Compensation behavior is just what the eating disorder patient does to make up for the calories consumed and consumed. They try to eliminate shame, anxiety, guilt, or other “bad” feelings about the food and eating behavior.It is important to note that eating should not make people feel guilty; after all, we need food to survive, and everyone should be able to enjoy food without guilt. However, food culture and weight stigma reinforce the notion that people should have willpower and avoid more indulgent foods.
These behaviors are considered symptoms of bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and clearance disorders, although they may also appear in people with “disorders” of eating behavior or other eating disorders.
Compensatory behavior may occur when someone eats more than they planned or eats comfortably, after overeating, after eating certain foods, or after eating normally.
As the name suggests, compensation behavior is usually to compensate for the number of calories or food intake, or to ease the negative emotions caused by eating. They are usually afraid of gaining weight.
Examples of compensatory behavior
The most famous compensatory behavior is self-induced vomiting. However, other examples of compensatory behaviors in eating disorders include the abuse of laxatives, the abuse of diuretics (pills designed to eliminate excess water), the abuse of colon and enemas, overuse, and compulsive exercise.It can also include cleaning and drinking special teas containing laxatives.
Fasting or restricting food intake for a period of time after eating may also be seen as a compensatory behavior.
In addition, researchers found that some people with eating disorders chew food and then spit it out as a compensatory behavior. A study found that nearly 25% of patients with eating disorders have this behavior. The study shows that people who do this tend to suffer from more serious eating disorders.
Use multiple compensation behaviors
Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders continue to increase the number or number of compensatory behaviors they engage in so that they can continue to achieve the same level of stress and anxiety reduction as when they first started these behaviors.
A study shows that, in fact, people with eating disorders who use more than one compensatory behavior—for example, self-induced vomiting and use of laxatives—are more likely to suffer from more serious eating disorders. In this study involving 398 children and adolescents, nearly 38% of the subjects used more than one compensation behavior.
The study found that girls are more likely to use more than one compensation behavior than boys, and those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa are more likely to use multiple compensation behaviors than those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa . Compared with patients with eating disorders who used one or not one compensation behavior, those who did use more than one compensation behavior had lower self-esteem and overall function on average.Young children with eating disorders are less likely to use compensatory behaviors.
Treatment of compensatory behavior
Compensatory behavior usually helps maintain the cycle of eating disorders. Most compensatory actions bring the risk of potential medical problems. The treatment of eating disorders should focus on stopping compensatory behavior. Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most successful therapies to solve the compensation behavior of eating disorders.
Patients are informed of the dangers of the particular compensatory behavior they are using. For example, self-induced vomiting can affect a person’s voice, damage the esophagus, damage the teeth, and cause a heart attack. The abuse of laxatives can cause damage to the colon. Excessive exercise can lead to overuse injuries. In cognitive behavioral therapy, patients are taught alternative ways to manage anxiety and guilt. They also learned to tolerate negative emotions and the feeling of fullness after eating. The goal is to allow patients to develop more appropriate coping strategies, such as seeking support from others or trying to write a diary or meditate.
Sometimes, stopping these compensatory behaviors can be very challenging, especially for people who have used them for many years. In this case, they have become a habit and may feel “automatic”. Professional help can help patients overcome these behaviors. In some cases, a higher level of care, such as hospitalization, may be required to interrupt frequent or deep-rooted compensatory behaviors.
A word from Wilville
If you have been engaging in compensatory sex, shame and guilt may prevent you from seeking help. However, it is important to reach out and get support. With the right help, you can stop these behaviors and resume.