Are You An Overeater?
Type 1. Compulsive Overeaters
These people tend to get stuck on thoughts of food. They hear the ice cream in the freezer calling their name—over and over and over again. They get so focused on the French fries they are going to order for lunch that they forget something important. They often feel compulsively driven to eat and often say they have no control over food. They tend to be night time eaters because they worry and have sleep disturbance.
The Compulsive Overeater: This type is associated with holding grudges and having problems with argumentative behavior. No matter what you ask them, their first is almost automatically no. Even if they would really like to say yes.
What makes compulsive overeaters worse?
The following types of diets, beverages, supplements, and medications can make this type worse and make it almost impossible to stick to a weight-loss plan. High protein diets. Don't avoid protein completely, just focus more on healthy carbohydrates.
Caffeinated beverages or caffeine pills
Diet pills, such as phentermine
Stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall
What works for compulsive overeaters?
Increasing serotonin, which is calming to the brain. Also, learning how to get unstuck from thoughts about food and worries will work. Eat complex carbohydrates and other brain healthy foods that help the body produce more serotonin.
- Brown Rice
- Cottage Cheese
- Herbal teas
- Sunflower Seeds
- Swiss cheese
- Turkey (recommend skinless)
- Get enough physical exercise, which boosts serotonin levels.
- Avoid nighttime eating after dinner. New research suggests that people who eat late at night gain even more weight than people who eat the same number of calories during the day. It seems that eating late at night throws off your internal clock so that your body decides to store more fat.
- Don’t skip breakfast or go too long between meals. If you get a thought in your head more than three times, do something to distract yourself.
- Make a list of ten things you can do instead of eating; distract yourself.
- Avoid automatically opposing others or saying no, even to yourself.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try a gass of warm milk with a teaspoon of vanilla and a few drops of stevia.
- Supplements, such as 5-HTP, the B vitamin inositol, L-tryptophan, and St. John’s wort increase serotonin. Good scientific evidence shows that 5-HTP helps with weight loss.
Type 2. Impulsive Overeaters
People with this type struggle with impulsivity and have trouble controlling their behavior, even though they begin each day with good intentions to eat well. They don't think about food constantly, but whenever they see it, they can’t resist. If they drive past their favorite burger joint, they are likely to stop even if they aren't really hungry. It’s almost impossible to say no when someone offers then a second-or third or fourth slice of pizza, piece of cake, or helping of mashed potatoes.
What Makes Impulsive Overeaters Worse
Anything that boosts serotonin in the brain will calm the brain and make the impulsive eater worse because it can lower both your worries and your impulse control, giving new meaning to the term fat and happy. Things that deplete dopamine levels are also a problem. These include:
Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar deplete dopamine
Serotonin-enhancing supplements, such as 5-HTP
Serotonin-enhancing medications, such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Lexapro
What Works for Impulsive Overeaters
Increase dopamine! Eat brain healthy foods that are high in phenylalanine and tyrosine, the building blocks for creating dopamine.
Dopamine boosters include:
- Chicken (skinless)
- Cottage Cheese
- Oat Flakes
- Ricotta Cheese
- Turkey (skinless)
- Yogurt (low-fat and unsweetened)
- Higher-protein diets that are low in simple carbohydrates (this means it's okay to eat zucchini but not the zucchini muffins; okay to eat the carrots but not the carrot cake) will help.
- Exercise, (choose something you like to do), helps increase dopamine and blood flow to the brain
- Focus by making a list of weight and health goals. Put it where you can see it everyday.
- Line up a "supervisor". Have someone you trust check in with you on a regular basis to help you stay focused. Avoid impulsively saying yes to offers for more food or drink and practice saying, "No, thank you. I'm full."
- From a supplement standpoint, Rhodiola, L-Tyrosine and Green Tea are helpful.
Type 3. Impulsive-Compulsive Overeaters
People with this type have a combination of both impulsive and compulsive features. On the surface it seems almost contradictory. How can you be both impulsive and compulsive at the same time? You are driven to do something (that is the compulsion). Then, once you start you cannot stop (that is impulsive).
These people often think about food all day long! For some, it can be 8:30 a.m., and they are already daydreaming about the exact meal they are going to have for dinner that night. Then, as they drive home from work on their way to that delectable meal, they pass by a fast-food restaurant and think, “hey, some french fries would go really well with that. I’d better stop.” The next thing they know, they have ordered not only a side of fries but also a cheeseburger and a milk shake, which they devour in the car on the way home. Once they get home, they are not longer hungry but they can’s resist the lure of that dinner meal that is waiting in the fridge. About 3,000 calories, 80 g saturated fat, and 100 g sugar later, they feel sick and disgusted with themselves and vow to do better tomorrow.
What Makes Impulsive-compulsive Overeaters Worse?
Using serotonin or dopamine interventions by themselves usually makes the problem worse. For example: Using a serotonin medication or supplement helps to calm the compulsions but makes the impulsivity worse. Using dopamine medication or supplements helps to lessen the impulsivity but increases the compulsive behaviors. They need to combine their supplements to manage both.
What Works for impulsive-Compulsive Overeaters?
Avoid automatically opposing others or saying no, even to yourself
Avoid impulsively saying yes
Distract yourself if you get a thought stuck in your head
For supplements, combining L-tyrosine (for dopamine) and 5-HTP (for serotonin) can be helpful
Type 4. Sad or Emotional Overeaters
People with this type tend to use food to medicate underlying feelings of sadness and to calm the emotional storms in their brain. They often struggle with feelings of boredom, loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, and pain issues. Sad or emotional over eaters may also experience decreased libido, periods of crying, low energy levels, suicidal thoughts, and a lack of interest in usually pleasurable activities, as well as feelings of guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. For some people, these feelings come and go with the seasons and tend to worsen in the winter. Others experience mild feelings of chronic sadness, called dysthmia. Still others suffer from more serious depressions. This type is more commonly seen in women.
What makes sad or emotional overeaters worse?
Certain behaviors can keep you mired in the sadness, including:
What Works for Sad or Emotional Overeaters?
If you are a sad or emotional overeater, focus on activities and interventions that energize you and lift your mood.
Exercise increases blood flow to multiple neurotransmitters in the brain and has been shown to be a mood booster. Several studies have found it to be as effective as antidepressant medication.
Write down five things you are grateful for every day. This has been shown to increase your level of happiness in just three weeks.
Volunteer to help others, which helps to get you outside of yourself and less focused on your own internal problems.
Surround yourself with great smells, such as lavender . This scent of lavender has been the subject of countless research studies, which show that it reduces cortisol levels and promotes relaxation and stress reduction.
Use melatonin to help you sleep
Work to improve your relationships. Social bonding can help calm hyperactivity in the deep limbic system and enhance your mood.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more fish, walnuts, avocadoes, and green leafy vegetables and/or taking a fish oil supplement. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with depression and obesity.
Vitamin D supplements can help.
Try DHEA. DHEA is a master hormone that has been found to be low in many people with depression and obesity. Supplementing DHEA has good scientific evidence that it is helpful for weight loss.
- Another helpful treatment for emotional overeaters is the natural supplement SAMe, in dosages of 400 to 1,600 mg.
Type 5. Anxious Overeaters
People with this type tend to medicate their feelings of anxiety, tension, nervousness, and fear with food. They may be plagued by feelings of panic, fear, and self-doubt, and suffer physical symptoms of anxiety, such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and sore muscles. They have an overload of tension and emotion. People with this type tend to predict the worst and are often waiting for something bad to happen. They may be excessively shy, easily startled, and freeze in emotionally charged situations.
What Makes Anxious Overeaters Worse?
Certain behaviors and substances can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and make you more likely to eat in an attempt to make those feelings go away. For example:
Focusing on the negative
Believing every negative thought you have
For some anxious overeaters, consuming too much caffeine or other stimulating substances
What Works for Anxious Overeaters?
Interventions to boost GABA combined with relaxation techniques that calm the brain are generally helpful. As with Sad or Emotional Overeaters, many of the people have found that using strategies to calm anxiety led to significant weight loss.
Eat brain healthy foods that are high in the amino acid glutamine, a precursor to GABA .
- Whole grains
Try meditation techniques, such as: meditation, prayer, breathing exercises, hand-warming techniques.
Kill the automatic negative thoughts
Supplements: GABA, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and lemon balm
Do You Have More Than one Type?
Having more than one type is common. When you have more than one type, it just means that you may need a combination of interventions. With some combinations, you may only need to use the dominant treatment rather than trying to treat both types.
If you have: Use:
Types 1,4 Type 1 interventions
Types 1,5 Type 1 interventions
Types 1,4,5 Type 1 interventions
Types 2,4 Type 2 interventions
Types 2,5 Types 2 and 5 interventions
Types 2,4,5 Types 2 and 5 interventions
Types 3,4 Type 3 interventions
Types 3,5 Type 3 interventions
Types 3,4,5 Type 3 interventions
Types 4,5 Types 4 and 5 interventions
Based on the book,
The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off
by Daniel G. Amen Md