Could Your Weight Gain Be the Result of Emotional Overeating?
Weight gain is frustrating enough, but when you can’t seem to identify the cause(s) of it, the frustration is compounded. Emotional overeating is a somewhat sneaky problem – because it can involve mindless eating, it’s the sort of thing that can occur without you realizing it. If you are having trouble figuring out what’s causing your weight gain, here are some tips on identifying emotional overeating (as opposed to just overeating).
Seemingly Unexplainable Weight Gain
If you are gaining weight and you can’t seem to figure out why, this is (ironically) a sign that the problem may lie with emotional overeating. As noted above, you often don’t know you’re doing it when it comes to emotional overeating. You may even be working out regularly and preparing healthy meals and still gaining weight, because you are mindlessly eating other foods when you feel negative emotions.
A Sudden Urge
Sources say that emotional “hunger” comes on quite suddenly, perhaps in the form of an irresistible craving for a certain food or just the urge to eat right now. True hunger is usually more gradual than that – unless you have low blood sugar or have gone a very long time without eating, true hunger does not usually take the form of an urgent need to eat a whole lot right away.
More and more the connection between emotional overeating and depression is being discovered. Do you feel depressed periodically? When you even think of feeling depressed, what goes through your mind? How do you cope? If you are picturing a big serving of your favorite comfort food, then this may be a sign that your overeating is emotion-based.
Are you going through a stressful time in your life simultaneous to your weight gain? Have you seen that pattern before? Stress, with its accompanying anxiety and other negative feelings, can trigger someone to overeat in response to those feelings.
Stress contributes to one of the most dangerous and growing conditions in North America, namely, obesity. In a society where 65 percent of people are overweight and 31 per cent are clinically obese, chronic stimulation of the HPA axis can be viewed as one of the most dangerous risk factors for our health.
Cortisol inhibits the release of leptin, the hormone that reduces our appetite after a meal, and “jump-starts” your metabolism.
It also increases the release of insulin in response to carbohydrate load, promoting fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region where white fat cells have three times the number of cortisol receptors on their surface.
To make matters worse CRH and cortisol block the production and binding of both serotonin and dopamine. This combination of imbalanced hormones destabilizes mood and stimulates food cravings.
Stress, via cortisol, also increases the physical craving for carbohydrates. Cortisol production triggers the release of a brain chemical called neuropeptide Y, which causes the desire for carbohydrate consumption.
** This biochemical mechanism is the reason that many people overeat sweets and starchy foods when they are under stress. **
How do you feel after you eat? Are you consumed with guilt? Do you feel ashamed? These feelings are signs that you have a problem with emotional overeating. Normal eating to satisfy normal hunger does not make a person feel guilty.
As many parents know, genuine hunger usually means that you’re more open to various food options. In emotional overeating, though, cravings may be so specific that no other food will do to satisfy your “hunger.” You feel like you have to have that particular food to feel satisfied.
Visit our page on mental health to read about how having high histamine can cause food addictions.