Overeating, sometimes referred to as gluttony or food addiction, is generally characterized by an obsessive/compulsive connection to food. The following characteristics are typically associated with overeating:
Eating an extensive quantity of food, eating too quickly, feeling a lack of control over the eating process, feeling hunger whether or not one has just eaten, always trying to eat alone or otherwise hiding how much one has eaten, continuing to eat even when already feeling full, feeling guilty after compulsive eating, and incessant snacking.
The population suffering from overeating has led to an epidemic of excess weight and obesity, though it does not only affect the severely overweight and obese. Like other sufferers of food frustration disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia), compulsive overeaters may feel low self esteem and have sensations of lack of control over various life events. It is evident that majority of the population dealing with compulsive overeating often show low-self esteem, unhappy feelings and have bouts of depression. Studies are showing many people notice they begin to compulsively overeat whenever their mood changes, especially when they experience negative emotions, but they may also overeat when they feel excitement.
People who compulsively overeat often experience stress, have difficulty sleeping and are more inclined to having suicidal thoughts. Overeating can lead to being severely overweight or even morbid obesity, which leads to serious health risks and illnesses that can result respiratory problems, cardiovascular diseases, illnesses of the metabolism, heightened risk of diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other diseases.
Addressing Problems from Within
Today, the medical community suggests treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and support groups to help regulate the emotions of the sufferer. Physical exercise is recommended as well as a dietary change. Doctors may prescribe various medications to aid in weight loss and reduce emotional outbursts. Overeaters who are also severely overweight may resort to surgical intervention to remove excess fat. While this procedure temporarily reduces body weight, it is no permanent cure for their problem because the weight normally comes back if their mental issues are not dealt with and they continue the same dietary lifestyle and eating habits.
Once the realization has hit home that the mental issues need to be addressed as well for long term success, it is important to observe the kinds of food one eats. Shopping for food takes restraint and training to adjust to new eating habits. Tasty, addictive foods that consumer’s are used to purchasing is usually a pattern hard to break since it is so routine. The markets have theses items on shelves within eye range, so the first thing you see is usually the item you should not be purchasing. They are cheaper products and come in bulk compared to the healthier items which draws the consumer’s attention. The raw food diet, one which consists of eating solely raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, in the most natural way deals with compulsive overeating and can help you to not only change eating habits but convert serious health risks one may have gained from the unhealthy eating habits. Weight loss is gradually, yet visibly apparent when you eat raw foods. By eating natural raw food you allow your body the opportunity to gain energy and improve your immune system. This doesn’t mean everything has to be raw; incorporating plenty of vegetables into a regular diet is possible and can help one to reach their ideal weight as long as proper portioning is practiced with the other meal items. Excessive snacking can be cured with pickles, cucumbers or celery stalks. They are easy to carry around and you can eat as many or as much as you want. Unlike heavily processed and fried foods, a raw food lifestyle does not cause cravings and gradually can help you eliminate your food addictions. However, switching to a raw food diet or a diet containing raw foods and more vegetable and fruit intake should be done in a gradual manner. There are many web resources which provide more information on overcoming overeating with smarter foods choices. A few sites I particularly like are: http://www.thebestofrawfood.com, http://www.rd.com/health/sneaking-veggies-into-your-daily-diet/, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-steps-to-changing-bad-eating-habits.
A New Routine for a New Lifestyle
Beginning and sticking to a fitness routine can do wonders for a recovering overeater because not only does it help manage stress, it is the best form to improve your mental and physical health. Keeping physical exercise in your daily activities will ensure a new lifestyle change you will soon begin to appreciate and look forward to.
I am beginning my own journey to incorporate less portions of processed foods and many, many more portions of fruits and vegetables into my daily snacks and meals. I am beginning a new fitness regimen that includes plenty of cardio and strength training and I look forward to the future outcome. I will keep you posted with my results, and best of luck with your new lifestyle changes!