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To think compulsive over eating is a mental health illness *warning may be sensitive*

(328 Posts)
OhFFSWhatsWrongNow Tue 24-Jun-14 11:33:00

"All you have to do to lose weight is to eat healthier and exercise more"

Oh really? I had no idea. So all the over eating I have been doing for the last 22 years to comfort me through a very rough childhood can be cured just like that? Wow, thanks, that's very helpful, all my problems are solved then.

No! I'm sorry but this is an extremely ignorant view. Would you say to an anorexic "just eat more food. You'll be fine in no time"? I sincerely hope you wouldn't. So why would you challenge an over eater as to why they don't eat less food?

Don't get me wrong, I understand people must take responsibility for themselves. I'm not denying that. But for people who have had traumatic upbringings or events in their lives and turn to food for comfort, it can feel like they have lost all control over their eating. This is how I feel, and yes, I need help. It's not so easy to ask for it. Being obese is shameful enough without going to someone and admitting it. From the outside looking in, it doesn't seen so bad. But when you're the one asking, it can seem truly daunting, so many people just don't ask for it.

I want to talk about a taboo subject here, and debunk a myth that states all fat people are just lazy slobs who have no self control and just like to eat all day. This is not only judgemental and a disgusting way to think, it's also completely ridiculous. Many larger people have active lives, many of us take part in sports and have normal active lives. Just because we are over weight doesn't mean we lie around all day stuffing our faces. I have 6 children, do you think I have time to sit my arse on my couch all day? And no, my children are not overweight, for those wondering.

The self control issue, however may be correct. Because when you eat until you are so very unhealthy, you have lost control haven't you? If I could just stop over eating I would. Why the hell would I (or anyone) eat so much that they got dangerously overweight on purpose? I don't enjoy it, and don't know many people who do. I'm not saying it's an excuse to be fat, or makes it ok.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that compulsive over eaters have a problem, just like people who starve themselves, or people who have depression(which I also have) and deserve help, sympathy and respect, and not ridicule and being made fun of.

So to all my school bullies, and those "friends" and family members and even judgemental people who think obese people are too lazy to do anything about their weight, trust me, you are just making a mental health problem worse. Unless you have struggled with this problem you will never understand.

wol1968 Tue 24-Jun-14 11:52:22

YANBU - I can't offer too much in the way of constructive advice I'm afraid. I think what you are describing sounds like drug addiction's poor relation. Hope you can find some help. thanks

Partridge Tue 24-Jun-14 11:58:25

I was on a thread like this a while back. I will try and find it and link for you. On the whole people were v supportive.

Sillylass79 Tue 24-Jun-14 11:59:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorporateRockWhore Tue 24-Jun-14 12:01:22


I can remember when I started to compulsively overeat; it was in direct response to something awful that happened when I was 9. It's been my response in the face of difficult things ever since, and I think over the years I've also generally lost sense of normal portion sizes.

I suspect I need therapy to change, but can't afford it. I do try, and I do recognise it, so I guess that is a start.

Partridge Tue 24-Jun-14 12:04:03


ccridersuz Tue 24-Jun-14 12:05:46

Maybe, you like to think it's a mental health problem, but million's of people have a bad upbringing, you are not the only one and they do not become obese because of it.
But why do you say you have no control over what you eat? what sort of statement is that, when you admit yourself that and I quote "all the over eating I've been doing for the last 22 years".
Of course you have control of what you eat, you have control of the shopping trolley, what you put into it, how much you spend on junk and fatty food's and it is your hand's that feed your mouth.
Why is over eating a mental health problem? why because you eat for the sake of eating a mental health problem?
If, as you say you lead such an active life, how can you say you are obese? You are either active or obese, because active is healthy and obese is certainly not healthy.
I have an obese friend, who think's she's active, but she cannot even reach to tie her shoelaces and now buy's slip on's because of this.
Why can you not eat healthy food????

TheSarcasticFringehead Tue 24-Jun-14 12:06:34

YANBU. I am not an overeater although my relationship with food is complicated in other ways. However, I have depression and anxiety. Especially as a teen and also as an adult, I self harmed by cutting. It was comforting, oddly enough, even though I knew it was wrong and it hurt me and it didn't make me feel better, it still felt comforting in that moment. I don't think I had any self control over it in the same way I felt I had zero self control about being able to get out of the house- or even getting out of the bed. From the over eaters I know, it sounds a similar way...imo, it's a form of self harm for SOME people, and an addiction (plus self harm is addictive too) to others. It's not about being lazy!

Gen35 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:07:45

Yanbu, you might also want to post for help

Gen35 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:09:08

Doh sorry too soon - on the eating disorders section. Always bothered me that people talk sympathetically about weight loss but never see weight gain as a sign of a problem - which to me it definitely is. People don't just gain lots if weight when they're happy and enjoying life.

softlysoftly Tue 24-Jun-14 12:09:09

Totally agree, its like saying an alcoholic just has to stop drinking.

My mum always said actually its harder because you CAN just stop consuming alcohol, you CAN just stop smoking, you CAN just stop taking drugs.

You cannot however stop eating entirely without dying.

Sillylass79 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:09:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheSarcasticFringehead Tue 24-Jun-14 12:09:35

It's as easy to say don't put comfort food in the shopping trolley as it is to say you can walk without crutches and a broken leg. Most over eaters I know use food like a crutch, a way to feel better about themselves and support themselves. Technically, I'm sure I could've got out of bed if forced too, or someone with a sprained ankle could run, but it would be hard, painful and counterproductive. Telling people who have problems with eating that they do have the will power is wrong imo, giving them the means to find that willpower and stop for themselves will be better in the long run?

OhFFSWhatsWrongNow Tue 24-Jun-14 12:13:31

Thank you so much for the responses everyone. It's interesting to see what everyone thinks.

cc interferon reply, and fair enough to ask that question, but that is the point I was trying to make in my op. It's not just as easy as saying "eat healthy food". It's a deep rooted psychological problem that I feel that I have lost control over. And yes it is possible to be obese and active. If you don't eat properly then being active alone isn't going to make you lose weight.

OhFFSWhatsWrongNow Tue 24-Jun-14 12:13:54

*interesting reply

sewingandcakes Tue 24-Jun-14 12:14:59

ccridersuz you've just demonstrated exactly the attitude that OP is talking about. It really isn't always a case of just eating less to lose weight, when there are strong emotional and psychological factors linked into eating.

This isn't the case for everyone who is overweight, but there are many people who do have mental health issues and use food as a way to improve their feelings (and exacerbate their weight gain). I'm including myself in this as I have always used food to make myself feel better, especially during the depression I have just about come out of. I am only now at a point where I feel able to tackle my weight gain with exercise and healthier eating.

I would recommend reading the thread that Partridge linked to. I remember it well.

Justfuckitupagain Tue 24-Jun-14 12:15:13

Well done op for being active thanks

I can feel myself getting into another deeply depressive episode - I'm just eating with no will or energy to get up and do something. Even getting up in the morning is a struggle

Sillylass79 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:16:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toolonglurking Tue 24-Jun-14 12:16:35

A very solid point OP - my Mother comfort eats to deal with her problems, so I seem to have picked it up too. When I am stressed or unhappy food makes it (temporarily) better.

Depression got the better of me for 9 years, I got to the point that I would binge eat about 4000-5000 calories in a day, and then feel worse - the cycle continues.

A great Counsellor is what sorted me out - now I eat healthily and exercise regularly and am losing weight in a slow and healthy way.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 24-Jun-14 12:17:15

Yes of course it's a mental health problem

And some people (even on this thread) are not interested in understanding mental health problems.

To quote the great Bron: "there's no cure for being a cunt"

PumpkinPie2013 Tue 24-Jun-14 12:18:31

YANBU I think food is a comfort/something that can be controlled for a lot of people.

Have you (or can you) speak to your GP about perhaps getting some support for the past issues?

Do you have anyone in RE who can support you to try to eat more healthily and perhaps do some gentle exercise? Maybe just short walks at first then build up.

I hope you can get some help/support x

Justfuckitupagain Tue 24-Jun-14 12:19:23

grin Laurie

WorraLiberty Tue 24-Jun-14 12:21:00

"All you have to do to lose weight is to eat healthier and exercise more"

Oh really? I had no idea. So all the over eating I have been doing for the last 22 years to comfort me through a very rough childhood can be cured just like that? Wow, thanks, that's very helpful, all my problems are solved then.

But that is all most people have to do to lose weight.

In your case, or in the case of anyone else with a mental health problem, it isn't all they have to do.

Obviously they would have to start with getting help for their MH issue

But ultimately, if that issue can be resolved then yes 'All they have to do to lose weight is to eat healthier and exercise more'...unless of course medication or something else is hindering them.

BravePotato Tue 24-Jun-14 12:23:33

I am sorry you feel got at, in life and on MN

I agree with most of what you say.

but as 60% of the population is obese or overweight, are you saying 60% of the population have mental health problems?

Everyone else's life is not like yours, and everyone else's reasons to overeat are not the same as yours.

Like lots of people, you are projecting your own emotions onto all bigger people.

I don't think all overweight problems have mental health issues.

But people who shout : "Eat less move more, simple!" are lacking in empathy, and unhelpful.

People who have problems with their weight would probably benefit more from counselling than from diet clubs.

OhFFSWhatsWrongNow Tue 24-Jun-14 12:23:54

Thank you for being so supportive everyone. I didn't expect so many people to agree with me tbh. The good thing is that over eating is recognised as a mental health problem by professionals and they do take it seriously. I don't think it was in the past.

Believe it or not I actually am an active person, I do 3 exercise classes a week. This is one on the myths I was trying to squash, obese people CAN be active.

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