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When Emotional Eating Becomes an Eating Disorder

More and more people are starting to recognize that they eat in response to emotions and moods. It makes perfect sense! We are subconsciously conditioned that food makes us feel good. From the time we put our favorite foods in our mouth we get an immediate feel good endorphin release and then to top it off we also can get a feel good serotonin surge. There is no doubt about it, food feels good.

However, there is a fine line between those casual emotional eaters and a full blown eating disorder. This specific kind of eating disorder has been called a "binge eating disorder" or "compulsive overeating". This type of eating goes beyond your basic emotional eaters. So, how can you tell if you are a casual emotional eater or if you have an eating disorder?

Characteristics of a binge eating disorder:If you have any of these characteristics you may have an eating disorder.

? Regular bingeing episodes (eating large quantities of food rapidly)? Feel out of control with food? Feel obsessed about food and think about it all day? Hide food in your house so others won't see what you are eating? Eat in hiding? Get up regularly in the middle of the night to eat? Go through different fast food restaurants multiple times a day? Have experienced a traumatic event such as physical or sexual abuse

If you have some of these characteristics the most important thing is to not go on a diet and seek the appropriate help. Diets won't help in these circumstances and actually may do even further damage. Seek help through a licensed therapist who is trained in eating issues. If you are not ready for that step then here are some wonderful book resources that may be helpful for you.

Books:Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth
When Food is Love by Geneen Roth
Feeding the Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth

Geneen Roth also has workshops and audio programs you can sign up for on her website at:

Many people suffer from binge eating disorders and yet they don't know it because it is not as main-stream as bulimia and anorexia. The most important thing is to not feel shame about this and seek out the help you need so you can create a new and healthy relationship with food.

, 2005 Meri Raffetto

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian and a recognized professional in the area of nutrition and wellness.Learn about her online weight loss programs and sign up for her free monthly newsletter to receive nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more at


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