Compulsive Overeating and Diabetes
By Sherry Ellis RN, CDE, Preventative Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Fontana
Do you often eat when you are not hungry?
Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?
have feelings of guilt and remorse after eating compulsively?
Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation
to the time when you can eat alone?
Do you plan these secret-eating binges ahead of time?
Do you eat sensibly
before others and make up for it alone?
Do you resent others telling you to "use a little willpower" to
stop eating compulsively?
Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet "on
your own" whenever you wish?
Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?
Have you ever been treated
for obesity or a food-related condition?
If you have any of these behaviors on more than an occasional basis, you
may be a compulsive overeater. Some attitudes and/or behaviors of the compulsive overeater may include:
strong desire to eat even when you are not hungry.
Continuing to eat even after hunger has been satisfied.
a sense of urgency about eating.
Eating large amounts of food or highly caloric foods in a short period of time.
Continuing to eat and not being aware that you are still eating.
Geneen Roth, a leading author in the area
of compulsive eating, states that compulsive overeating is a way for people to "numb" themselves against painful
or uncomfortable feelings or simply to escape from stress. Compulsive eaters turn to food in much the same way addicts turn
to alcohol, drugs, or gambling.
In addition to the emotional toil of guilt, remorse and feeling out of control, compulsive
eating has very real consequences for the person with diabetes. Overeating results in high blood glucose that can damage the
blood vessels and nerves over time. Overeating results in excess weight that may contribute to insulin resistance, and ultimately
may require more medication to control blood sugars. Obesity is the cause of many health problems involving the heart, blood
pressure and joints.
Breaking the diet/binge cycle caused by compulsive overeating requires a journey of self-awareness.
The individual must look inside himself or herself discover what is causing the compulsive eating. To come to this self-awareness
requires a person to learn how to observe one's own behaviors and recognize motivations around food. Self-awareness can be
achieved through a number of exercises and techniques, including delaying impulsive urges to eat and journal writing to help
Joining support groups can lend insight and help you to change your relationship with food. Learn
to listen to your body. Feed your body when it's hungry and stop eating when it has had enough food. Learn to recognize the
way food has had an overstated importance in your life. Find healthier alternatives to deal with stress and uncomfortable
feelings. Redirect all the time, energy and effort spent worrying about weight, thinking about food and trying to control
your eating into self-discovery and insight into your relationship with food. Books, tapes, workshops, and groups are available
to assist you on this journey of self-discovery. You will find a list of resources at the end of this article.
you think compulsive overeating may be a problem for you, contact your local Health Education Department. You can find out
about classes where you can learn how to manage your diabetes better or arrange an appointment with a registered dietitian
to assist you with appropriate meal planning.
Breaking Free From Compulsive
By Geneen Roth.
When Food Is Love
By Geneen Roth.
Feeding The Hungry Heart
By Hirschman and Munter
Weight Loss From The Inside Out: Help For The Compulsive
By Marion Bilich
National Center for Overcoming Overeating
P.O. Box 1257
Old Chelsea Station
York, NY 10113-0920
Breaking Free Workshops
Sponsored by Geneen Roth and Associates
Santa Cruz, CA 95063
Compulsive Eaters Anonymous
Blvd Ste 101
P.O. Box 4403
Santa Fe Springs, CA
6075 Zenith CT.
Rio Rancho, NM 87124
505-891-2664 FAX 505-891-4320