I thought I would write some information and share some ideas about COE/BED and recovery, so we can get a better understanding and hopefully support more people suffering with this disorder.
What is compulsive over eating?
Compulsive over eating (COE) is an eating disorder and is very similar to Binge Eating Disorder, (BED) and both include the sufferer eating an excessive amounts of food often when they are not hungry, but instead to fill an emotional void, cure boredom, deal with stress, or punish themselves (among other reasons.) They often feel out of control with food and struggle to eat 'normal' amounts, and feel addicted to food. Unlike Bulimia Nervosa, there are no behaviours afterwards to 'rid' the foods from the body.
For more core information, I suggest you see RYL's page on Compulsive Overeating
or SomethingFishy.org Compulsive Overeating
and Binge Eating Disorder
Is it just an issue with food?
No, sufferers of COE or BED have emotional issues with regards to food in the same way someone with Anorexia or Bulimia or EDNOS might have. They often feel out of control with their food, feel extreme guilt and shame emotions after a binge or overeating, and suffer self-image issues and low self esteem. This is often reinforced by society and the apparent negative view of overweight people, making dealing with COE or BED difficult to get help about, and people often fear facing a stigma of just being "lazy and fat".
How should I get help and go about recovery?
COE and BED are both serious eating disorders, and as such can have medical consequences including heart disease, diabetes, high cholestrol, sleep apnea [Source: Mirror Mirror
]. Speaking with a medical professional such as your doctor, a psychologist or a counsellor is a really good place to start, as there will be some underlying emotional issues that are fueling your behaviour - it isn't just about food. Enlisting professional support is a great way to get behind the cause of the problem and work things out, while getting support to do so.
That said, I've learned a few tips & tricks that help me to try and curb the amount I am eating and stop myself overeating or binging, and I thought I would share them here. Obviously, these are meant to help people who are trying not to overeat, and portion control is a big part of that, but if you are wanting to also lose weight remember that you do
need to eat, and eat regularly, to keep your blood sugar levels up.
Also these tips are not going to be much help if you're not getting emotional support to help you through what you're facing, they're merely very practical, and are only one side of the equation of these eating disorders.
Tips for avoiding overeating or binging.
1. Eat Meals Mindfully.
When you're eating a meal or a snack, eat it mindfully. This means you have to really be present
in the moment, focus on how the food tastes and how it feels, how it smells and really enjoy what you are eating. I find this is helpful for me because often I want to overeat or have seconds because I haven't really enjoyed the food to begin with, and using this method helps me think rationally
that hey, I've had enough, I enjoyed that. Which comes to the second point of -
2. Eat meals slowlly.
It takes your body time to recognise when you are full, so if you've started and finished dinner in ten minutes you might still feel hungry and go for seconds, and then soon feel bloated. Same with snacks - if you're eating crisps and eat them fast, if you go for more you're more likely to overeat because your body hasn't recognised that it's actually full. If you eat slowly your body will digest the food properly, you'll enjoy it more, and by the time you finish you can also reasonably judge if your body "needs" more. Leading on nicely to the next point.
3. Listen to your body.
Overeating or binging is often doing the complete opposite, and eating well past the point of being full and comfortable, to often being very uncomfortable and feeling rather sick. This might work if you're trying to fill an emotional void, but we need to find other ways to soothe our emotions [see below] and not use food to do so. So when you're eating, give your body a chance to express if it is hungry, or full, and listen to the signals it is sending. If it is hungry - eat! Your body needs food to function. If it is full, that's a sign you've had enough, and any more is going to be painfully felt for the next few hours, and we're here to try and reduce the pain.
4. Why are you overeating or binging? Can you substitute this behaviour for something else to get a desire outcome?
Like self harm, there's no point in taking away the action without sorting out the reason you're doing it and the release it gives you. Same with overeating or binging - it's serving a purpose for you at the moment, what do you think that is? Write it down and then brainstorm other ways you could get that same response
, but ways that are kinder to you. My example is below :) The key is then making sure you have it in writing, so when you go to over eat you know there's a written resource there for you giving you quick, easy options of something you can do instead. Give it a try, brainstorm what works for you!
5. Feel a binge coming on?
I don't know about you, but sometimes, I can feel
a binge coming on. There's a physical and an emotional reaction in me that drives the exctiment, anticipation, the lust for food that seems so strong I could eat the whole world, or my own weight in cookies at least. So what the hell do you do then? You feel like you want it, you need it, right? But do you? Why? Stopping yourself here is really important, because here you can learn that you are
in control. These are, afterall, just thoughts. Recognise when you're walking to the pantry what you're going in for and just - stop. Stand there for a bit, prolong the urge as much as possible. Every single bit of prolonging gives you more power to stop yourself. Turn away and if you can, distract yourself. Do something from your list above, come online and ask for help, call someone, go for a walk, do something immediate to get you doing something else away from the food. It can be overcome, you just need to believe it can.
6. Be kind to yourself.
Really, really important. Overcoming any eating disorder isn't going to happen over night, there will be ups & downs & twirling arounds but it doesn't mean you have to give up, or berrate yourself, your turn to a binge to make yourself feel 'better'. If you overeat, if you binge, if you're feeling **** one day - don't let it ruin your hard work and dedication to get yourself better. Treat yourself with love, respect and kindess. It all sounds very hippy, but it can really impact your feelings about yourself, and in turn, your behaviours.
This is where professional support comes in, as counsellors and psychologists can often help you learn to challenge the negative thoughts
in your head, such as reducing the catastophising and self blame, and increasing the looovvee. It's easier said than done but it works best with practice, and in the beginning it might seem like a real effort and almost fake, but if you keep working at it, soon it will be genuine self love. Be kind to yourself.
of what you are thinking and believing, and how these thoughts and behaviours are motivating your behaviour. Are they causing you to binge? If so, can you change or ignore the original thought, can you challenge it? I found it really hlepful to write out & journal my thought-challenging processes, as writing them out when I could meant that when I was on the go, challenging it almost became second nature and wasn't so hard to do. Maybe it's worth a try for you, too.
Remember to never give up on yourself, no matter how long it takes, you can get to where you want to be.
Do you have any tips or something you'd like to share about COE/BED? Post it here if you do :)
& See also: Tips to Help Stop/Prevent a Binge