Compulsive Eater Wants to Be Healthier

By December 7, 2012

I am not as concerned about how I look as I am about how I feel. I am a compulsive eater. I have been most of my life. Food is really my friend and I often fear being without it. Because of this, I pack too much stuff in my lunch every day to avoid running out. I usually run out when I get close to my house, the place I can get more food if I want it. I am overweight. I am 5’10” tall and weigh 218 with no clothes on in the morning. My job is one in which I remain seated much of the day in a bed of stress. I am a type II diabetic with thyroid problems and high blood pressure. I get very little exercise because when I get home in the evenings, I either have some place to go or I am too tired to do anything but eat and go to bed. I am 63 years old and at this rate, I probably do not have a whole lot of time left on this earth. I am a believer in Christ Jesus and I would love to extend my life span so that I can let Him serve people through me during my retired years. I really would appreciate some help. – John

Dear John,

I applaud your honesty and willingness to look at change. Compulsive eating is certainly not uncommon today as a way (in the short term) to handle the loads of stress in our lives; unfortunately, it does come with some nasty side effects.

The good news is, even the smallest of changes in lifestyle choices can significantly impact your health in a very positive way.

First, any way that you can possibly move your body more than what you do today is a gigantic first step. Research tells us now that even movement in increments of 10 minutes has a positive impact on health issues – the specific ones you deal with – diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin levels, etc. Think of any activity that seems pleasurable and sustainable to you…walking, playing with the dog, golfing (without the cart J), lawn work, etc.

Once you have the green light from your physician that you are able to be more active, aim for an average of 150 minutes of activity per week. This includes all activity…washing the car, mowing the lawn, walking around the block, etc. Again, think pleasurable and sustainable activity.

Second, it’s time to really take inventory of where this food insecurity comes from. There may be some underlying issues that require work. A trained professional such as a psychotherapist can help you to unpack some of these underlying issues that drive the compulsive eating. See “Finding Treatment.”

There are many other ways to meet these very legitimate human needs of competency, connectedness, belonging, acceptance and worth than using food. A therapist can give you some tools to try other methods of distress tolerance than turning to food.

God desires good things for you…”I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11. Hope is right at your fingertips. You are able to turn the corner right now and move in the direction of hope instead of despair.

God’s best to you as you move toward Him with a hopeful heart.

Juliet N. Zuercher, RD