Why can't I stop Eating So much?

So, just why can't you stop eating so much? Maybe your weakness is one of these foods? Heaven knows there are about a zillion folks that just can't resist a Top Pot or Crispy Creme when given the chance. Just ask Golden Tate!

Everybody knows why you gain weight. You eat more calories than you use. It’s pretty simple, yet it is a perfect demonstration of the difference between simple and easy. It is a very simple concept. Fewer calories in that you use equals weight loss, while more calories in than you use equals weight gain. A third grader would have no trouble understanding it.

Implementing it however, is rarely so easy. Overeating, for whatever reason, is one of the most difficult behavior patterns to break. There are groups, drugs, supplements, websites, and books dedicated to stopping it, yet many people just can’t seem to. Well, there are some ways you may be able to stop eating so much, or at least implement some strategies that will make overeating less likely or not as harmful.

Eating can become an addictive behavior, much like drinking alcohol, smoking, or doing drugs. The big problem with eating is that it is something you have to do everyday. Unlike the other behaviors people become addicted  to, you can’t just swear it off, or stop it cold turkey. You have to eat, and not just once, but several times throughout the day. That means you’ll have to confront the demons of overeating every day, again and again. An alcoholic, once they stop drinking can avoid their nemesis. An over eater has no such ability. They need to be able to stare it in the face each and every day, and win.

If you can’t stop eating so much, you know exactly what I’m talking about. My biggest problem is eating late at night, when the food sits in your stomach as you sleep and creates an adipose bonanza around your belly. Whether you have a problem with certain foods, at certain times of the day, or in response to emotional conditions, you know all too well what it means, don’t you?

Perhaps you are always confronted with uncontrollable food cravings. You just feel ravenous and need to eat. Maybe it only happens after you’ve dealt with certain situations. You’re using food as a coping mechanism. Some folks just can’t resist certain foods, and indulge uncontrollably in them. You’re insatiable when it comes to these foods. Eating them only makes you want them that much more, and so goes the vicious cycle you just can’t seem to break.

How Can I Stop My Overeating?
If this all sounds familiar, you’re probably desperate for only one thing; a way to stop your overeating. What causes it, and more importantly, what can you do to stop it? You may overeat for spiritual, emotional or physical reasons. Part of your problem is likely physiological. It’s just the way your particular body and brain are built. We are all different and all respond to things differently.

Food is no exception. Different foods cause a different physiological response in different individuals. That’s why you can walk by a plate of cookies, but your friend can’t. She’ll eat them until they’re gone. (I understand that one all too well. For me it’s hot and  gooey oatmeal raisin ones) On the other hand, put a pizza down in front of you and the whole thing vanishes as if by magic.

It’s All About Chemistry, or it Can Be
While you may think that you just like those certain foods more than others and have a bit of a weakness for them, the reality is somewhat more difficult. Since 1985 the scientific community has recognized that some foods are actually physiological addictive to certain individuals. That year doctors Herzog and Copeland released a study, published in the highly respected New England Journal of Medicine detailing the physiologically addictive nature of certain foods.

It has to do with the way these foods interact with your brain chemistry. The doctors pointed to studies done on animals that demonstrated some foods altered brain chemistry to the point that the test subjects had trouble resisting certain foods. Not all individuals exhibited this behavior. Just as with humans it is a complex problem. Different individuals react to certain foods differently.

What is the Biggest Danger?
This food is a double whammy. It’s not only one of the most physiologically addictive foods, it is one of the foods that has shown the greatest propensity to make you fat. As you may have guessed, it’s sugar. Sugar is one of the hardest to resist for many people, and medical studies have revealed that it is at least partially due to its’ chemical makeup.

The way some people’s bodies respond to sugar make it a virtual certainty that they’ll eat it uncontrollably. This is troubling. If that’s you, you know that eating too much sugar is bad for you and contributes to obesity, yet you do it anyway. That causes severe stress, which in itself is a contributing factor to overeating.

To make matters worse, most packaged foods contain added sugar, often in tremendous amounts. This includes food that you wouldn’t expect to have much sugar, yet when you examine the ingredients label, you’ll see ti there, plain as day. In addition, there are often several kinds of sugar. It’s common to see high fructose corn sweetener, sugar, and various other sweeteners, which you can spot by looking for the ending “ose” If an ingredient ends in those three letters, it likely means sugar of one type or another. Sadly, it is almost more rare to find packaged and processed foods that contain no sugar than ones that have the stuff.

As I’ve posted on before, going low fat isn’t a panacea either, although there was a time a few years ago when we all thought low fat was a ticket to eat as much as we wanted to. If you read the ingredients list on those low fat foods however, you’ll typically notice high quantities of added sugar. How we ever thought that just because they were low fat, we could eat cookies and coffee cake with impunity, I’ll never know. It just doesn’t pass the smell test (although they do smell great!)

Another food that can be physiologically addictive for some people is white flour. I’ve posted on the evils of the powdery substance on many occasions here before. Part of the reason for it’s addictive properties is that it reacts very similarly to sugar in the body. Many foods contain white flour, so this can be difficult to avoid.

So, What Can I Do To Help Me Stop Eating So Much?
Unfortunately just knowing some foods are physiologically addictive is no cure in itself. At least now you know that there is a reason behind the whole thing. In some ways however it is even worse. Now it’s common to feel like you can never beat the problem because it’s due to biochemistry that’s beyond your control.

One thing that can help is to eat more meals each day, but make sure they are smaller. That is great fat loss advice in general, but can really help here, because it allows you to go only a few hours between meals, not the 5 or 6 hours that can lead to your wanting to eat everything in sight. James I. Hudson, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School points to the fact that binge eating can make you feel shameful and depressed, which ironically can lead to more of the behavior.

The key here is to try and avoid those physiological trigger foods that can cause your overeating. Recognize your condition and identify those foods which trigger your overeating. You will probably have to journal your eating for a while to pinpoint the exact causes. That journal has a double benefit, however. Research has shown that keeping a food journal is one of the most effective weight loss strategies around.

One you’ve discovered your overeating trigger foods, make sure that you don’t keep them around the house. It is much easier to avoid eating them if you’re not confronted by them every time you open the cupboard or refrigerator. Your family may have to help out on this one, too. After all, they may want to keep a package of cookies laying around. It’s important for your health that this not happen, so discuss the gravity of the situation with them, and find some other alternatives for healthy snacking they can turn to.

Some people have found success by substituting their unhealthy, danger foods with foods less likely to lead to obesity or other health problems. Typically those foods are lower in calories or higher i nutrition. After all, you can eat a heck of a lot of broccoli with no problems. For other folks, however that strategy is easier said than done.

There is no question that you can be upset over the prospect of giving up foods that you love. You’ll probably be a bit pissed off by the whole thing. It is much like giving up cigarettes. It’s difficult, your body will experience cravings for them, and you may be no pleasure to be around for a while.

Turn to exercise, which in itself can be an addictive behavior for some people. When you feel like eating, jump on the bike or hit the weights. In some cases this will release the same endorphins that are set forth by eating the foods that you crave, thus blunting the desire to scarf down some grub. Of course exercise has a double benefit, it can help take the place of eating, and also burn off some of the calories and fat you’re trying to get rid of.

You may have to visit your health care professional, or even a specialist, to help you beat your desire to keep eating. Recognizing the problem can be triggered by certain foods is certainly a big help, though. Have you recognized some foods that you can’t stop eating, no matter how hard you try, and they seem to contribute to your weight problem out of all proportion to other foods? If you have, you’re at least one step ahead of the game. Have you found anything that’s helped you avoid overeating that could possibly help others? If you have, leave it in the comments so they can benefit from your discovery.