Compulsive overeating: food abuse and addiction

Binge eating is a type of addiction in which the affected person experiences periods of compulsive overeating (Without the posterior purgative behavior characteristic of bulimia nervosa) ingestion of a large amount of caloric foods in a short period of time.

It is mainly based on the appearance and maintenance of food addiction, which usually begins in adolescence, and the fact that all eating disorders are more common in women than in men.

Overeating episodes: why are they addiction?

We understand addiction through that process in which the person feels totally dominated and enslaved by the desire to use.

It is experienced as something uncontrollable; no matter how much the person uses his will, he ends up entering a state similar to that of depersonalization, 1 numbness of his rational faculties and a split thereof, generating in the individual a state of sleepwalking with a single destination : the refrigerator, the place where it will satisfy the impulses produced by food addiction.

What are the causes of binge eating?

Neuroscience attributes this disorder to an imbalance of the brain’s reward centers. By eating compulsively, the person abnormally releases certain neurotransmitters linked to the feeling of well-being (dopamine yserotonin) which causes them to “stick” to certain foods, in particular foods high in calories, high in sugar, flour and salt.

That would explain the maintenance of the behavior but … what is the trigger? Is it a disorder in itself … or is it a symptom, a clue, a pathological correction of a more hidden and unknown process? What kind of gaps is the person who tries to fill everything to the end trying to fill? Does he “swallow” his own emotions in the face of the impossibility of expressing himself in an assertive manner?

Many hypotheses can be made in this regard, but as is always the case in psychotherapy, it must be considered on a case-by-case basis and person by person to know the concrete causes that lead to complusive overeating.

What are the consequences of compulsive eating?

Once the ritual of binge eating motivated by food addiction has been completed, the person is likely to generate feelings of guilt and shame, As well as repentance of not being able to deal with the situation.

In the long term, the person will develop what are called in psychology expectations of uncontrollability; following a series of failures, the person will appear consciously or unconsciously as the belief that there is no contingency between the efforts he makes and the results he obtains. Despite the different strategies used, he ends up performing the action over and over again that he tries so hard to avoid.

The expectation of uncontrollability

The expectation of uncontrollability leads the person to pass from a state of frustration and anger to a state of hopelessness, passivity, believing that nothing can be done to change the situation (see the learned theory of impotence by Seligman). This can lead to dysthymic or depressive states, or crystallize existing disorders, as binge eating disorder has a strong comorbidity with other psychological disorders such as depression, mood disorders or non-achievement.

In addition to the psychological consequences, the malnourished person will develop other symptoms related to various areas of the body, such as overweight, obesity, diabetes, chronic fatigue or sleep disorders.

Self-esteem will also clearly be affected, as the sense of self-efficacy will decrease after each uncontrolled binge. Due to food addiction, the person may feel weak, helpless and disabled, And generate a whole host of negative thoughts towards yourself that will only make the problem chronic.

How to fight against food addiction?

The main challenge in overcoming this disorder and any other type of disorder is for the person to re-believe in himself and to learn behavioral dynamics other than those that link them to an unhealthy lifestyle.

It is imperative that you realize that the uncontrollability you feel is just an illusion, Who has all the power to make decisions, even if he does not have the right tools for it.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended to be accompanied by a well-trained professional who acts in two aspects. On the one hand, we must work on the compulsive symptoms to correct and eradicate them, and on the other hand must seek the causes of this behavior to uproot the initial pathology.

Going to a specialist is a must

Those who feel identified with the symptoms described should remember that vulnerability is a temporary condition, never a descriptive characteristic of the personality.

for that it is necessary to emphasize the fact that anyone has the ability to solve the problem go immediately to a qualified specialist with whom to treat the fight against food addiction. In this way, it will be possible to start making the right decisions that will lead to the improvement of one’s own well-being.

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