Compulsive Overeating and Binge Eating Disorder: Are They Different?

Compulsive overeating is both its own type of eating disorder and an umbrella term for eating behaviors that are associated with a loss-of-control to food-related impulses. In this article, we’ll examine the effects of compulsive overeating and its relationship with binge eating habits.

What is Compulsive Overeating?

As outlined above, compulsive overeating is a broad term and it can refer to a number of different eating behaviors, including but not limited to: eating after you feel full, impulsive consumption of certain foods, and eating during the night. Other compulsive behaviors, such as hiding food for later or eating meals in secret, may also classify as compulsive overeating.

There are two main ways of talking about compulsive overeating as an eating disorder. In some cases, a person who experiences frequent episodes of compulsive overeating may be diagnosed with an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). However, in other cases, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies compulsive overeating as a type of binge eating disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder is a condition characterized by extreme episodic compulsions towards eating, either generally or for specific foods. The DSM-5 defines a binge eating episode to be “eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control.”

In addition to elevated feelings of stress, guilt, and shame, people with binge eating disorder typically display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Eating their food faster than needed
  • Eating well past the point of satiety
  • Eating even if they don’t feel hungry
  • Eating away from other people
  • Experiencing distress after eating
  • Experiencing addiction-like impulses towards eating
  • Experiencing a feeling of being compelled or taken over prior to binging
  • Generalized anxiety towards eating

Impacts of Binge Eating Disorder

Binging and overeating can wreak havoc on your health and body image. By far the most common impact associated with binge eating disorder is weight gain. In severe cases, binge eating disorder can even lead to the development of obesity. In addition to increasing the risk of many other medical complications, extreme weight gain due to binge eating will further undermine a person’s self-esteem and body image.

Treatment Options for Compulsive Overeating

The first step to treating compulsive overeating is reaching out to a medical professional or therapist. After taking this step, you’ll most likely begin a binge eating disorder recovery plan, featuring customized therapeutic care and nutritional counseling.

Sources: Eating Recovery Center, Timberline Knolls, Eating Disorder Hope, Psych Guides

Photo: Pixabay

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

More Articles

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

What causes someone to develop an eating disorder? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer this question. Stress, emotional trauma, cultural...

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent binging and purging, a destructive cycle that often leaves bulimic...

Laxative abuse is a common practice among people struggling with eating disorders that involve purging, such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia...

Most people find holidays stressful, but the thought of facing holidays can be overwhelming for a person with an eating disorder. If a special day...

Even though most people have some awareness of bulimia, it’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms will often manifest themselves...

Susan Dey first rose to fame in her role as a charming, innocent looking girl named Laurie Partridge on ‘The Partridge Family’, a television...

Eating disorders often do more than just affect a person’s body weight. In extreme cases, disordered eating habits can cause severe malnutrition,...

Your metabolism is the many different chemical reactions that your body undergoes to sustain your life. One of the main functions of the...

When you start treatment for an eating disorder, one of the essential goals is to learn how to make good food choices. There are two common...

Eating disorders are the most deadly of all psychological disorders. Ginging, purging, and starving oneself can have multiple effects on the body...