15 Jan 2011

Overeating and Anorexia - more similar than different?

I'm currently reading 'Intuitive Eating' by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It's a really interesting (if old fashioned) book about how to ditch the 'Diet mentality' and learn to eat in a way that is insync with your body's needs. A lot of it is actually focused on overeating and binging rather than on permanent, longterm restriction but I was amazed by how relavent it was to me.

For instance, ET and ER talk about how overearters often binge as a way of distracting themselves from negative feelings. In the same way, I would regress into undereating when I felt unhappy or scared in my life. It made me feel safe and secure to hide away in a little world where the only things that mattered were the numbers of the scale and the number of calories I'd consumed. The hunger would numb the emotions I was afraid of, like anger and sadness. ET and ER point out that binging to avoid your feelings is ultimately counterproductive because it inhibits you from discovering the true source of your feelings and taking healthy steps to change them. Of course, the same is true of undereating.

ET and ER also talk about people who overeat 'in an angry, forceful manner that allows them to feel beaten up'. Now, I had now idea this could be a part of binge eating! Certainly, undereating and turning yourself into a waif, can be about punishing yourself and making yourself feel like a victim too.

ET and ER also point out some of the commonest triggers of overeating including anxiety, depression and stress, all of which are classic triggers of anorexia too.

All of this has made me think that, if undereating and overeating are so similar, then surely the cures must be similar too. For this reason, I'm going to continue reading 'Intuitive Eating' and will share with you some of the advice and insights it has with you.


  1. This is really true! Thanks for posting it!

  2. That is very true! When I was in treatment, they told us very similar things! I just subscribed to your blog and I'm very glad I found it!

    Please share what you find out about intruitive eating bc I wish to God I had the right cues.


  3. Both overeating and under-eating are *addictions.* You are absolutely right that both “can be about punishing yourself and making yourself feel like a victim.” I also love that you point out that you “make yourself feel” which most people fail to recognize. Fortunately, we can make ourselves “feel” other ways by deciding to change our behavior and our underlying beliefs about that behavior. What I am writing is better articulated in this short clip to which I think you should devote just a few moments of your time.
    xxoo Colleen