Causes of Compulsive Eating: Do You Overeat?

foodPeople tend to overeat every now and then. Sometimes, those onion rings are just too tempting to pass up or those French fries just look great.  For people who compulsively eat, this condition is not only a regular occurrence. It is also an uncontrollable urge. Binge eaters are emotional eaters. They use food to cope with stress and other negative feelings they may have only to feel much worse afterwards.  Binge eating is a vicious cycle caused by a number of factors. offers the following discussion on the most prominent causes of this disorder:

Features of Binge Eating

  • Numerous episodes of uncontrollable eating
  • Feeling extremely guilty or upset after a round of binge eating
  • Binge eaters do not try to get rid of the food they eat like in bulimia. In this condition, they vomit it up or go through fasting and exercising to make up for the eating compulsion.

Biological Causes

Problems in the hypothalamus —the part of the brain that controls appetite —can lead people to overeat.  Sometimes the hypothalamus may not send the correct signals regarding hunger and feeling full.  There is also a genetic mutation discovered by researchers that apparently causes people to be addicted to food.  Moreover, low levels of the brain chemical serotonin also play a factor when it comes to binge eating.

Social and Cultural

Societal pressure can also lead people to suffer from a binge eating disorder.  The pressure to become thin adds to the embarrassment binge eaters feel, and this contributes to more emotional eating.  Poor parental guidance may inadvertently set the stage for the onset of an eating disorder. They sometimes use food to comfort their kids or act as a form of reward.  Kids, who are often exposed to negative comments about how they look, are also much more vulnerable.  Those who have been sexually are also known to suffer from binge eating.

Psychological Causes

Psychological conditions such as depression can also cause binge eating.  Most binge eaters are already depressed or have been at some time prior.  This leads to poor impulse control, as they see food as a form of reward to make themselves feel good.