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I Need Help with Compulsive Eating

I have a confession, and I'm hoping that someone among you will have some advice.

I have a problem with food, mostly junk food like cookies and candy.

My problem is eating compulsively. If it's available, I will eat it. I can't stop. I'll make myself sick and still keep eating because the food tastes good, and thoughts of that good taste will consume me.compulsive eating

Last week, while I was in Utah, our hotel had chocolate chip cookies at the front desk around the clock. They were tasty, soft and full of chocolate chips.

I couldn't stop eating them. Even when I wasn't eating them, I was thinking about eating them.

The cookies were always there, in unlimited supply, and I ate and ate and ate them.

The same thing happens at home when I buy cookies or candy.

Yesterday, the Halloween candy was 50% off at Walmart, so I bought a bag of Almond Joy bars. They're all gone. Every one.

Just like with the cookies, if I wasn't eating an Almond Joy bar, I was thinking about eating an Almond Joy bar. I couldn't work or read because I couldn't push the thoughts of the candy bars out of my brain.

I don't think this is emotional eating.

I feel silly to be asking for help, but I feel powerless to control this. If I know there is candy available to me, I think about it constantly until I eat it.

So I'm hoping that someone among you, my Dear Readers, will have had an experience like this and give me some suggestions on how to stop the madness.

© 2011 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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25 thoughts on “I Need Help with Compulsive Eating”

  1. I use to be pretty bad at eating sweets as well… At one point, I simply removed everything from the house (except some chocolate chips for when I absolutely needed to eat some!)

    I’ve been on a diet all year (with occasional breaks) and I have found that when I am eating right – all the fruits and veggies I need – that after a while I’m just not as tempted. I still do get tempted but now I can actually have the leftover halloween candy on a top shelf where it is out of the way (unopened) and it doesn’t call to me (very much). However, I think I came to this by the fact I am dieting and was keeping track of my calories (for months!). Every time I thought of eating something ‘extra’ I had to ask myself if eating a candy bar was worth the hour of exercise I’d have to do to burn it off.

    Another trick is when I feel like eating one, I only get ONE out and put the rest away. Eat it then drink water – or if you have to brush your teeth to get the taste out of your mouth.

    I hope something I said helps. If you need a friend to talk you out of eating, feel free to contact me! Sometimes it is all about the support!

  2. I am the same 🙁 the only way i have been able to overcome it, is to just not buy it. My children, because of food intolerances and other reasons, don’t eat anything like that except on rare occasions, so it is never in the house. I’m not a biscuit (cookie) person, but if i have do have one, i can’t stop, I will finish the packet. So again i just don’t buy them. I avoid shopping while hungry, as i know it’s a trigger. Everytime i cave in and get something, it’s because i ” promise i will be responsible and eat it sparingly” and almost everytime it’s gone sometimes the very same day.

    It’s an awful feeling,and a lonely battle withn, and i hope you can find strength to overcome it ((hug))


  3. I think a lot of women deal with this, actually. I used to, and I have to be careful not to backslide into it again. As my friend once said, “What’s with that 3 cookies = one serving nonsense on the Oreo bag? Everyone knows that 1 sleeve equals a serving.”

    Weight Watchers helped me, but it isn’t for everybody. I did find that once I MADE myself stop at 2 or 3 cookies, I could hear all the things I was saying inside my head that were making me want to go for the rest of the tray. Your negative self-talk (that you may not even be aware of) gets really loud when you start ignoring it. This is true for a lot of things, not just food.

  4. I struggle with emotional eating. Recently I read the book, Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst and more than any other diet or food issue book, this one has helped me. Worth a try! Praying for you, girl!

  5. Please read Women, Food, & God by Geneen Roth.
    Also-get it out of the house. Was the $2 bag of Almond Joy’s worth it?
    I go through this a lot & I am just learning to stop it. You are using this to numb yourself. You need to get to the root of it and figure out why. I could spend hours talking to you about this only b/c I am learning about it myself so please read that book. Also-please check out
    This girl is a lot like us and something inside of her has clicked. Hoping that it clicks for us too.

  6. I like to think I’m not an emotional eater, but I probably am. Okay, I definitely am. Sweets are not my problem. It’s more like fries. And carbs. And everything Italian. I can bypass a candy bar without a problem, but red sauce? Forget it.

    The only way I have ever found to stop (and only for years at a time) is to avoid it. Will myself out of it. But, after a few years, I’m always right back where I started. It’s an addiction (candy bars, friends, food in general), so I think the only way to stop is to avoid.

    Which is definitely easier said than done.

  7. Oh boy…. Tara, I’ve suffered from an eating disorder- anorexia then bulemia, then binge eating- and I understand where you are coming from

    Its more than just eating things because they are there, it’s a compulsion. After the anotexia and bulemia, my bubge earing began For so long I’d denied myself peanut butter, when I finally let myself have it, I would finish a jar in a day.

    A day.

    I’d eat frozen cakes, icing, fistfuls of bread- I couldn’t sleep without thinking of what I was eating.

    That year I literally gained 100 pounds in a year. 100.

    And it took a while, but anti depressants helped me balance out. It was like I’d swing in somany directions, so many extremes, my body was out of control.

    It’s been almost 10 years since my binge eating episodes, and I was just thinking the other day how I can have a peanut butter jar in my house or months… But when I wa in it, I was deep.

    This may not be your situation, but I just wanted to share if you are, you’re not alone.

  8. This is going to sound weird – but I would recommend exercise. The chemicals released into the body through exercise are amazing when it comes to this sort of thing…and I say this as someone who wrestles with anxiety that is much more balanced with exercise. Just walking – outside walking or track walking or whatever turns your crank re: exercise. It’s amazing how my brain changes with that simple change (now I wish my weight would change too…ha ha) I can relate to this post – I think I could have written it at certain points in my life!

  9. Tara,
    I LOVE food also. And I think about it all the time. However, that mixed with my compulsive need to make lists led me to write down everything I was going to eat for the day before I ate it. (I’m back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon!) So I will pre-portion my food, be it carrots & 2 Tbsp. dip, salad with a container of 2 Tbsp. of dressing, 3 Snackwells cookies, 38 Veggie straws, 6 raviolis with 1/4 cup sauce, etc. So I know what I will be eating all through the day, with some yumminess mixed in there (pudding, Halloween candy, etc.). And I know how much I can eat and when to stop. But I’m eating almost all the time throughout the day. Guilt free!
    Good luck, Tara. I want to hear what ends up working for you!

  10. It sounds to me like this is something that requires professional assistance, but the first step is certainly not having it in the house. I read somewhere that if you know your trigger foods, the ones that get you started on the binge, get rid of them. Hence the reason why there are no more Oreos allowed in my home! (Is it any wonder that all the KitKats, Tootsie Rolls and Whoppers seem to have mysteriously disappeared from my kids’ Halloween bags? ) I also buy the kids’ cookies in those little four packs rather than in one big package. It helps me a ton!

  11. I’m having the same battle and I wish I knew the answer too. Food is more like a coping mechanism for me – when everything goes wrong I eat and it comforts me. I don’t think I even taste what I am eating most of the time and am instead thinking about what I will eat next. The thing I am doing is I am involved in a local TOPS group. Knowing that I have to weigh in each week and report to the group helps. I also am determined not to lose this battle. I may mess up but the next day I wake up and try again. I will be praying for you. You are not alone.

  12. One of the things I like about Weight Watchers is that you are deprived of nothing, so you can avoid the deprivation/binge cycle. It’s all about learning the right amounts to eat (portion control). If I can say to myself, “Of course you can have a candy bar today, just count the points,” I don’t start feeling guilty if I eat one. Often the guilt leads to the negative self-talk (“I’m fat, I have no self-control, I am such a pig) that leads me to having more than one.

  13. I wish I had a magic answer…I could use it too. I constantly thinking about the next meal, snack etc. I eat because it tastes good and feels good in my mouth. It is so frustrating.

  14. I’m at goal. I used WW.
    For me it was finding my motivation and inspiration to change. To finally love myself, to show that love by looking after my health.
    My kids are my inspiration. I look at them and I know why I need to stay motivated to stay as healthy as I can. I want to be here to see them grow, I want to hold my gandbabies in my arms. I want to grow old and disgraceful.
    Find what you WANT most in life and instead of focusing on what you have to give up to change focus on what you gain by that change.
    I wish you all the best and hope that you too can make the change that I have made.

  15. Tara, my dear heart, you know the answer as well as I do. It’s inside of you. You know the answer starts with learning to love and value yourself. I’m not saying that the answer is easy. We BOTH know that isn’t the case. I still struggle daily, I’m still overweight – but I KNOW exactly what I must do to finally release it. I just have to decide that I am worth it. The same is for each and every one of us. Much love to you & if I can help in any way please let me know, I’d love to support you.


    • I know you’re right. I felt like I disappointed Freeman and everyone else in my group when I stopped doing the Weight Release program last year. The pregnancy was a huge factor, but I think I just wasn’t ready for it yet. I’ve learned so much about myself in the past 18 months; I hope I am ready now. I’m going to start again and see how it goes. At a church retreat over the weekend, I learned about a faith-based wellness program that incorporates Bible study and prayer as part of the overall lifestyle changes. My plan is to do that with a few girlfriends starting in the new year. In the meantime, I think I’m going to work through Weight Release again on my own. It was eye-opening and valuable the first time, and I’m sure it will be again.

      • Oh Tara, do not feel like you’ve disappointed anyone. Seriously. It’s all a work in progress – a journey. Things happen. Sometimes we’re not ready to be on the path that we took, it’s all good. We learn things as we go.

        Another really good supplement to the Weight Release program is Marianne Williamson’s A Course In Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. It’s heavy, I warn you. But she says some pretty powerful things. I’m still actually working through it a year after I started it, but it’s really good.

        Again, let me know if there is anything I can do for you. If you want a partner to work through either program – I’d love it! And I’d love to support you!

        Take care & much love,

  16. Tara, everyone has given great advice, especially the book Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst. I just thought I’d throw one more thing out there: when I struggle with the overeating you described, I often find that I’m eating foods with low nutritional value. When I fill up on foods that are nutrient-dense, I don’t get nearly as out of control. This might mean eggs for breakfast, or plenty of protein and cheese on my salad at lunch. Sometimes I think our bodies crave because we aren’t getting the nutrients we need in the food we DO eat. Exercise helps, too. God Bless you on your journey.

  17. There seem to be different types of people in this regard. Some say they need to allow themselves an occasional sugary or salty “treat” (generally foods of low nutritional value, as mentioned by Elizabeth above); otherwise, they feel so deprived they end up binging. In my case, it is MUCH easier to refrain entirely; one “treat” sets off a craving for more.

  18. I have struggled with this all of my life. I used to hide junk food in my bedroom as a teenager. I at entire bags of doritos or chips as a snack. My friends were always amazed at the amount of junk food I would eat. Part of it was because my mom just bought whatever we wanted so it was always there. Always. Now that I control what comes into the house, I have to be very strict or I will backslide. I make healthier treats that don’t taste nearly as good but will satisfy my sweet craving and aren’t addictive. I think part of it is that some of the ingredients they put in junk food is quite addictive.

    My 8yo son has this problem, too. He’s thrown up on numerous occasions because he ate too much junk food. At first, I thought I was teaching him a good lesson by letting him go too far. Then I realized, he can’t stop. That’s when I decided it’s all fruit, veggies, and whole foods. None of that junk is in my house. If my husband wants it, he has to do it outside of the house.

    I have to really watch my son at picnics and parties. Last New Year’s eve I parked myself in the path of the food (I couldn’t be next to it or I would have been in trouble) so I could monitor what he was taking. I must have missed a few of his trips because he ended up throwing it all up later.

    It’s so hard to be the mother of someone like this because he makes me feel bad for not letting him have stuff that other kids can have. But it really is for his own good. And it MAKES me set a good example.

    You’re not alone.

  19. You are NOT necessarily an “emotional eater.” You weren’t eating the cookies because you were sad or angry (bored maybe), were you? Probably not. Truth is, some people can’t handle carbs and sugar. Your body will always crave more, more, more. There is a website called “Nutritional Weight and Wellness.” On that website, you will find an interesting article titled “The Real Cause of Compulsive Eating.” I read it right before I came across your page by googling “compulsion to eat sweets” (both this site and the other pop up). The article explains why you and I can’t control ourselves. The answer, of course, is a low carb, low sugar diet. But you have to want to be free of your cravings more than you want to indulge them. That is where I am stuck. I want to be free, but not enough.

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