Most everyone overeats on occasion. If you have compulsive overeating disorder, also called binge eating disorder, however, you consume excessive amounts of calories repeatedly, feel as though you can't stop and likely experience shame, poor self-esteem and depression. Binge eating disorder it the most common eating disorder in America, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In addition to psychotherapy and perhaps medications, a diet that supports your recovery is important.
An appropriate diet for compulsive overeating aims to normalize your eating behaviors while providing sufficient amounts of calories and nutrients. To keep food cravings at bay, which may trigger binge eating episodes, eat balanced meals and snacks that promote blood sugar balance and satiation. While diet is not intended as sole treatment for compulsive overeating disorder, it is an important component of a multifaceted treatment plan that addresses your emotional, behavioral and physical health.
Your diet should meet the needs of a basic healthy diet by supplying healthy foods from all necessary food groups, including complex carbohydrates, lean protein sources and healthy fats. Incorporate raw vegetables into your meals to prolong eating times and high-quality protein sources for enhanced satiation. Dish appropriate amounts of food onto your plate, and eat slowly in a pleasurable eating atmosphere for improved portion control and reduced anxiety. Staying properly hydrated, preferably through ample water intake, is also important.
Even if you're actively struggling with compulsive overeating, making sure you reap proper amounts of nutrients is important -- particularly if you consume primarily sweets, starches and/or greasy foods during binges. To increase your nutrient intake, eat more fruits and vegetables. Since juices and sweetened canned or dried fruit may offset your blood sugar and are less satiating, consume fresh, colorful varieties most often. For improved energy, digestive function and cholesterol levels, choose whole grains over enriched breads, cereals, pasta and snack foods. Oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa and air-popped popcorn are examples of fiber-rich, nutritious whole-grain foods. Choose lean, high-quality protein sources, such as skinless white-meat poultry, egg whites, low-fat dairy products, fish and legumes over fatty red and processed meats. Healthy fat sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, avocados and oily fish, such as salmon.
Challenges and Solutions
Excess body weight and obesity are potential complications of compulsive overeating. While you may be tempted to try weight loss diets, they may trigger binge behaviors, according to MayoClinic.com. Aim for normalizing your eating patterns before attempting weight loss. In some cases, weight loss occurs as a natural byproduct of no longer binging. If your doctor approves or recommends weight loss, seek guidance from a qualified professional, such as a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, is common among people who binge compulsively. Since this too can lead to overeating, stick to a routine eating schedule that includes three meals plus snacks. Planning your meals ahead, keeping a food diary that tracks your food intake and notes regarding your emotions and plotting strategies, such as calling a friend or going for a walk when the urge to binge arises, can also help. If you do fall off the wagon and binge, do your best to forgive yourself and move on.
- "Nutrition and Diet Therapy"; Linda K. DeBruyne, Kathryn Pinna, Eleanor Noss Whitney; 2007
- MayoClinic.com: Binge-Eating Disorder: Lifestyle and Home Remedies
- Weight-control Information Network: Binge Eating Disorder