My Battle with Compulsive Eating

Today was the first time in a long time that I didn't eat for the sake of eating. Because the clock said it was meal time. Because there was food within reach that might otherwise go to waste. Because I felt compelled to eat something (anything)

Today is also the first time in a long time that I felt absolutely comfortable putting these feelings into words for you to see. I've addressed this before ( Read more here) but have since continued to deal with the issue, mostly in silence and to some extent denial.

I battle with compulsive eating.

I used to think of it as overeating, something I had complete control over (if I really wanted to), but I have come to realize it is so much more then that. The difference, at least in my own estimation, is that overeating is something we all do from time to time, when the spread of food before us is delicious and we can't resist a second helping. Think Christmas or a backyard BBQ. On the other hand compulsive eating is the need to eat to fill some void (boredom, stress, sadness). The consumables are far less important then the act of consuming itself. There is a loss of self-control. Its a compulsion, in the most clear sense of the word.

com.pul.sion Psychology . a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one's will. Source

The sheer magnitude of what I have been dealing with for years hit me when, tears streaming down my cheeks, I likened the need to eat during these episodes to an alcoholic's need to drink. I went so far to suggest that I have watched people eat small portions of some of my trigger foods* and have wondered how it was possible for them to stop themselves, something that seemed so damn near impossible for me. It was that moment and the look on The Boyfriend's face (the witness to this particular revelation) that made me realize that this is, without a doubt, a problem.
I have run the gauntlet of emotions when it comes to this issue:
Anger, frustration and resentment (Why me?!?)
Shame and embarassment at the lack of control and the inability to put an end to it sooner
Fear that it would continue to spiral out of control
Hopeless that I will ever overcome it completely
Uncertain that anyone will understand and worried that people will judge me
Determined that I wouldn't let this battle get the best of me
 I wish I could say that this was the post to announce that I have passed through the hardest parts and that I am on my way to recovery. Instead I am still on that journey, forging ahead with every day that goes by. The first step was realizing the problem and I have finally come to terms with this disorder, which is one that I do not suffer alone. And in realizing what I am up against and that I am not alone in this, I am on my way to getting better one day at a time.
I expect less than perfect days ahead. Polarizing days into good and bad is how I got here in the first place. So on those days where I slip up and binge I will remember that I can move on from it and still be well on my way to a better place physically, mentally and emotionally.
Currently I am working through the e-book Taking Action: 30 Specific Strategies for Overcoming Emotional Eating a resource that has proved helpful in my quest to better understand the issue. The next step is to commit to the resolution and to begin to take the steps necessary to get there.
This won't be the last post on the topic as there are a million ideas running through my mind with respects to my experiences with it. That being said I will leave it here for now. I'm legitimately hungry and if there is one thing I already understand it is that listening to my body's hunger cues is crucial to making compulsive eating a thing of the past.
Thank you for letting me share this with you.
*a particular food that will bring on a binge or be incorporated in a binge. For me it is typically crackers and chips or other snack-type foods

So tell me, is there anything about this post that resonates with you?


  1. Um, yes! I just wrote a post last night about my late night over snacking. Another post I read earlier today talked about using eating as a coping method. I think it's really great that we are coming out and saying this in the open, because we shouldn't feel like we should hide and be ashamed.

  2. As I read this, I fought back my own tears. I have dealt (and sometimes still deal) with compulsive eating. I've looked at others slowly eating their food, enjoying each bite and compare them to myself, someone who eats quickly and does it just for the sake of eating. I find food comforting and it makes me happy - then it just makes me sad.

    I can't recall too many binging episodes recently, but I do know they always involved a trigger food (for me, salty foods, like pretzels, crackers, chips, and french fries). I dare myself to keep them in a pantry and try to forget about them, but it's hard. I would find myself trying to engage in other things, but my mind would be on those stupid crackers. So - you are not alone Samantha!

    I'm currently tracking my food right now and I find that it helps me keep balance. I don't obsess over the amounts and making sure my numbers are perfect. It has been helping me keep a grip on how many calories I take in and now I stop and think "Am I really hungry?".

    Hang in there and please let me know if you need someone to talk to - email me anytime!

  3. Oh yes, this post resonated with me. I work really hard to eat for the right reasons, and make healthy choices. I hate feeling "out of control", and the way I feel after. I am pretty regimented about what I eat, because I get anxious that I might find myself face down in the pantry, surrounded by wrappers.

    Okay, maybe not quite that, but I work every day to keep things on track. For me, I'm looking at improvements, not perfection. I now compulsively eat about 1-2x/month, instead of 5-6x/week. That's good for me now, and I am always looking for new strategies to help with this.

  4. Definitely resonates with me. I snack like a monster. I know what foods I should not have in the house because I can not stop snacking on it. We currently have that snack in the house, and it's bad. I knew better, but I wanted the Hubs to have it bc he likes it...but I definitely knew better. It's hard to hide a snack from yourself. That's for sure.

    I'm looking forward to more posts.

  5. This definitely resonates with me - I definitely have issues with compulsive eating, but luckily it's gotten much better over the last couple of years. for me, it's less about mood - I think - and more about availability and accountability. What I mean by that is I tend to compulsively eat when no one is around - when my husband is out running an errand or has already gone to bed. I recognize this now though and have been doing much better about stopping myself.

    Thanks for sharing - you're definitely not alone!

  6. I'm sorry you are struggling with this! I do think when I was younger I used to eat my feelings -- in that if I had a particularly bad day or I was angry I would devour an entire bag of chips or pig out on fast food. I've definitely worked through my issues with food over the years and it hasn't been until recently that something clicked and I realized it didn't have to be all or nothing. I wish I could offer up some advice or tell you it's all going to be OK! But the best I can do is say I'm always up for supporting you and cheering you through the good times AND the bad. Thanks for sharing your story - just know you are never alone!

  7. Uhhhh... Yes, this resonates. As I read your post I was both a little nervous and relieved at the same time. Does that make sense? I thought I was over my "compulsive eating" but I'm beginning to realize that I'm just in denial (again) about it. You've given me much to think about today. Please keep writing about this -- it's helping more that just yourself.

  8. Love how open and honest you are. I think addressing it is the hardest step! Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts along this journey!

  9. This is a great post. I hope you keep sharing your journey. I had to stop reading blogs because everyone seemed so perfect when it came to healthy eating. It was a real trigger for me. This post is the first one I've read in probably a month. Thanks so much!

  10. It is awesome that you are open and honest. That is the first part of healing from this. I have experienced this myself and found out the major reason for it, was that I was not getting enough food throughout the day to meet my body's needs, due to a busy schedule and not making balanced meals a priority. Only for nighttime to have uncontrollable urges for anything sweet and carbs.In fact, I was viewing foods as "forbidden" and caught up in a diet mentality of good and bad foods. ONly to feel deprived and resentful. I work with women who have eating disorders and you can visit my blog at www.becomfortablewithme.com for more support : )

  11. This was a really honest and truthful post: I have struggled with emotional eating for years, and its so hard to break out of. But as other posts have said, being open about it is the first step I think, and accepting that its not something that you have to hide. I always used to feel that it made me a failure somehow, that it was a shameful secret, but actually lots of people are struggling in the same way.
    Two books I found really helpful and cannot recommend more highly are "Breaking Free of Emotional Eating" and "Women, Food and God" both by Geneen Roth. They're amazing. The first gives a step by step guide of how to break free, and the second is a more psychological insight. It doesn't have anything to do with any particular God, but its about how we view ourselves, and she articulates things and put what I was feeling into words when I could not. Highly recommended!!

  12. And I thought I was alone on this...thank you for this post, Samantha. I would love to know how you've been able to deal with this and some methods or things that help you as I am currently going through this now...and it sucks! Thanks for being open with this...

  13. It’s been more than a year since this post. How are you now? But judging by your post here, I think that you are on your way to recovery. And I’m sure that you are close to winning the battle. Dealing with food addiction or compulsive eating is a difficult journey. You will experience lots of struggles and downtime. But remember that everything can be done with the right amount of conviction and belief – belief that you can overcome and control the situation. In the end, you can see that all those struggles are worth it.