Overcoming Compulsive Overeating
68.8% of Americans are overweight; half of which, 34.4%, are considered obese (BMI 30+). Cause of this? Well, overeating of course. Sure, lack of exercise is a critical factor too, but one can maintain a healthy weight without habitual exercise (recall many desk-work people or techies), so it's possible for everyone else too, if they wanted to. What I've come to realize is that it's not really the fact of feeling starved that causes people to eat so much; I mean, most of us regret stuffing ourselves because we feel really sluggish afterward, so the satisfaction isn't exactly linked to fullness.
"The brain receives the signal of fullness and doesn't fully enact it until about 20 minutes later", yes, also true, but you could feel yourself be full much sooner if the transmission wasn't blocked by some other stimulation.
We're told to eat slowly --chew precariously, 60 times a bite or whatever, but do you know why that really is?
As we know, food releases endorphins, stimulations that cause our autonomous bodily functions to concentrate on digestion. Well, when we take that first bite, you know how it feels so amazing? Well, that's because of the unexpected rush of sensation; the brain loves sensation; that's how it learns, grows, and feels alive. With every bite, more and more senses are stimulated, and like the drugs that our endorphins are, we crave more, and more, when honestly, we'll get the same satisfaction had we slowly savored every bite.
So, we either stop eating once we get the message that our stomachs are about to explode, or when we finally realize that we've had enough of a certain food's stimulation.
Sugar, glucose, is crucial for most of our bodily functions: cell respiration, energy expenditure, brain processes; it also gives the most amount of stimulation to our senses, hence why I believe most people are attracted to sweets; not only do they look appetizing, but one touch to the taste buds and we're transported into blissful euphoria!
Imagine a scenario where Person A was given a plain garden salad, and person B given the same but with sweet toppings such as Craisins or raisins, and, given that they're both the average person and have no craisin/raisin addiction, Person B is more likely to finish their salad quicker and chew less times per bite than Person A; why? because of the glucosic stimulation.
Now, this is all theory, of course, so don't hold me 100% to it, but I believe that it's an interesting key to take note of.
So, basically, we eat more because we crave the stimulation; if we take notice to how we're eating food: gobbling it up or treasuring every bite, we'll notice the difference in our portions.
I challenge you to fix a small portion --a serving size for those whom are used to eating full plates, or half a serving size for those whom stick to the label-- of your favorite food, and see how you feel after consumption if you slowly savor each bite. Try to give yourself at least 15 minutes to eat the portion.
You may find yourself satiated quicker and maybe even tired of the stimulation simulated by the food; when you're scarfing down ten huge bites a minute, you're overstimulating yourself to the point where your mind can't keep up and the satiated signal, Leptin, is inhibited.
Also, instead of focusing on finishing your plate to get more, focus on your plate only; like this is the only amount of this meal that you'll receive; because honestly it's as much as you'll probably need. Most of us tend to focus on scarfing down to rush and get more, but why? Why not just get as much of the sensation from what we've already got?
Another thing is, don't trick your mind into believing you're hungry or that you want something. Surrounding yourself with deliciously stimulating junk foods will lead your mind to crave that sensation and link your hypothalamus to tell your good ol' pituitary gland to secrete ghrelin, tricking you into believing that you're hungry enough to eat.
The Japanese say to eat with your eyes, and that is really a great way to control your eating habits. After eating, if you still think you want to eat more, but you know your pant button will pop at any moment, just imagine yourself eating and simulate the sensation of the flavor; it's almost the same as actually consuming and feeling regret afterward. If just the idea of replicating the sensation isn't enough, active your ol'factory senses; smell and indulge the food; you'll be receiving the same stimulation.
Now, many may not agree with what I've hypothesized, but ideas are shared until disproved, so I hope that I've at least sparked some interest.