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A compulsive eater can be defined as someone who organizes his or her thoughts and experiences around food. Nearly all of the emotions a person experiences such as fear, guilt, anticipation and pleasure have to do with food. A compulsive eater keeps eating even when hunger has been satisfied. Eating is driven by anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger, rather than by hunger or pleasure.

Generally, compulsive eaters don't get a lot of pleasure from food because of the great amount of guilt and shame they feel after eating. They may feel that their eating and their weight show their lack of self-control. They may also feel envious or inferior toward others who seem to handle food better than they do.

A compulsive eater may also be a compulsive dieter, especially yo-yo dieting. They may stick rigidly to their diet, even though they are drawn to food during times of stress and anxiety, for fear of being out of control if they stray from their diet.

Having said this, a person can be heavy or even obese and not be a compulsive eater. It's also possible to be of average weight or even thin and be a compulsive eater. It is the relationship to the food that determines whether or not a person is a compulsive eater. If food is valued for its instant gratification and its ability to comfort,
defuse anger, or calm a person down, then a person is probably eating compulsively.

If you think you are a compulsive eater, consult your GP and he can put you in touch with support groups in your area.