Why Can’t I Stop Overeating?
A change in eating habits can be a positive experience; however, if we’re not careful the process can quickly devolve into toxic thinking. This is especially true for those of us who struggle with food and are looking for surefire weight loss solutions.
It usually begins with food labels. Now, we’re not talking about nutrition information, in this case, rather the labels we apply to certain types of food such as kale versus cookies.
Labeling foods as "good" and "bad" is a guaranteed way to increase stress and create negative associations with eating. The second you label a food “bad”, you begin to think about it in a new light. You may develop a fear of the food or an obsession with it. The food will suddenly claim more of your emotional energy and you will spend more time thinking about it than you usually might. Worse, because it’s off-limits, you’ll likely want it even more, and if you decide to give in and let yourself enjoy the ‘forbidden fruit’, your enjoyment will be short-lived and quickly replaced by guilt and feelings of failure.
When foods get labels and start having moral implications, it’s more difficult to make healthy choices and recover from perceived failures. Toxic diet beliefs come in many forms:
- Elimination (ie. no more sugar, no more pasta)
- Needing to excuse our choices to others
- Equating body weight to health
- Atoning with exercise
- Cleanses & detoxes
- Guilty pleasures
- Earning food
- Cheat days
Deprived Binge Eating
If you're trying to better your habits after bariatric surgery or you are on a restrictive diet to avoid the procedure, you're a likely candidate for binge eating. In many cases, binge eating is a biological response to food deprivation - whether you've deprived yourself physically by eliminating food or emotionally through toxic thinking.
The more you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, the stronger the urge for binging that food becomes; once the binge occurs, a new cycle begins and we immediately begin to set ourselves up again for subsequent failure.
At Bariatric Health & Wellness, we offer a wide range of foods, from complete meals to sweet and savory snacks. We know that in order for a long-term strategy to be effective, people like yourself need easy and affordable access to foods they actually enjoy. That includes crunchy cheese bites, creamy chicken dishes, and moist chocolate chip cookies, among many options. With foods designed to keep up with your caloric means while still meeting your tastebuds' demands, you'll be more likely to succeed and break the cycle of restriction and binge eating!
Emotional Binging or Just Emotional Eating?
While it's not uncommon or inherently bad to let food soothe us on occasion, making these choices on a regular basis ultimately leads to a calorie surplus that causes noticeable and long-term weight gain. This is emotional eating, and everyone does it from time to time.
Emotional eating is characterized by:
- Wanting more even after eating plenty
- Experiencing a sudden urge to eat
- Eating to feel better or safer
- Craving very specific foods
- Eating as a reward
- Eating to excess
The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your triggers. What brought on the urge to comfort eat and toss aside all mindful eating practices in the first place? Get curious about your feelings and thoughts, allow yourself to sit in emotions, and give yourself the space you deserve to think, learn and grow.
Establishing mindful eating habits is just one part of the healing process. Your journey will be long and there will be many bumps in the road. We encourage a well-rounded approach, and for many people, that includes seeking help for binge eating from a mental health professional. If you need help to heal and recover from BED, don’t be afraid to ask.
The Science Behind Overeating
The body is a complex system. Its parts don't function in isolation and there are many parts in play when it comes to processing food, storing fat and weight loss. In this blog, we'll be talking about Leptin and its role in obesity. Leptin is a biological contributor to obesity, which is a critical piece of knowledge for patients who are trying to lose weight. Equipping yourself with all of the relevant knowledge will allow you to take the right approach to weight loss, which includes a healthy emotional and mental outlook on the process. Understanding that obesity isn't caused by a lack of willpower or laziness is one crucial component to taking charge of your health once and for all.
Leptin is created by fat cells. In an average-weight person with a healthy BMI, where fat cells are evenly distributed, Leptin is produced in order to decrease appetite. This appetite suppressor is lower in people who are underweight and much higher in someone who is obese. The most simple explanation is that the more fat you have, the higher the levels of leptin will be in your blood. That said, there are some additional factors in play, which we will not discuss at this time. The question we want to address - the one you may already be asking yourself - is, "If my leptin levels are high, why am I still hungry?"
In fact, many studies have been conducted based on this very question and have all found the same thing: when exposed to high levels of leptin over an extended period of time, the body develops a resistance to leptin's appetite-cutting effects. When your brain doesn't receive the leptin signal, it erroneously thinks that your body is starving. This may be one reason that many diets fail to promote long-term weight loss.
Leptin resistance is just one of the components of obesity, but if you've ever wondered by it's so difficult to stop yourself from overeating, you should know that leptin may play a pivotal role. So how do you reverse this trend?
Leptin resistance is tricky and it's not clear whether or not it can be entirely reversed. Here's what we do know:
It’s important never to self-diagnose medical issues and to consider that there are various health risks associated with obesity beyond leptin resistance. Please make an appointment with your GP to discuss the appropriate blood tests necessary to determine your overall health. If you are located in Birmingham and choose to become part of the local weight loss program, you will undergo a physical examination with Dr. Morgan, an EKG and routine lab work consisting of a CBC, Chem 24, lipid profile, liver enzyme function and thyroid panel.