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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Eating to feel numb

    I can't stop eating - gorging - on huge amounts of unhealthy food maybe three or four times a week. I eat in private and the lengths I go to to get the food I am craving can be seen as extreme but I can't stop. I have a ritualised way of eating (always in private) and afterwards, I am literally buzzing and numb, as they call it a "food coma". Then I feel awful. I can't stop and I don't know why I do it. I've been doing this on and off for about 25 years since I was 15. And now I am paying the toll as I am facing obesity and other health problems. Surely this is not an eating disorder but a substance abuse (addiction)? I'm not sure as to whether I should see someone about substance addiction or for an eating disorder. I don't know why I started doing this. I want to stop so much.
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  • 1




    Shirley is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years clinical experience in large public hospital and in private practice. She has extensive specialised experience in … View Profile

    It is a good step that you are writing this to reach out. I would suggest that you seek guidance from a psychologist with expertise of disordered eating, as well as a dietitian. For dietitian close to you, you can use this to search. 

  • 1


    Melissa Yip

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Experienced accredited practicing dietitian (APD) with more than 10 years of practice. Happy to help with nutrition issues and chronic disease management. Lover of delicious … View Profile

    Are you eating large volumes in response to physical hunger?

    If you are bingeing on food when you are not actually hungry, such as being triggered by emotions (angry, bored) or even food smells (its a struggle to walk past a KFC and not feel like having some even when I have like just literally had a meal!) - then this can mean that you start to lose sense of what a normal trigger for eating is.

    I see that you "feel awful" after every time you have had a binge - does this extend to how you feel emotionally e.g. guilt, shame? I have had many clients who then embark on a vicous cycle where these negative emotions triggers more bingeing which then triggers more negative emotions etc etc.

    The reasons why we eat the way we do, especially if it is disordered, is very complex and I would suggest you seek some guidance from a psychologist who has an expertise in eating disorders. Together with you, they can nut out the reasons why you have such a strong reliance on foods and perhaps explore strategies to manage your needs without using food.

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