October 27, 2021 l by Tara E.
Many people associate overeating or obesity with poor willpower and lousy eating habits. Surprisingly, food addiction may be the true culprit. Often, those who suffer from obesity are encouraged to change how they eat and get more exercise. However, research shows that the cure to beating obesity may not be as simplistic as one might think.
What is Food Addiction?
In the same way that drugs can impact people, food addiction can also trigger compulsive eating behavior in some individuals. These feelings are not the same as what the average person might equate to hunger. Instead, food addiction becomes a mechanism used to cope with wide ranges of emotion or moods including depression, anger, frustration, stress or anxiety.
According to the Archives of General Psychiatry, the brains of women who have symptoms of food addiction respond to the prospect of delicious food in much the same way as the brain of a drug addict responds to the idea of drugs. In one study, thirty-nine women received a chocolate shake. Researchers observed their brain response after seeing the chocolate shake. As was expected, the parts of the brain associated with anticipation and craving were activated just by the mere image of the chocolate shake among those women with symptoms of food addiction. Once they tasted the shake, the parts of their brain that should signal them to slow down showed decreased activity, essentially encouraging them to seek more chocolate shakes. Leptin, an appetite hormone, is thought to be at the root of food addiction. This theory exists because leptin triggers the brain to recognize when it is we feel full after eating. However, studies show that obese individuals may not respond to leptin in the way that others do, meaning they are not as sensitive to its release.
Ultimately, this makes them less likely to stop eating when others would experience satisfaction and fullness.
What Causes Leptin Imbalance
The following factors may contribute to Leptin Sensitivity:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Poor stress management
- Eating too many carbs
- Exercising too much
- Too much sweetener/sugar substitute intake
How to Stop Food Addiction
There are a few ways to reset your Leptin Sensitivity so that it suppresses your appetite.
Change Your Eating Habits
Protein for breakfast, leafy greens, and fiber-rich goods may have the most significant impact. Additionally, limiting or reducing carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes, flour-enriched foods, or heavy meals can positively affect your eating habits.
Step Away from the Sugar
Another way to reset your leptin levels is to stop eating sugar. Sugar is a mean condiment to keep in your diet. This statement is particularly true if leptin is working against you. Sugar has a ridiculous way of triggering leptin resistance –even when you try to take the high road and use sweeteners in its place. To reverse leptin resistance, try decreasing your consumption of sugar and staying away from sweeteners.
Go to Bed
Next, get a little sleep. Our bodies prefer it when we give it adequate time to recover. Try going to bed by no later than ten. Look for ways to not only increase the number of hours you sleep at night but for ways to sleep better. Sometimes, the things we do before bed and how we sleep, can have a negative impact on the quality of our sleep.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Yoga, walking, cycling, Zumba, or even swimming are excellent ways to add physical activity into your daily routine. First, try to work on increasing your exercise over time. Next, exercise but don’t overdo it, and finally, work on better managing your stress.
In closing, you now have a few answers to the question of how to overcome food addiction. It may be as simple as changing your lifestyle and addressing unhealthy coping strategies. If you suspect that you are addicted to food, you should consider getting professional help or speaking with your healthcare provider. There are many onsite and virtual treatment options for helping you to identify the best path to conquering food addiction, including but not limited to 12-step programs, psychiatrists, drug therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.