The Science Behind Overeating - Deepstash

The Science Behind Overeating

Researchers know that people who struggle with emotional eating and binge eating have trouble calming down when faced with conflict and upsetting feelings . Turning to food is one way to distract from and cope with these unpleasant feelings.

For individuals predisposed to binge eating, overeating releases dopamine, a 'feel-good' chemical in the brain that elicits pleasure.

Once these warm and cozy feelings fade, shame reemerges, as does the urge to overeat, leading to a troubling cycle.

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MORE IDEAS FROM Overeating during a crisis? Research says don’t beat yourself up — try being kind

How Self-Compassion Breaks The Overeating Cycle

Using self-compassion to deal with emotions can calm the emotional and physical stress that fuels unhealthy eating behavior:

  • Self-directed kindness can ease the flight-or-fight response by activating the soothing part of the brain.
  • Once the body relaxes, the tough emotions begins to settle, which helps people think more clearly about their eating behavior.
  • Self-compassion is an exercise in shame resilience. One way to do it is to talk to ourselves the same way we would speak to a friend.

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Overeating During The Pandemic

To tackle disordered eating, whether during a crisis or not, we must understand why we’re overeating, then take steps to break the cycle of anxiety, shame and sadness that characterizes the disorder. One way to do that, studies have shown, is through something we can all especially benefit from: self-compassion.

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Being in Control

To be in control does not mean restraining. A person who is in control should have the capacity and freedom to self-govern.

Rather than fighting with your body, provide it with an autonomous control by allowing all kinds of foods back in your life, yet eating consciously, paying attention to your meals, savoring them fully. Being mindful can maximize your pleasure and minimize your eating.

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Self-compassion is something we should be practicing every day, but the reality is that a lot of people struggle even to define what it means.

Self-compassion is the act of noticing when you're struggling, recognizing that's actually part of being human, and being kind to yourself rather than beating yourself up.

Self-compassion builds resilience , which helps us withstand the challenges of life. “It allows us to weather difficulty without sending us into a spiral of self-criticism or self-blame or shame.” That’s one way that it promotes psychological well-being.

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Befriending yourself

From a young age, we learn how to be a good friend to others. We learn how to share and to treat others how we want to be treated.

Yet, many of us don't receive guidance on how to treat ourselves with kindness. We might even believe that being kind towards ourselves is self-indulgent or weak.

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