Home page Psychology blog Bad Habits Non-Chemical Addictions «I eat every night»: how we develop food addiction

“I eat every night”: how we develop food addiction

26.02.2019 Author: psiholog pavel horoshutin

We all know how to eat properly: pay attention to calories, eat fruits and vegetables, refrain from fast food and sweets. However, in the evening after work or at the weekend you may open your fridge, take your favorite dessert, start eating and suddenly you cannot stop.

Constant overeating does not simply become an obstacle on your way towards having a dream body, but also creates a vicious circle. After each “gluttony event” you start to feel guilt, shame and even disgust towards your own body.

What is compulsive overeating? Why we cannot bring our relationship with food in order by sheer willpower? Our article will help you find out.

Contents:

  1. Overeating is an eating disorder
  2. How overeating affects our life
  3. How to stop overeating

Overeating is an eating disorder

binge eating

People often consider overeating to be a simple lack of discipline, so they don’t ask for help. The sense of guilt and anger towards ourselves create the vicious circle.

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In reality, compulsive overeating, also referred to as hyperfagia, which can be psychogenic, is an eating disorder. It has been officially included in DSM-5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, in 2013.

If you often feel an uncontrollable desire to eat a lot of food and don’t stop even after feeling full, you are quite likely to have an eating disorder.

«Every day on my way home I go to a bakery or a grocery store and buy myself something tasty. I want to pamper myself and forget about all the troubles. It is food that brings me solace. I buy pastry, sausages, bread, mayonnaise, potato chips and a lot of other things. At home, I lay the table and eat everything I have cooked. I just cannot stop. I enjoy eating, I like the smell of freshly baked buns, I absolutely love tender pastry with a lot of custard creme. Afterwards, I look in the mirror and hate myself. I am always frustrated and in despair: I cannot stop eating once I started, but without tasty food life loses its meaning».

– Alla, suffers from overeating

People are still studying the  reasons for this disorder.  However, it is already clear that it comes from psychological causes. It is the sense of distress that is pushing us to seek relief in food. People often overeat sweet foods, salty foods or fatty and flavorful foods.

People suffering from compulsive overeating encounter rather unpleasant symptoms:

  • hey find it hard to concentrate on work;
  • they sense chronic fatigue;
  • they feel sick;
  • they are displease with themselves, other people and the whole world;
  • they have apathy, pessimistic view of the world and feel down;
  • they cry often;
  • they are prone to aggression and conflicts;
  • they find it hard to control their own mood.

Of course, many people enjoy tasty food and a good meal. However, the main difference between this and an eating disorder is that a person suffering from it continues to eat even after feeling full, ignoring their body’s needs. A tasty smell and an attractive look of their favorite food prompts them to start eating, but then the taste of food, its quality and attractiveness become irrelevant, while the amount of food consumed in one sitting only increases.

How overeating affects our life

overeating what to do

Even though overeating lacks clear consequences like alcohol or nicotine addiction do, one must never underestimate the effect such dietary pattern has on their health.

The main consequence of overeating is obesity.  According to Russian Statistics Agency, about 40% of working population in Russia between 19 and 60 are overweight due to excessive eating. Such habit leads to lack of self-confidence, dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, which can evolve into depression.

Some people manage to maintain slim bodies even with constant overeating and tend to think that their habit does not affect their bodies, but it is not true. Fat deposits in such people accumulate around internal organs. Such deposits are called visceral fat. Excessive amounts of this fat impede blood supply, which can lead to pathological conditions.

BMI, body mass index, can help to find out if a person is overweight. It represents the ratio between height and body weight.

BMI can only be used for approximation, as it does not take into account individual peculiarities of the body. World Health Organization proposed this rendering of the index:

Body mass indexRatio between body mass and height
16 or lowerSeverely underweight
16–18.5Underweight
18,5- 24,99Normal (healthy weight)
25-30Overweight (pre-obesity)
30-35Obese Class I (Moderately obese)
35-40Obese Class II (Severely obese)
40 or moreObese Class III (Very severely obese)

Obese people are at risk of developing complications and unpleasant symptoms that affect the quality of life:

1.Increased risk of severe cardiovascular diseases.

Overeating and obesity are some of the main causes for cardiovascular diseases. Excessive amount of nutrients leads to formation of fat deposits. This can cause the fatty degeneration of heart. Moreover, it leads to increase in blood volume and, therefore, impacts on blood vessels. According to statistics, it can cause  coronary heart disease in 20% of obese people and primary hypertension in 75% of people.

2. Dysfunction of pancreas gland.

This appears as a consequence of excessive consumption of fats and carbohydrates. Dysfunction of pancreas gland can lead to serious diseases, such as pancreatitis and diabetes. According to statistics, 60% of obese people develop Type II diabetes.

3. Skin problems

Consumption of food with high fat content can lead to appearance of acne. This happens due to stimulation of oil glands, which start to secrete subcutaneous fat.

4. Problems with libido.

Scientists have recently proven that obesity increases the risk of erectile dysfunction in men. 79% of men suffering from erectile impairment are on pre-obese or obese stages, which means that their body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher, while the normal BMI is 18.5–24.9.

The higher the weight, the more the person is at risk of erectile dysfunction: [1]

  • at the pre-obesity stage (BMI 25–30) the risk is 1.5 times higher;
  • at the obesity stage (BMI greater than 30) the risk of developing a disorder becomes 3 times higher.

Moreover, more than 50% of men with diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction, and the risk of developing diabetes is very high for obese people.

How to stop overeating

how to get rid of overeating

It can be extremely hard to escape the vicious circle of overeating.

Wherever we go, we encounter with food advertisements. Many families worship the tradition of gathering around the dinner table, and food becomes the only way to convey love. This can especially be felt during celebrations. People eat like there is no tomorrow.

However, when every day becomes such a feast, the consequences for our health are imminent: body weight grows, digestive and cardiovascular systems suffer from increased impact, and hormonal system cannot handle the amount of incoming nutrients.

If you have noticed the signs of overeating, we recommend you to consult specialists. Overeating can be defeated by changing the mode of behavior..

Our new  7Spsy method of behavior modification has been developed by the Institute of remote psychology. It will help you enjoy your life without having “gluttony events”. Our method is based on the traditional behavior psychology founded by I. P. Pavlov.

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The course lasts 2-6 weeks. The length of the course depends on the patient. As the result of taking the course, you will stop comforting yourself with food and being ashamed of your body, you will learn to feel full after having small portions of tasty food and start to enjoy outdoor activities.

Reference:

  1. Obesity — significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction in men]. Skrypnik D, Bogdański P, Musialik K. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2014 Feb;36(212):137-41. Review. Polish.