Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.

Stop Compulsive Eating

How Do you Stop Compulsive Eating…and What is Compulsive Eating Anyway?

Compulsive Eating Behaviour (CEB), also known as Binge Eating Disorder, overeating, and emotional eating, is the most common and least diagnosed disordered eating pattern. Up to 70% of the population admits to overeating for emotional reasons more than once a month.

Food is the first form of nurturance and comfort most of us are familiar with, and if we don’t have the skills to deal directly with our problems, turning to food in times of need is an understandable response. Unfortunately, for many of us, it is the only form of comfort we allow, and often we undo any of the comforting benefits by punishing ourselves for needing it in the first place.

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 anymore.

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, bingeing, 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.

Here, we will help you determine if you need compulsive eating treatment and help you overcome the disorder.


how learned helplessness leads to using food to cope

The following is a brief checklist of some common behaviours of those who eat compulsively. If you are in doubt as to whether you are a compulsive eater, this list should help you find the answer.

Do You:

  • Feel a sense of lack of control over food while you are eating?
  • Eat rapidly?
  • Eat until you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Eat large amounts of food when you are not physically hungry?
  • Eat alone out of embarrassment about what or how much you are eating?
  • Feel disgusted, depressed, or very guilty after overeating?
  • Plan secret over-indulgences in advance?
  • Feel excited thinking about time alone with food?
  • Hide the “evidence” of your binges?
  • Get strong cravings for specific foods?
  • Find that eating makes you feel better?
  • Feel hurt and trapped when others suggest that you use a little will power?
  • Eat to escape worry or trouble?

If you answered yes to three or more of the above and your binges have occurred, on average, at least two days a week for the past six months, you are eating compulsively. If you experience these behaviours and purge, fast, or use excessive exercise to control your weight, please read our page on Bulimia to see if that pattern of relating to food describes you better.

We have provided this checklist, not to create distress or fear, but to assist you in identifying what is really going on in your life and to make certain that you know you are not alone in looking for ways on how to stop compulsive eating.

You can recover completely from compulsive eating and put your energy to work on things that will create a life that rewards and fulfills you. For us, there is no greater gift than supporting someone on their journey of recovery, as each of us at The CEDRIC Centre were once supported in ours. We would be honoured to be there for you.

For more information on how to stop compulsive eating, or to speak with one of our qualified counsellors, please fill out our request form.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this free offering.
The CEDRIC Centre is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants information about our compulsive eating treatment will get it. We also make sure that those who need to heal from harmful coping strategies and their own stressful relationship with food, themselves, or others can access this support regardless of their financial situation or geographic location.
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