What is a Compulsive Eater?
If you find yourself here, then it is likely you are wondering what a compulsive eater is, and if you might be one. We cannot tell you whether or not you are a compulsive eater, but here are questions that can help you to decide for yourself if you, just like us, might be struggling with compulsive eating and/or compulsive food behaviors that can include undereating, food restricting, anorexia, body dysmorphia, poor body image, bulimia, bingeing and purging, overeating, binge eating, obesity, nighttime eating, and other disordered eating and shameful food behaviors or body issues.
- Are you obsessed with food?
- Are you asking yourself if you should eat, or not eat? (Are you disconnected from your body and physical hunger cues?)
- Are you eating in response to head hunger (feelings and emotions) rather than actual physical hunger?
- Are you isolating and feeling as if no one can relate?
- Are you trying to hide the fact that food dominates your thoughts?
- Do you obsess over any reflection of yourself (such as when you pass a mirror)?
- Does the number on your scale affect the way you see yourself or the way you feel about yourself?
- Do you completely avoid weighing yourself or being weighed at the doctor’s office? Or, do you frequently jump on the scale, concerned with what the number might be, and obsess about what you can do to change it?
- Are you feeling powerless over food and unable to control the way you eat?
- Does it feel like this “food obsession” has taken over your life?
- When you look with complete honesty at your life, where eating is concerned, have you acted in an extremely irrational and self-destructive manner?
- Under the compulsion to overeat, have you done things no sane person would think of doing?
- In the dead of the night, or when you could (or should) have been doing other things, have you driven miles to satisfy a craving for
food, and gone to extremes to hide the evidence of having eaten?
- Have you eaten food that was frozen, burnt, stale, or even dangerously spoiled?
- Have you eaten off of other people’s plates, off the floor, and off the ground?
- Have you dug food out of the garbage and eaten it?
- Have you frequently lied about what you have eaten – to yourself, and to others – because you didn’t want to face the truth about what you do when it comes to food?
- Have you stolen money to buy food or have you directly stolen food?
- Have you eaten beyond the point of being full – beyond the point of being sick of eating?
- Have you continued to overeat, knowing all the while you were disfiguring and maiming your body?
- Have you isolated yourself to eat, damaging your relationships and denying yourself a full social life?
- Have you turned yourself into an object of ridicule?
- Are you fighting feelings of helplessness, loneliness, or unworthiness and distracting yourself with food?
- Are you trying to do everything perfectly and holding yourself to impossibly high standards, then punishing yourself with food (stuffing yourself or starving yourself) for not being perfect?
- Have you destroyed your health, or are you on the road to doing so?
- Have you become obsessed with diets because you are horrified by what you are doing with food?
- Have you spent lots of time, money, and energy on weight-loss schemes?
- Have you purchased, or tried, all sorts of appetite-suppressants?
- Have you joined a number of diet clubs and fitness centers?
- Have you had yourself hypnotized and analyzed in the hopes of putting the thoughts of food away?
- Have you had major surgery on your digestive system, or had your ears stapled, or your jaws wired shut in an effort to stop the madness around food?
- Have you ever hoped beyond hope that you could still eat all you wanted and be free of the compulsion?
- Have you gone from doctor to doctor, diet guru to diet guru, looking for a cure to your food obsession?
- Have you dieted only to regain every pound lost?
- Have you sought out doctors willing to prescribe special concoctions, shots, or pills, only to find that while they may have worked for a while, you inevitably lost control and overate again, regaining all the weight that had been lost – and then adding even more excess pounds?
- Have you tried fasting, with and without the supervision of a physician, and lost weight, but as soon as you started eating again, the compulsive eating behavior returned, along with the weight?
- Have you learned to purge with vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise?
- Have you damaged your digestive system and your teeth while you starved your body of nutrients you needed to live?
- Have you been so terrified of gaining weight, that you went to great lengths to restrict what you ate?
- Have you refused to eat certain food, developed complex rituals around food, or tried to avoid eating whenever possible?
- Have loved ones, friends and physicians told you that you were too thin, but you thought they were overreacting?
- Has your weight dropped down, sometimes to dangerously low levels, yet you still felt “fat?”
- Have you sourced, or received, nearly endless advice from others about how to get to your “ideal” size, only to find that nothing permanently solved your problem?
- Have you found that no matter what you did to ease your turmoil around food, your compulsive eating behavior eventually returned?
- Have you become weary and discouraged from battling with your weight, only to discover that it is your self-esteem that has dropped, not the weight?
- Is it difficult for you to accept your powerlessness around food and compulsive food behaviors?
- Has the prospect of being obsessed with food and weight, feeling sick, and out of control for the rest of your life led you to conclude that life is simply not worth living?
- Have you ever thought about suicide or attempted it?
- Do you take some comfort in a feeling that everything will be all right as long as you get enough to eat?
- Have you eaten only to find that nothing is enough – that you are never full or satisfied?
- Do you find that the more you eat, the more you suffer, yet you continue to overeat?
- Do you keep right on trying to find comfort in excess food, long after it has begun to cause you misery?
- Regardless of the consequences, have you acted insanely where food and weight are concerned?
- Do you confine your compulsive eating to the hours when you are alone and attempt to carry on as if your life and behavior around food is normal?
- Have you worked hard during the day, only to reward yourself by eating hard at night, and often, well into the wee hours of the morning?
- Have you reassured yourself that you were “sane” in most respects, and attempted to ignore or deny what was going on with food?
- Do you live in fear and anxiety because of your weight or how you are around food?
- Are you more comfortable with food than with people?
- Are you limiting your social life because of your worries over your weight or your obsession with food?
- Have you closed the curtains, stopped answering the phone, and hidden in your house because of your compulsive eating or weight fears?
- When you are around other people, do you smile and agree with whatever they have to say, when you really want to say no?
- Are you unable to stand up for yourself in abusive relationships, or have you come to believe you deserve the abuse?
- Are you focused on the faults of others, consuming hours of thought on what they should do to solve their problems,
while allowing your own problems to go unsolved?
- Have you overreacted to slight provocations while ignoring the real issues in your life?
- Are you obsessively busy, then exhausted and unable to act?
- Do you find yourself wildly excited and then deeply depressed, swinging from one emotion to the other, because of your food obsession?
- Do you view the whole world in “black and white” extremes?
- Do you believe that if you cannot have it all, then you do not want any?
- Do you find that if you cannot be the best, then you do not want to participate?
- Can you see how much pain your way of life is causing you and those who love you?
- Do you believe that you need to change, but you do not know how, and wonder if this is simply how it will always be, forever and ever?
If you said “yes” to more than a few of these questions, or if you have ever felt like us – that food was taking over your life – then you might be a compulsive eater.
View a Video About the Disease of Compulsive Eating
Should you find that you still have questions, we encourage you to check with a trusted family member, physician, or therapist, and take a few more minutes to view one (or more) of our short public service announcements (PSAs) to see if what you’re eating (or not eating) is what’s really eating you.
If you recognized yourself in any of the videos, then you owe it to yourself to give us a call at (408) 940-6278 or send email to newtoOA@oasv.org. We are here to help!
At OASV we have a solution that not only addresses the obsession with food, but that offers a design for living that really works – and we have no dues or fees for membership!
To quickly get to any part of the “Getting Started” menu, see links below:
- We’re glad you’re here
- You’re Not Alone!
- There Is A Solution!
- Ask yourself the 15 qualifying questions
- Still Not Sure If You’re A Compulsive Eater?
- Our Invitation to You
- Tools of Recovery
- Twelve Steps
- Inspired Recovery
- Recovery from Relapse
- OA Bookstore