So, you are fully kitted out in your exercise gear and donned your best training shoes to head to pump iron at the gym! Post the workout your tummy begins to growl with hunger pangs which is natural considering the calories burnt.
Suddenly you think how about having a bit of pizza today? However, let’s face it most of us have experienced that feeling of having something yummy and then decide instead of a piece or two to finish it. After all, you have had a hectic day and why worry you just completed a strenuous workout, right?
The problem is within a short time you are back home relaxing, watching TV and that familiar gnawing feeling begins in your tummy again. You muse, why not balance salty with something sinfully sweet?
While most binge at some time or the other, after all, when there is something sumptuous available it is hard to resist the temptation. Thankfully, most do it just on occasions although some do have a food addiction.
When one shows a complete lack of restraint to consume excessive food, despite being aware of the negative binge eating consequences, while still wanting to refrain, it is diagnosed as food addiction. Binge eating disorder is quite common among a large segment of the population worldwide.
Research has shown that some food items are more addictive than the rest e.g., sugars rich in sugar/fat. While they are delicious, they are rich in calories and harmful. If it begins as a restriction followed by binge eating it shows an eating disorder.
Binge eating causes depression, affects the metabolism and digestive issues among a slew of other medical ailments. It also is a leading cause of imbalances in the endocrine system and makes one susceptible to a variety of health issues.
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Binge Eating Causes
While some people are genetically predisposed, many modern foods are customized to tempt people to have more of them. They are specially prepared by food chemists in labs to exceed the flavor aspects of regular food. E.g., Fred chicken is so much tastier than boiled.
Foods rich in sugar, salt, and fat are highly addictive and like any drug addiction release the same chemicals and affect the same areas of the brain. Of course, it is not just magic in food labs but an inherent trait from our ancestors to feast on these foods for energy when food was scarce. Salt helped in water retention, food rich in fats helped to build energy reserves, etc.
What was once necessary to survive has now become a craving. With increasingly tasty foods easily available and relatively cheap it has led to people overeating. Our modern lifestyles have also led to various excesses including one of the most common – binge eating and alcohol that go hand in hand. These two are a double whammy with alcohol and binge eating weight gain an increasingly common phenomenon.
Striking the right balance is something humans are still trying to figure out albeit with limited success in most cases. Having a balanced intake of macro and micronutrients gives a healthy body composition.
Effects of Over Eating on the Human Body
Whenever we eat irrespective of the nutrient composition dopamine is released. The hormone dopamine is a chemical that makes one feel good. Foods that are rich in sugar and fat trigger more dopamine release. Consequently, on eating such food it feels terrific, initially. Once the feeling wanes most tend to feel excessively full that may be accompanied by a feeling of guilt of having overeaten. Besides the emotional aspect, it also is physically harmful to the body.
Overeating is categorized as eating fast and without control that impacts the heart and the metabolic rate. It is one of the leading causes of obesity due to metabolic syndrome with a direct link to heart disease.
It impacts the pancreas that releases excessive insulin that in the long run causes insulin resistance. The body does not absorb essential nutrients and leads to chronic health issues. When one binges, the body is flushed with fat, sugar, and excess calories that affect energy levels and hormone production. It causes inflammation, bloating, fat storage, rise in cholesterol and many more medical issues.
If excessive eating becomes regular it will have an almost permanent impact on metabolism. Hunger and satiation levels go off-track leading to one overeating more. The body needs more food to derive the same pleasure because of Dopamine down-regulation. Fat storage rises because of changes in leptin levels. The capacity to eat food increases causing more needed to be eaten to get satisfied.
It affects the body’s inner clock (circadian rhythm) and causes depression. It makes one lethargic and wanting to rest and eat more junk food items.
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Tips to Prevent and Recover From Binge Eating
The good news is you need not ration what you eat if you eat in moderation. No one needs to deprive their body of all kinds of food even fats and sugars if the portion is regulated. Non-deprivation will help to control overeating unhealthy food.
Another way is to develop a taste for natural food over processed with practice. This can be done over time.
If one focuses on eating healthy first, the likelihood of binging on unhealthy stuff later reduces because the stomach gets full quicker. Foods like veggies and rich in nutrients fill the stomach fast.
The trick is to identify foods that trigger overeating. These are mostly processed foods because of their high calorific values. Remember, anything, where one loses control over the quantity consumed, is a trigger food.
Maintaining a food journal is an effective way to keep a check on what one eats. A mention of the feeling associated with eating any kind of food will be very insightful in controlling eating habits.
In the end, one needs to decide what works best for them to control their dietary habits. While a few methods might work for some they might not for others. It is through trial and error that the best results are obtained.