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Compulsive eating

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
A compulsive eater is generally defined as someone who organizes thoughts and experiences around food. Nearly all of the emotions the compulsive eater experiences, including fear, guilt, anticipation, and pleasure, will generally have something to do with food. A compulsive eater keeps eating even when hunger has been satisfied, and this behavior is driven by anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger, rather than by hunger or pleasure. Generally, compulsive eaters don't get a great deal of pleasure from food because of the guilt and shame they feel after eating. They may even see their eating and weight as a symbol of their lack of self-control. They may also feel inferior or envious of others who seem to handle food better than they do. In some cases, a compulsive eater may also be a compulsive dieter. They may stick rigidly to their diet even though they're drawn to food during times of stress and anxiety, because of the fear associated with being out of control. It's not the size of the person, but rather the person's relationship to the food that determines compulsive eating behavior. However, if a person values food for its ability to gratify, comfort, defuse anger, or calm, then the person is probably eating compulsively. For more information, consult a health care professional.
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