Confessions of a Compulsive Eater

When the urge for food becomes overwhelming

"Why can't I stop eating?"
Thousands of U.S. women ask themselves this question every day as they desperately struggle to gain control over food and lose weight. Excessive eating is the most prevalent eating disorder in our society. While most of us overeat on occasion, and many feel we eat more than we should, food addicts feel powerless to stop the constant cycle of bingeing—eating that involves large amounts of food in a short period of time. Such was the case with Cynthia, who struggled in her relationship with food for more than 20 years before she found release and healing. Here's her story.—The Editors

I ate the whole pie.

I'd driven to the nearest grocery store that morning where I cruised through the bakery, selecting a cherry pie and a few other items. When I returned to an empty house—my husband was at work and my son was in school—I started pushing down my loneliness by shoving heaping tablespoons of pie into my mouth. When it was half gone, I hid the rest in our refrigerator vegetable bin and began the housework. At lunchtime, though I wasn't hungry, I nibbled some leftovers. Then, an hour later, I once again stood at the counter, spooning pie into my mouth. If I hurry, I told myself, I'll be able to finish it before the school bus drops my son at the house.

Today I'd eaten an entire pie. A few days ago it was a bag of cookies; before that, a cake. I just couldn't seem to control myself. Life had become a routine that began each morning with a mental review of the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. And once I started to eat, I couldn't stop until I was almost ill.

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