Battling Binging, Emotional Overeating and Food Obsession

Weight loss 7

Binge Eating Disorder (BED), emotional overeating and obsessions with food are all issues that will lead to serious health issues. These include becoming overweight or obese, higher risk of developing Type ll diabetes, increased risk of heart attack or stroke as well as higher rates of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Learning how to control impulses around food consumption that can lead to these three major problems is the first step in changing your life from one where food controls you to one where you are able to control your food intake, enjoy the foods you eat and have a happier, healthier life.

Binge eating disorder, emotional overeating and food obsessions have long been associated with underlying psychological issues that are driving the behavior. Many research studies have shown that interpersonal psychotherapy is very effective in treating these food consumption disorders, particularly when cognitive behavioral therapy is the model used with patients1. This therapy combines education, the building of self-esteem as well as a process known as cognitive restructuring in assisting clients to see themselves in a much more positive light. Guided self-help in this area is found in some of the most effective online counseling programs for eating disorders. When the patients have more control over sessions they feel empowered with the guide, in this case the therapist, providing information, education and support.

Other studies have further shown the importance of guided self-help about eating disorders, even if they do not rise to the level of diagnosis of BED. Patients that have significant food obsessions that results in binge eating below diagnosis level also did better with a cognitive behavioral therapy combined with guided self-help programs than those patients that received treatment as usual. Treatment as usually included consulting with a physician or hospital or clinical based staff2.

Emotional overeaters are also a group of individuals that show very high levels of success with cognitive behavioral counseling. In an interesting study 239 women that were self reported emotional overeaters that were overweight or obese participated in a weight loss program. The women participated in a 12 month behavioral treatment that educated the participants about autonomy, and self-regulation of food intake. The behavioral intervention covered a variety of topics including exercise, physical activity levels, body weight ranges and health education.

Women that embraced a more active lifestyle had the highest body weight change and also the lowest reports of emotional overeating. Flexibility and problem solving with regards to food choices combined with exercise and physical activity was seen to be the highest predictor of effective self-regulation3.

For many women and men that are overweight, obese or who have binge eating, emotional overeating or food obsession problems finding guided self-help and counseling is challenging. The good news is that counseling is now available virtually anywhere via the use of e-counseling, e-therapy and online counseling programs.

How E-counseling Works To Provide Support

E-counseling works just like in person counseling to provide clients with the option to change the way they think about themselves, their habits and their choices. Individuals that binge eat, emotionally overeat or have food obsessions have underlying thoughts and reasons for the behavior that seems to them to be out of control. A counselor online can assist in identifying that incorrect thought process and getting back a sense of self-control and self-regulation that provides empowerment and the opportunity for increased weight loss success that is sustainable over time.

The online counselor or therapist will use the cognitive behavioral methods used in the studies mentioned early. There will be an education component about health lifestyles that is completely and uniquely structured to the individual client’s current environment. Realistic goals for weight loss as well as a realistic way to see the positive changes in body weight as the weight comes off will definitely be a central component of the therapy sessions.

One of the most important tools that an online therapist or counselor will use is the technique of cognitive restructuring. This is, in its most simplistic form, is a change or restructuring in the way that the individual thinks. By changing the thoughts and emotions linked to binging, overeating an obsessing about food the impulses and urges become manageable and within the individual’s control.

Cognitive restructuring is used in a variety of different psychological fields including that of the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. One of the leading professionals in this very interesting field, Albert Ellis, expresses cognitive restructuring as a way to dispute irrational beliefs and make changes to rational belief systems that are in harmony with reality4.

Once the negative thought cycle is replaced with a realistic and positive look at specific situations or triggers that were responsible for triggering binges, overeating and food addictions, there is then the opportunity to take control. The online therapist or e-counselor will help you to determine what factors are influence the specific thoughts that you hold around food and eating and how you have the power to control these thoughts to promote your weight loss goals.


1 Wilson, T. G., Wilfley, D. E., Agras, S., et al. (2010). Psychological Treatments of Binge Eating Disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry , 94-101.

2 Striegel-Moore, R. H., Wilson, T. G., DeBar, L., et al. (2010). Cognitive behavioral guided self-help for the treatment of recurrent binge eating. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology , 312-321.

3 Andrade, A. M., Coutinho, S. R., Silva, M. N., et al. (2010). The Effectiveness of Physical Activity on Weight Loss is Mediated By Eating Self-Regulation. Patient Education and Counseling , 320-326.

4 Ellis, A. (2009). In W. T. O’Donahue, & J. E. Fisher, Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Applying Empirically Supported Techniques In Your Practice (pp. 91-93). Hoboken: Wiley.


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