Overeating can be an addiction

Life 365    23-Mar-2020
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Overeating is a common problem. It can lead to numerous other problems, ranging from heartburn in the short term to obesity in the long term. It has also been found to be associated with many other symptoms, including abdominal pain, particularly in the upper gastrointestinal tract; bloating and diarrhea. Eating too much one time won't cause obesity but it may cause discomfort, pain and interference with sleep. Although we might expect that these symptoms would discourage people from overeating, unfortunately, the body adjusts to overeating by releasing dopamine — a natural pleasure chemical that encourages us to eat even more. So even if overeating causes pain and discomfort, we may feel compelled to continue overeating. This is an important part of how food addiction develops
 
All of us eat too much from time to time but if you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from overeating disorder. This disorder is a common eating disorder where you frequently eat large amounts of food while feeling powerless to stop and extremely distressed during or after eating. You may eat to the point of discomfort, then be plagued by feelings of guilt, shame or depression afterwards, beat yourself up for your lack of selfcontrol or worry about what compulsive eating will do to your body. And just to make the situation even more complicated, there is not just one type of overeating. It can happen as a result of how you feel, who you are with and many other factors. Here are ten of the most frequently cited types of overeating that can lead to pain and obesity, as can contribute to the development of food addiction.

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Binge eating
 
Binge eating involves consuming a large amount of food in a short space of time. Binges, by defi nition, require you to eat more food than people normally do and more food than you need. Binge eating can happen on a single occasion or it can become a regular way of eating, leading to problems. Although binge eating in itself does not necessarily constitute a food addiction or eating disorder, binge eating is a symptom of Binge Eating Disorder and the eating disorder Bulimia Nervosa.
 
Stress eating
 
Stress eating, although closely related to emotional eating, is more heavily driven by anxiety rather than depression and may be a way of fuelling overwork when the time is not taken for adequate breaks or meals.
Compulsive snacking Although eating two to three snacks a day between meals is often considered healthy, constant snacking, particularly on unhealthy snacks, can lead to overeating, whether the snacking is in place of or in addition to regular meals. Many overeaters fall into the trap of carefully planning three healthy meals a day but not including snacks in their calorie count, thereby inadvertently overeating.
 
Supersize meal portions
 
Supersize meal portions are commonly the extra-large portions of fast food or restaurant meal servings, whereby the food portion you buy is much larger than a normal meal portion. This can easily lead to consuming much larger amounts of food than necessary and, if eaten on a regular basis, can lead to obesity and poor nutrition.
 
Emotional eating
 
Emotional eating is frequently referred to as a way that women, in particular, eat when they feel upset or unhappy. The clichés of the girl eating a quart of ice cream after a bad breakupor the middle-aged women bingeing on carbs when she is unwell, are examples of "emotional eating" stereotypes. Unfortunately these stereotypes can lead to the very behaviour they portray in people who relate to them. What's more, men experience emotional eating as well.
 
Fast food
 
People who rely on fast food often overeat. Fast food is designed to stimulate overeating, typically by using a combination of sugar, saltand fat, all shown by research to be addictive. Although the ingredients of fast food may be poor quality and unappetizing, the addictive ingredients ensure a huge turnover of high-calorie food, which can lead to obesity and poor nutrition.
 
Sugar addiction
 
Sweet, sugary food is particularly addictive to many people. Some overeaters binge on confectionary or other sweet foods, with chocolate having a particular allure. Parents should be vigilant that their children do not develop sugar addiction, as daily sweets consumption in childhood is related to emotional diffi culties in adulthood, as well as obesity and tooth decay.
 
Comfort eating
 
While comfort eating can be healthy in moderation, people who eat in order to deal with distressing emotions may overeat and, in a similar way to stress eaters and emotional eaters, comfort eaters may fall into the trap of food addiction as their primary coping strategy.
 
Social eating
 
Social eating is a widely accepted practice and in moderation, can be a healthy activity. But people who are constantly under pressure to eat socially, such as those who routinely wine and dine others or people who meet over business meals, may be prone to overeating, particularly when the expectation is for large portions and high-calorie foods.
Boredom eating
 
Boredom eating is a mindless approach to food, in which a lack of stimulation in other areas of life leads to eating, just to feel something. Boredom eaters can be prone to binge eating, supersize portions, compulsive snacking, sugar addiction and fast food.