compulsively, it is hard to see that binge eating is serving a very useful purpose. While we are eating, we are able to focus solely on food and weight. For that brief moment, we don’t have to worry about any feelings or experiences in life that are scary, overwhelming, or out of our control. It may feel foreign to acknowledge that the painful and frustrating relationship we have with food really is serving a purpose for us. The truth is that until we find an alternative method of addressing life’s stresses and our need for comfort, we will always come back to food.