What Makes Us Overeat?

Read time: 1.5 minutes

Time offers seven reasons that cause us to eat more than we need. The Lean Saloon has discussed many of these reasons, and we’ll continue to discuss them.

Scheduled Meals

One of the reasons we tend to eat more than necessary may be our mindless practice of the scheduled meal — i.e. breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or even our belief that eating 6 small meals a day is the way to go. These regularly scheduled mealtimes — as dictated arbitrarily by culture, tradition and so-called weight-control experts — diminish our sense of true hunger. We don’t even know when we’re hungry anymore. Instead, we eat just because it’s time to eat.

Hyper-flavored Foods

Another reason we overeat may be traced to foods that bombard our sensory system. These foods — heavily salted, sweetened, and greased — over-stimulate senses like smell, sight, and taste, which increase dopamine levels in the pleasure center of our brain, the nucleus accumbens. This powerful chemical pleasure motivates us to seek more of this reward, often at the expense of our well-being.

Insulin Stimulation

And of course, easy-digesting grains and grain-based carbohydrates make us eat more. These carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin, which can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and make us crave more food. And we likely eat more of the same appetite-stimulating, satiety-depressing foods. This on-going cycle can lead to Leptin resistance, which disrupts appetite control and satiety.

What Can We Do?

While the Time article is interesting, it doesn’t offer solutions. What can we do? The Lean Saloon discusses these solutions:

  • Intermittent Fasting. This eliminates the feeding frequency our bodies are used to, but don’t require. I.F. helps us get back in touch with our physical hunger, rather than being controlled by habitual hunger.
  • Avoid hyper-flavored foods. Avoiding these foods (also discussed here) can decrease the stimulation to the pleasure center of the brain, and up-regulates dopamine sensitivity to more natural foods, rather than requiring hyper-flavored foods for activation.
  • Eliminate grains and sugar. This helps control insulin, which can prevent or correct both insulin resistance and leptin resistance.

TLS will continue to explore these and other factors that control our health and body weight in future posts. Stay tuned!

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6 Responses to What Makes Us Overeat?

  1. Tammy says:

    A lot of what you said makes sense to me…especially about the hyper-flavored foods…I hate it when stuff tastes TOO good, lol. Great pics, by the way! Thanks for sharing and have a fabulous day! 🙂

  2. Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

    Thanks, Tammy. David Kessler published a very informative book called “The End of Hunger: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite,” which explains the mechanisms that control our appetite can be eliminated, if we know what they are. Just understanding the neurobiological responses we have to certain foods (those created by the food industry) is a huge step to correcting the obesity epidemic, and regaining personal health and proper body weight. It’s a very easy-to-read book.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605297852

  3. Grok says:

    I’m doing a protein sparing fast for the next two days before Thanksgiving. I’ll be eating with the Fam, but will not be partaking in their Western diet foods. I will be eating mashed Zucchini with butter and Turkey only.

    It’s going to be tough, because I actually have a pretty good insulin response to seeing and smelling, hyper-flavored foods. The drop in sugars makes it hard to control the urge to binge. Even if I stay out of the junk, I end up eating so much I might as well have eaten the junk.

    This is really what happened tonight. I could have stopped my hunger at any time with a 100 cal/15 carbs of Kombucha. I didn’t want those 15 carbs… so I snacked my way into 5,000 cal/145 carbs/345 fat/289 protein.

    I didn’t really care because I kind of wanted/needed to… but the bottom line is, had I gone with my first instinct it wouldn’t have happened.

    I’m taking lots of Kombucha to Thanksgiving to kill my hunger. LOL!

  4. Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

    @ Grok,

    As someone who grew up with Western foods, I also have the phantom-food response and my insulin probably kicks in (though with much lower magnitude) at the sight and smell and even knowledge of nearby hyper-favored foods. But I think the fact that I’m regularly in and out of ketosis through the year, the drop in what little blood glucose I maintain doesn’t really affect my appetite or energy level that much. My body is pretty efficient at using fat and ketosis for fuel.

    Over the years, I’ve found that hyper-flavored foods don’t motivate me to eat as much as they once did. I believe that the pleasure center of the brain (the nucleus accumbens) has been up-regulated for dopamine with non-hyper-flavored foods, like simple meats and vegetables that are sufficiently flavored with moderate salt and lots of herbs and spices. The natural flavors of these real foods are plenty to stimulate the pleasure center, thus making it easier for me to resist all the hyper-flavored foods around holiday meals, etc.

  5. Grok says:

    “has been up-regulated for dopamine with non-hyper-flavored foods, like simple meats and vegetables that are sufficiently flavored”

    Agreed. Real foods taste excellent to me and I really don’t have desires anymore. Fatty meat, veggies with butter… out of this world!

    Junk food: Out-of-sight, out-of-mind I’m fine. Hopefully with time I’ll desire them even less when in sight.

  6. Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

    “Fatty meat, veggies with butter… out of this world!”

    Amen, brother.

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