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Does Compulsive Eating Stop if You Eat as Much as You Want?

Abstract: Discussion of a method of treating compulsive eating by eating everything you want. Is this a good treatment method?

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Does Compulsive Eating Stop if You Eat as Much as You Want?

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 17 Aug 2008.

Some time ago I listened to a lecture dealing with the management of compulsive eating. I am both overweight and a compulsive eater. The solution to this problem should be to eat when you want, what you want and however much you want. The body's natural hunger feelings will then regulate your eating so that you eat the proper amount. You should always keep lots of food in stock. If you eat what you want, you eat much less than if you eat something you don't want to eat.

I thought this was interesting and decided to test it. I have previously tried everything and failed. However, I have in fact gone up with this new method and I am afraid to become even fatter so my question is: If I continue, will my weight ultimately go down?

Answer:

This method intends to correct problems caused by keeping an intense diet and reacting to it by compulsive and uncontrolled eating.

I agree with two points: eating when you are hungry and going on until you are satisfied. However, I do not agree that you should eat anything you want. This is only acceptable when you are surrounded by wholesome food and today you are certainly not.

In my experience, it is much easier to help compulsive eaters to recover if they learn to eat wholesome food and give the body the nutritients it needs, and to avoid all junk food.

Compulsive eaters are often unaware of their real hunger and they tend to misinterpret unpleasant feelings as hunger. It can take a considerable time in psychotherapy to work through all those feelings which have been deadened by overeating.

There is scientific support for the idea that overweight patients and compulsive eaters eat more if they see food and it is easier for them to avoid eating if they don't have a large amount of junk food at home.

Your weight will not correct itself automatically. You must take responsibility for your eating. Eat only when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are satisfied. Try to avoid sugar and fat. If you have a craving for goodies, deserts and cakes, see if it is possible for you to eat them occasionally in small amounts, but nevertheless, try to eat at least 90 % wholesome food. If you can't stop eating sugar or something sweet, it is better to cut it out completely from your diet.

If there is something wholesome, like almonds or nuts, that makes you overeat you can try to buy large amounts of it. You will probably eat a lot the first week an then gradually eat less and less. Finally you can probably have it in your home without eating to much of it at one time.

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