(WECT) - Many women who do not have eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia may still have disordered habits and attitudes when it comes to food, eating, and their own bodies.
For one woman chocolate and red wine is just a guilty pleasure, but secret eating can be serious for women. It is one of the most common eating disorders.
"Eating a large amount of food in a certain discreet period of time, feeling a sense of loss of control, as if you can't control your eating or stop and then a host of criteria -- that several have to be met -- such as eating in secret, eating until uncomfortably full, and feeling negative about it during or after the eating episode," said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jay Ashmore.
Secret eaters are not alone. Calorie prisoners are consumed with counting every morsel. The career dieter's weight is like a yo-yo - it goes up and down, up and down.
Dr. Ashmore said the conditions can lead to more serious disorders.
"Anger, stress, anxiety, and that in and of itself or in combination without eating can trigger a binge or over-eating or eating when not hungry," said Dr. Ashmore. "Why? Because it just feels good, and you're going to do something that feels good to help you manage that negative mood."
When food takes over your life, doctors say it's time to take control. Two steps can put most women on the road to recovery. It's important to find a more constructive way to make yourself feel good.
"Pleasant activity scheduling, whatever that is -- taking a job, going shopping, something you like to do, calling a friend," said Dr. Ashmore.
Dr. Ashmore uses cognitive therapy to help women find their core issue and deal with it without the help of food.
Doctors say if you don't tackle the problem early, harmless eating disorders can turn into obesity, heart disease, and even diabetes.
Having an eating disorder is much more than just being on a diet. Dieting is about losing a little bit of weight in a healthy way.
Eating disorders are about trying to make your whole life better through food and eating, or lack of.