But for the people like those in the group gathered here, the urge to overeat means something far more serious. Steps range from admitting you are powerless around food to making amends with those you have hurt through your eating issues. Participants are supported by a sponsor who has recovered and they attend meetings — like the one Sarah is sitting in.
While AA is recommended by the NHS as part of a recovery plan for alcoholism, doctors in the UK don't formally suggest OA to patients struggling with eating issues or disorders. Spotting an "overeater" can be tricky — for starters, they are not necessarily overweight.
They can be anything from morbidly obese to underweight. Binge-eating can affect anyone of any age - the meeting has participants from their early 20s to their 70s. Despite the intensity of some of the feelings shared, the atmosphere is calming, with men and women sharing smiles and supportive looks.
A woman in her 60s explains she has been abstinent - refrained from compulsive eating - since the s. During the group discussion, several of the participants describe themselves as feeling "addicted to food". She had tried everything from seeing a therapist to traditional Chinese medicine before she attended OA. She struggled with anorexia in her teens, which she tells me went hand in hand with bingeing behaviour.
Some of her worst binges were in university halls, where Hannah shared a kitchen with five other flatmates. When no one was around, she would find herself browsing her flatmates' supplies in search of a food "hit". Hannah would binge on anything she could get her hands on. After a binge, Hannah would subject herself to periods of intense exercising and controlling her diet before she would inevitably find herself bingeing again. The impact on her mental health of this constant cycle of disordered eating left her feeling desperate.
She started looking for help online and discovered Overeaters Anonymous in the comments thread of a blog. At first, Hannah wasn't convinced the 12 steps would work for her.
But, like at AA, OA members are paired with a sponsor who has experience of taking part in the programme. Step Nine - where participants are asked to make amends to those they have harmed - was particularly challenging. But she persevered. The important thing for her wasn't the outcome but clearing away her "emotional baggage" to give her the freedom to move on from her food issues.
It meant she shed her eating behaviour without even realising. Her compulsive overeating caused her uni studies to suffer, isolated her from her friends and left her self-esteem at rock bottom, she adds. She got to a point at university where she couldn't envisage her future. That was how small my existence was. Four years ago, she decided to confront her issues around eating and checked herself into a private rehab clinic.
It was here that she first came into contact with Overeaters Anonymous. After a few false starts and a relationship breakdown, she focused her efforts fully on following the programme. I honestly haven't thought of bingeing in three years.
This is perhaps unsurprising. Researchers have speculated that an abnormality of endorphin metabolism in the brain of compulsive eaters that triggers the process. This is in line with other theories of addiction that attribute it to a primary problem in the reward centers of the brain.
In the case of compulsive overeating, the ingestion of trigger foods causes release of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. This could be another sign of neurobiological factors contributing to the addictive process. Attempts to abstain from compulsive overeating may result in higher levels of depression and anxiety due to the decreased levels of serotonin. What is Compulsive Overeating? A person with compulsive overeating disorder will tend to be overweight, and is usually aware that her eating habits are abnormal.
A person who is compulsively eating will sometimes hide behind her physical appearance, using it as a shield against society; this is common in survivors of sexual abuse. Her use of food and eating is an effort to cope with these feelings, which only perpetuates the cycle of feeling these emotions and trying to find a way to cope again.
With a low self esteem and need for love and validation, she may turn to obsessive episodes of binging and eating as a way to forget the pain and the desire for affection. Even when she really wants to stop eating compulsively, she cannot arrest the disease without help no more than a person with cancer can arrest her disease without treatment.
The inability to stop using all in the face of the potentially life-threatening consequences is a hallmark of the disease of addiction. Like anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders, compulsive overeating is a medical disease that can result in irreversible health complications, including death. I now have been months free from my eating disorder They really make sure you know your skills before you leave! What are the Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive Overeating? What are the Effects of Compulsive Overeating?
It is also important for your muscles Video Course: Stop Emotional Eating. I thought about it today for the first time in year and then I read your blog. Module 5: Mind and Body Muscle Training. The odds of developing bulimia are greater for women with posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD and social anxiety disorder is also commonly found among people with an eating disorder. Cooking healthy alternatives video Chef Andrew Blake shows people how to cook healthy fish and chips, spring rolls and pancakes Food safety when cooking Most foods should be cooked to at least 75?
Left untreated, compulsive overeating can lead to serious medical conditions, including high cholesterol diabetes heart disease hypertension high blood-pressure sleep apnea temporary suspension of breathing during sleep major depression kidney disease arthritis bone deterioration stroke. Compulsive Overeating Treatment. Start the Admissions Process.