Most people consider overeating to be nothing more than a bad habit. However, researchers believe overeating is a neurological disorder comparable to a drug or alcohol addiction. Being overweight is a rapidly growing global issue costing us 2.8 million deaths per year. Now, scientists are looking at the changes overeating makes in our brains, and the results are scary, to say the least.
Effects of Overeating on the Brain
Back in 2012, a study found that overeating can cause a malfunction in brain insulin signaling, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Researchers found that when someone overeats, it then impairs the brain’s ability to suppress the breakdown of fat in adipose tissue by secreting insulin.
What the New Study Says
This year, one study analyzed the vicious cycle between overeating and dopamine release. Researchers realized that the pleasure center of our brains and our biological clock are connected. So, when we eat high-calorie foods, which release dopamine or happy hormones, they disrupt our regular feeding schedules, leading to overeating.
This vicious cycle is why some researchers believe overeating can be as disruptive to our health as a substance abuse issue.
Researchers also found that overeating often involves the indulgence of high-caloric and fatty foods rather than healthy alternatives. Overall, they’ve linked these foods with countless conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
Long-term Effects of Overeating
While we’re familiar with the short-term effects of overeating – feeling full, exhaustion, sleepiness – most people don’t realize the long-term impact overeating can have on their bodies.
- The stomach can expand beyond its average size, pushing other organs around.
- Organs need to work harder and secrete extra hormones to help break down the food.
- Excess acid production to break down food can lead to heartburn.
How to Stop Overeating?
Whether you look at overeating as a bad habit or a mental health issue, know that there are ways to stop. Controlling your eating habits is all about taking a more mindful approach to the way you eat and the food choices you make.
- Pay attention to your portion sizes.
- Avoid distractions while eating; try mindful eating.
- Drink a glass of water before, during, and after your meals.
- Keep a food journal to notice your patterns.
- Start meal prepping to manage your portions.
If you can’t control your overeating habits, consider speaking with a mental healthcare professional to discuss your options. Overeating can also be the result of anxiety, depression, or other unresolved conditions. Please know that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel, and with the right support, you’ll tackle your overeating habits in no time.