Thursday, 24 February 2011

Defining compulsive eating

I happened to find this entry in wikipedia, it was one of the most upsettingly ignorant things I've laid eyes on in a while. What could motivate someone so clueless into bothering? Rarely is this subject covered and on the rare occasion it is, the person clearly has no idea what they are talking about and is credulous and offensive with it.

So I decided to try and describe it from my understanding and I warn you I do not go for the typical eating disorders mentality, this is my understanding of it having experienced it myself.

Compulsive eating  happens when your natural hunger and appetite signals increase substantially out of proportion to your body's energy and nutrient needs. Eating is innate so its switch; hunger can be less than or above a normal range.

It is not "mental illness." That mentality comes about by starting from the basis that weight loss dieting is a rational and normal way to eat.  It goes we are in full conscious control of what we eat , therefore if we are eating a lot-it is harmful/ a killer and because of that a compulsive eater must be mental.

Rubbish, it is a mechanical imbalance, like having eczema because your body's production of skin cells is excessive. It can often be caused by stress and emotional issues but it's also often like being fat, it's not the seriousness of the situation that causes CE or weight gain, but the sensitivity of your response to that stimulus.

So if your body is sensitive to stress in these or other areas these responses occur at the same level of stress as those who remain thin or continue eating normally- they simply don't have that tendency.

It is the case though that in some it is triggered under duress, mine was elevated to disorder by trying to restrict my intake of food to a healthy diet. It upped my desire for foods that I wanted to avoid and that developed a momentum of its own.

There are also feelings of upset about having the problem adding to the distress which can put you under a lot of pressure. But I'm reluctant to describe eating disorders even anorexia as mental illness because I find the basis, dubious. A lot of it is down to the reaction of other people, like fatness is defined by everyone else whilst we are silenced.

As the basis of eating is innate and we have to do it, the appetite needs to be put back in harmony and the hunger signals/desire to eat, lowered. And as the aim of recovery from addiction is to stop taking the substance, neither the treatment model nor the definition (of addiction) make sense or are useful for CE.

The only food addiction is alcoholism. As well as being a food, alcohol is a drug and alcoholism has another genesis, craving rather than above normal signals. ibid, the body's adaptation against it's excess of signalling (to eat).

Hunger rises from the body to the head. The idea of false hunger or head hunger is wrong, hunger is hunger. It may be of a different kind, like when you have a craving for something as opposed to acute hunger, just needing energy, but it is no less powerful a signal for the fact that you may not need the energy to live.

The body has the capacity to trigger hunger (how much you need to eat) and/ or appetite (what you need to eat) in response to moods and emotions. What's called comfort eating. This tends to be mostly innate and widespread. Some don't have it, some have it a little, others have more but don't put on weight or much and others find their limit seemingly inexhaustible.

The problem is not the eating, that is a symptom. The issue is to relieve the problem that causing it.

Dieting or food restriction is a very bad idea if it is in full flow, it will only stoke it up, I didn't realise this until after I stopped trying (to diet).

The thing about compulsive eating is its not about pleasure its about the opposite in a way, lack of pleasure. You'd think that would cause the hunger to fade but it doesn't in this case ,it seems to stimulate the signals further upward, in order to try and close that pleasure gap.

All the time I had the problem I honestly cannot remember once enjoying eating. I felt embarrassed about this for a long while. It never affected that upward drive. The only pleasure I got was the relief of these endlessly nagging signals that actually did almost unhinge me at times, because it felt like nothing I did would make them go away for long.

It made eating a truly demoralising experience n the end and boring, yet, that never affected the overriding desire to eat. The only pleasure I felt was a bit like when someone's standing on your foot and its hurting and they (eventually) get off. Its relief not pleasure.

That's why its so well named as compulsive. It is a lot like other compulsive actions like hand washing. Eating becomes a mechanical hand to mouth process, it's urge has no shape, no peaks, just the grip of a mounting panic like desire and the temporary relief of it.

It's like the desert, really dull and stretching out seemingly forever.

It's as if your overall lowered mood of depression or heightened mood of panic/anxiety (or all) has spread to your eating and appetite too but instead of quieting down, it starts to shout moan and nag you endlessly.

Everything is ramped up to a higher setting, hunger, need to eat, reaction to the sight of food-you feel totally distracted by it. That gets really old too as you can't concentrate on other things. The way hunger feels has a strangely overpowering emotional impact- I didn't notice until I really started recovering.

It's like the feeling of it shakes you up in an unnatural way, the difference is quite disturbing. It is ludicrous to say it gives you a high because you can only enjoy eating so much and more doesn't equal more enjoyment or even any.

It is a relief of the trigger which may be raised or affected by emotional disturbance mood imbalance but it does not dilate your pupils or make you walk unsteadily or fall over. You can tell when someone's high if the writer can point to footage showing compulsive eaters falling about in a food induced stupor I'll be convinced that some people can get high from it. There can be a trance like quality during an eating spree but please, you can get that travelling down the motorway. Trances are everyday phenomena, I don't need a disorder to go into one.

Otherwise I'm calling BS on the high, altered state of consciousness salaciousness.

As for not being physically hungry, no, but your body is often prepared for it and that's what no-one points out. I'm sure some people eat to they vomit or whatever at times, but mostly your body accommodates it. When your hunger is functioning normally that would be really hard work sometimes impossible.

I know I can't force myself to eat stuff if I'm not hungry so I know the difference. He says that the brains of people with CE get more stimulated by certain foods, but when they analyzed the vomit of bulimics they found they were made up of the foods they were avoiding.

Though never that, I can relate, my diet became increasingly split. The foods I craved were really the ones I was trying to avoid. That's why in the end I've had to let go of healthy eating as it would not let CE fade if I'd kept it up.

It isn't just cutting calories, it's restricting foods that can trigger episodes of eating. All that he calls withdrawal could be and are consequences of trying to treat it (with restriction). Which I'm not sure about because I wouldn't touch OA (I refuse to link to them) with an extra long barge pole, but I think they do exactly what made my problem, stop eating certain "wrong" foods.

Some of them also calorie count and believe weight loss=recovery. The only reason they go on like this is because they are useless. They do not treat or cure it, they just fight with it and presumably support each other in that.

They are welcome to it.

So summing up this page it is overwhelmingly utter tripe.

[Edited; I've corrected typos and clarified a few points]

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