While overweight people are often ridiculed, sometimes it is not simply a matter of choosing to be overweight; sometimes it’s an addictive eating disorder. This is not to say that there aren’t some lazy people who don’t take care of themselves, but there are also people who would love to be healthy and fit, but have an addiction that is every bit as serious and difficult to control as alcohol or tobacco cigarettes.
There are very few people who don’t occasionally enjoy a massive binge. You might try to deny it, but there’s Thanksgiving dinner, the Fourth of July barbecue, Christmas dinner, or any number of special occasions where a lot of food is put in front of you and you eat to your heart’s content. Of course, you remember the feeling of lethargy and discomfort that you get after you do it and limit it to just a few times per year.
When someone has an addictive eating disorder, they can’t control their binging. There is something different going on in their bodies. The signal that tells them when to eat doesn’t quite work, or they simply cannot listen to what their bodies are telling them because their mind is in control. Medically, this is termed “compulsive eating.” When you are a victim of compulsive eating, you are literally compelled to eat more food than you should. Whether you are even conscious of how much you are eating is sometimes questionable, which makes the condition even more serious.
Someone with an addictive eating disorder might fantasize about what he will be eating later on in the day. Whenever he is in sight of food, he finds himself unable to resist eating, and in some cases, he can enter a frenzied state of consumption where he can completely ignore the fact that his body is telling him he’s had enough. The difference between a victim of an addictive eating disorder and a bulimic victim is that the bulimic will purge her body after she’s binged, while someone with an addictive eating disorder will simply binge and not feel guilty and do not purge their bodies.
Scientifically, this addiction happens when an individual metabolizes endorphins abnormally in the brain. Like most addictions, the addictive eating disorder victim will eat not just because he is hungry, but because he is seeking a high that comes from a huge influx of food and blood sugar. Consequently, after riding the roller coaster up, he will come crashing down just as far: his blood sugar levels fall dangerously low after the body has struggled to clear out the unhealthy amount he had, and the serotonin in his brain falls to a minimum, leaving him depressed and anxious. The only way he can feel better is to do the whole thing over again.
Over time, this problem can lead to a number of chronic and life-threatening conditions like hypertension, heart failure, depression, diabetes, insomnia, stroke, arthritis, kidney failure, and more. While it can be easy to just write them off as gluttons, there are people who suffer from an addictive eating disorder, and if you or someone you love is showing signs of being a compulsive eater, seek professional help.