Compulsive Eating and Binge Eating
Think you might have a problem with compulsive eating? There are good resources available, but talk to your healthcare provider before you pursue them
What the research says
Many people struggle with compulsive overeating, or binge eating. Binge eating is defined by 2 features: eating what most people would consider a lot of food and feeling out of control. If this happens twice a week or more for at least 6 months, it is called binge eating disorder. Less frequent binges can still be a problem. If you think you may have a problem with binge eating, talk to your healthcare provider.
In the early research on binge eating, some experts felt that people who eat compulsively needed separate treatment for binge eating in addition to any help for weight management. More recent research has shown that weight-loss programs can help you stop binge eating.
Don't be afraid to seek help
If by this time in the program you have problems with binge eating, you may need help. If so, you may want to look into one of these resources:
- Overcoming Binge Eating by Dr. Christopher Fairburn is an excellent, thoroughly tested guide. This book brings you the best science in a format that is clear and easy to use. This is the best guide of its type available today.
- Counseling is good but more expensive. If you choose this, talk to your healthcare provider and look for someone with a specialty in eating disorders. Cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy work well for binge eating. Ask the counselor if he or she offers either of these approaches. The National Eating Disorders Association can be a good group to consult.
- Overeaters Anonymous offers strong support with a focus on compulsive eating. It uses group meetings and lets members call on a sponsor at any time, day or night. This approach has not been evaluated. Still, for some people it seems to do a lot of good.