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Online Therapy for Overeating

Phi Atratus
  • Apr 26, 2022
  • 5 min read
young lady eating healthily

Food is always present in our lives. It plays an essential role in our health, as it provides the nutrients we need for growth and gives us the energy we need throughout the day. We even have our “food trips” once in a while to explore something new and satisfy our taste buds.

Unfortunately, while many of us have normal eating habits, some of us struggle with compulsive overeating, also known as overeating. Roughly 2% of the worldwide population experience it, and 8% of obese people are engaged in such eating behavior.

Uncontrollable eating behavior and obsession with food characterize compulsive overeating. Overeating is when people give in to their food addiction and feel guilty afterward. They think of it as their way of coping with stress, but in reality, it just makes things worse.

People dealing with overeating often seek help from mental health professionals to address their eating habits, while others suffer alone and in silence. If you’re among the latter, it’s essential for you to know that there are ways to learn how to stop overeating, such as seeking professional help in the form of medication or engaging in therapy for overeating, be it face-to-face or online counseling.

This article will help you understand the symptoms and causes of overeating and how therapy can help you overcome it.

Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive Overeating

The symptoms of overeating are a combination of physiological and psychological aspects. It can manifest in one’s way of thinking and behavior. How do you know if you’re overeating? Let’s look at the signs and symptoms associated with compulsive overeating:

  • You eat more food frequently and consistently compared to the average person.
  • You continue to eat even after feeling full.
  • You often have unsuccessful diet plans because your desire to eat more is more powerful than controlling your eating habits.
  • You feel guilty and disgusted after consuming a lot of food.
  • You’re starting to hide food in secret places, like under your bed or inside the cabinet.
  • You prefer to eat alone so that others won’t see your food consumption or how frequently you eat.
  • You are preoccupied with food and your body weight most of the time.
  • You have diminished excitement over the things that once interested you.

Though the symptoms and early warning signs of compulsive overeating are somewhat similar to binge eating disorder, certain features make them differ. For example, a binge eater usually consumes a large amount of food in just one sitting, while a compulsive eater can eat in small portions from time to time. However, research shows that eating compulsively can eventually lead to binge eating disorder if not clinically addressed.

What Causes Compulsive Overeating?

There’s no single cause for the development of compulsive overeating, but contributing factors lead to such eating habits:

  • History of food deprivation. Lack of food resources early in life can affect your view on food and eating. Growing up in an environment where children are deprived of their essential needs can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food. Thus, they are more likely to develop overeating disorders in later stages of life.
  • Environmental causes. Growing up or being in an environment where food is always present can also contribute to compulsive overeating. In addition, individuals working or living in a place where food and dieting are the central themes are more likely to overeat from time to time.
  • Biological causes. Certain neurotransmitters in our brain are involved in eating disorders, controlling our mood, appetite, and memory. Low serotonin levels, for example, are linked to the development of eating disorders.
  • Psychological causes. People with depression and other mood disorders are more prone to overeating, as they may resort to such eating behaviors as their coping method. In addition, stress can cause emotional eating, which eventually leads to overeating disorder over time.
  • Family background. Individuals who have family members struggling with compulsive overeating are at greater risk of developing food addiction. 

Why Does Compulsive Overeating Require Treatment?

We occasionally overeat during special occasions, such as attending parties and other gatherings. However, if your overeating behavior is starting to affect your physical and mental health, it’s time you consider seeking treatment.

The effects of overeating are long-term, and several health risk factors may worsen if left untreated, such as:

  • Heart problems. Eating too many fats and carbs now and then may raise your risk of heart attack or stroke. If not treated, overeating may lead to more severe illness and other complications, such as heart failure and aneurysm.
  • Obesity. Frequent overeating also contributes to the development of evident weight gain. Such eating compulsion in response to obsession with food might increase one’s risk of becoming overweight and obese.
  • High blood pressure. Overeating can also lead to hypertension due to calorie consumption from unhealthy food. As a result, your blood pressure is likely to rise, and you're more prone to developing other illnesses, such as diabetes.
  • Other mental disorders. According to studies, compulsive overeating is highly associated with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Some overeating episodes can even be part of an existing mental health condition. Such eating behavior can also lead to binge eating and other eating disorders.

Skipping meals is not good for our health, and so is eating more than we should. The effects of overeating are complex, but recovery is possible through proper treatment. This can include medication and in-person or online counseling.

Reaching out to mental health professionals and medical doctors for overeating treatment is not a weakness – but a wise decision to make for your own health.

Compulsive Overeating Treatment Options

It’s easy to say that all you have to do is control your food consumption and then – problem solved! But in reality, recovering from overeating is more complex than that. That’s why it requires the application of different self-help methods, therapeutic techniques, therapy for overeating, and medication.

The following are proven ways to address your overeating behavior effectively:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Many studies provide strong evidence for the benefits of using CBT in treating various disorders, such as overeating disorders. This type of therapy addresses dysfunctional beliefs to produce a behavioral change.

For example, since overeating is characterized by an obsession with food followed by the compulsion to eat, the therapist will work on your thoughts associated with the overeating episodes. CBT also involves the use of different techniques throughout your therapy sessions. For example:

  • Cognitive restructuring. In this technique, the therapist challenges your thinking about how you view yourself and your body in relation to your overeating behavior. It will help replace your unhealthy thoughts about food with healthy ones and help you see the situation’s clearer picture.
  • Homework assignments. Under CBT, the therapist also gives tasks to work on outside the therapy sessions. For example, you can write your own “food diary” to help monitor your eating habits. This technique places responsibility on you as a client and allows you to engage collaboratively with your therapist.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Do you tend to eat frequently when you’re stressed or under pressure? In DBT, you’ll learn practical skills for coping with adverse situations instead of overeating. This technique is one part of the stress management programs under CBT, where you’ll develop healthy habits to help with your recovery.

Online therapy

Online therapy is widely used these days, especially now that the pandemic is still sticking around. According to studies, online counseling is just as effective as in-person therapy. Attending online therapy also saves you time and money, as you don’t have to physically get anywhere, and the sessions are cheaper overall. 

Online therapy also allows you to have a licensed therapist who will match your current needs. If you’re hesitant to reveal your identity to your therapist, you have the option to remain anonymous


It’s important to remember that a mental health professional may also require you to take prescriptions to recover from your unhealthy eating habits fully. You can discuss everything with your doctor, including the side effects of the medications and how long the treatment will take. The doctor will also help you with your weight management for a successful treatment.

Final Word

Everything is good in moderation, and eating is no exception. We all agree that food can make us happy, but it can also make us suffer when our relationship with it gets out of control. Overeating is a common problem that may cause potential health problems over time. The good news is that it's treatable with medication and therapy for overeating.

DoMental helps you connect with a licensed therapist who will help identify your eating patterns and develop ways for you to change your overeating habits. 

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