Do you often find yourself eating more than you meant to? Ignoring the the healthy food in your fridge and going for the sweet or salty processed stuff that you crave? Sitting in front of the television, or in your car, mindlessly shoving food in your mouth, even though you aren’t really hungry? Hiding how much you eat? After these eating sessions, do you feel ashamed and wonder why you can’t stop once you get started?
This is what is known as binge eating. Binge eaters have frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food, but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting. Binge eating leads to obesity and the health risks that are associated with clinical obesity such as:
High blood pressure
High cholesterol levels
Binge eating can be an addiction, much like alcohol and other drugs. It often stems from the same place that other addictions come from—prior trauma, depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy—and abusing food is a coping mechanism for regulating emotions just like drug and alcohol abuse is.
Most people are prone to emotional binge eating at one time or another—as a source of comfort when feeling sad or lonely, or even as part of celebrating good news. But when emotional eating, or binge eating, becomes the norm instead of an occasional occurrence, it becomes a problem.
Sondra Kronberg, a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), said there are three components to binge eating.1
Food can become a coping mechanism after emotional trauma, such as a divorce or loss of a family member. Also, some people have genetic predispositions toward depression, low-self esteem and anxiety. “When they feel angry, they eat; when lonely, they eat,” Kronberg said, explaining, “What the world cannot fix, food does. It’s their best friend and comfort.”
When people don’t eat properly, or are on diets that leave their bodies feeling deprived, it can lead to cravings and binge eating. In these cases, the body is literally crying out for nutrients and when it is not given what it needs, it leads to an increased demand for ever more food.
Behaviors like skipping breakfast or leading sedentary lifestyle can lead to overeating. When people lead their lives in unhealthy ways, their eating habits tend to follow suit.
Can just being aware of why you overeat help keep you from doing it? Probably not. But, being educated about the behavior and it’s underlying causes can help you to be mentally prepared to make changes with the help of a therapist, a health coach, or in a support group setting. Any of these options can help you to modify your behavior and make better choices for long-term health.
Other ways of redirecting the emotional energy that leads you to overeat are getting exercise, writing in a journal, or focusing on any other number of activities that don’t involve food consumption—reading a book, going to a yoga class, getting a massage, walking your dog, or spending time with family and friends.
For more information on this subject, contact us at 855-436-3849. Genetix Program’s team of doctors, certified coaches/trainers and nutritionists can help you make healthier lifestyle choices through daily phone coaching. You can do it and we can help!