It's not just about emotional eating and habitual eating. Get off refined white sugar and simple carbohydrates and get back control of your health and your life. It's that simple!
Do you think eating in response to stress is the reason why you are mildly overweight or fully obese?
We are all victims of emotional eating, right? Wrong!
Lots of people, who try to function in today's stressed out world, believe they eat in response to stress. So many people believe that if they could just get stress under control that they could get their weight under control.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
All the commercials and ads all tell you, over and over again, that we eat in response to stress or that we are emotional eaters or that we have no control over ourselves.
If you would like to know the truth about emotional eating, eating in response to stress, stress and weight gain or stress and weight loss, then READ ON....
There is no question that we can all become victims of emotional eating from time to time and there is no question that most of us eat out of habit some of the time.
We tend to be depressed and stressed out much of the time and those of us who don't use emotional eating as a crutch, probably cope with stress by smoking or gambling or some other equally destructive behavior.
However, the really shocking fact is that these two issues - emotional eating and habitual eating are very small issues compared to the primary reason why we are all so FAT.
North America is not obese because of our uncontrollable emotions or bad habits. North America is fat, obese, overweight, chubby, pudgy, heavy, chunky (or whatever you want to call it) because of something called HYPERPHAGIA.
NO, that is not a swear word. It's pronounced "Hi-per-fay-ja." This is a rather fancy sounding scientific word, which simply means uncontrollable hunger. We all suffer from hyperphagia, which is a scientific or medical problem, not an emotional eating problem.
Hyperphagia, for bears, is a period of excessive eating and drinking to fatten them up for
hibernation, which can last for up to eight months of the year, depending upon where the bear lives. Some bears can eat 15,000 to
20,000 calories PER DAY and drink several gallons of water as well. However, this is not emotional eating. Continuous eating is great for bears who go to sleep for several months and burn off all their stored up fat, but it is not so good for human beings who continue to eat and drink all year round.
As human beings, we are the most advanced members of the animal kingdom. We are at the top of the food chain. We have incredible brain power and we have opposable thumbs, not paws
If you're a skeptic, like me, you find it very hard to believe that such advanced, intellectual beings, have so little control over emotions and habits. If human beings are really that weak, then we don't deserve to be at the top of the animal kingdom.
Sorry, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea of human beings, especially in the developed parts of the world, being so incredibly useless at managing emotion and habit, although emotional eating has definitely been my excuse for most of my life.
Now, don't get me wrong. I used to buy into the whole diet world, too. I've been on Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, the South Beach Diet and a whole host of other weight loss plans. I never took diet pills (although I thought about it a few times) and I never did any crazy cleanses or fasts, but I definitely spent a lot of money over the years trying to conquer my advancing weight problem.
I had success at different times, just like most people, but each and every time (you know the drill) I gained it all back and then some.
Then I learned about HYPERPHAGIA.
The truth about food, stress and emotional eating actually has more to do with science than anything else.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you must first get food under control and then you will be able to get stress under control, not the other way around.
Weight gain or weight loss, whichever way you want to look at it has more to do with stress and blood sugar than emotional eating.
Now, I'm not talking about emotional stress here, I'm talking about something called oxidative stress.
FIRST, comes a crazy sugar-filled diet. You eat sugar-coated or sugar-filled everything including white bread, white flour, white potatoes, white rice, white pasta, candy, cakes, pastries, pop tarts and white pizza dough (you get the idea).
SECOND, comes an uncontrollable sugar addiction called hyperphagia that keeps you a slave to cravings for more sugar (also known as simple carbohydrates). This is very different from emotional eating.
THIRD, comes a messed up pancreas (a very important organ in your body) that gets busy trying to produce enough hormones (insulin) to deal with all the sugar you are stuffing into your body. By the way, the more insulin you produce, the less glucagon (another hormone) you produce. Insulin makes you store fat. Glucagon makes you burn fat. You definitely want more glucagon than insulin, not the other way around.
FOURTH, comes a pancreas that doesn't work so good anymore. It's tired and it's worn out. Like the elves in Santa's workshop, your pancreas has been so busy trying to process all the sugar that you eat that now it just needs a long winter's rest. The only problem is that unlike Santa's elves, you need your pancreas to work all the time, all year round without taking a rest - EVER. This is when all that, so called, emotional eating starts to become a problem because if your Pancreas stops working or enters a state called Beta Cell exhaustion, then you get Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, which is a serious chronic degenerative disease.
FIFTH, comes a vicious cycle of
over-working your pancreas and constantly spiking your blood sugar all
the time. This vicious cycle creates free radicals, which left
unchecked, create oxidative stress. It's oxidative stress that
eventually damages your pancreas so much that it stops working. It's
oxidative stress that causes all the damage, not emotional stress and
This whole process, just like a defiant two-year old, makes you resistant to your insulin. Then the pancreas has to make even more insulin to deal with the same amount of sugar as before and the cycle goes on and on and on. Before you know it, you are obese and you can't even understand how it happened.
You have been on a blood sugar roller coaster for far too long. You eat a high sugar meal, which spikes your blood sugar and for a short time you become hyper-glycemic (high blood sugar).
Then you come down off this high and your body drops into a low blood sugar range called hypo-glycemia. When this happens, your brain freaks out and starts to panic because it needs glucose (sugar) to function and so it starts screaming at you to eat more sugar.
When this happens, you feel terrible and it has nothing to do with emotional eating. You get cranky, feel faint, get headaches and feel like you are going to starve. But take a deep breath, because this is just your brain having a temper tantrum.
Remember when your child threw himself or herself down on the floor and
started kicking his or her feet and screaming and crying. It's exactly
the same thing. Your brain is throwing a hissy fit. It's behaving like
a spoiled child. It will do anything it must to get you to eat again even if it means making you feel like you are a helpless victim of emotional eating.
But, just like with parenting, each and every time your child behaves this way, you have a choice as to how you will respond to your child, or in this case, respond to your brain's demand for glucose. Will you give your child everything he or she seems to want, even if it means your child will grow up to be a spoiled rotten brat or will you give your child what he or she needs, which can sometimes be tough love and discipline. Will you give into the sensation of emotional eating and head for the ice cream and chocolate or will you make a healthier choice?
Now, you don't want to completely ignore your brain, like you might a naughty child, but you also don't have to come running and give in to every single demand.
We all know that some parents truly don't understand or accept this phenomenon and they give into the child's every whim, but there are enough parents out there who do understand this reality that they are able to raise their children to become relatively well-balanced adults.
The point is, if you see hyperphagia for what it is, which is not emotional eating at all, but rather a scientific or medical problem, then you will be able to control your unruly toddler or your unruly brain and as a result you will be able to tackle the largest factor that is keeping you fat, which is not emotional eating.
When your brain gets grumpy because it has dropped into the low glycemic range and begins to throws its daily, sometimes hourly, hissy fit or temper tantrum, you have the choice to give it more sugar or you can choose to give it protein and complex carbohydrates.
If you give it more sugar, you just create the conditions for another hissy fit in a couple of hours, when you drop into the low blood sugar range again, but if you give it protein and complex carbohydrates, then you will not spike your blood sugar, and you will not create the conditions for another temper tantrum in two or three hours.
You see, the brain does not care where the sugar comes from and all foods have some sugar. Your brain doesn't need a lot to be happy and it doesn't need the sugar to be simple or highly processed. If you give your body some protein or complex carbohydrates, your brain will be just as happy as if you gave it a double fudge, banana split sundae with caramel, nuts and colored sprinkles. Unlike children, your brain, in fact, likes broccoli and spinach.
Can you imagine living with a child, who can't communicate well because he or she is a toddler and having that child throw a temper tantrum every two or three hours every day and every night forever. My guess is that the parent would eventually want to get rid of the child. Any parent who had to deal with this type of behavior endlessly, would be stressed indeed.
The truth is that most of us don't stand for this with our children, so why do we stand for this with our bodies. Your brain screams for food and you instantly give it more sugar. Two hours go by and it screams again and you give it more sugar.
Your brain, just like a defiant child, can be fairly crafty and manipulative, too. Years ago, I had a young family member who would actually plan her temper tantrums. She would strategically place pillows around the four corners of the living room, so that she could throw herself on them later when she had a hissy fit and in this way she wouldn't hurt herself. It was brilliant if you ask me. Your brain is crafty as well. Your brain will actually try to make you believe that you will die if you don't get sugar. It's no wonder we all think emotional eating is the center of the obesity epidemic.
So now you understand the bigger picture. Emotional eating and habitual eating are definitely part of the problem, but until we conquer hyperphagia or the brain's regular hissy fits, you can never truly get back control of your health and your life.
To help you understand the difference between emotional eating and insulin resistance a little better, just imagine the child with the terrible behavior again.
The temper tantrums example works well to help describe a growing problem with your pancreas too. Over time, the child's tantrums would have to get more creative or much stronger or much worse to have the same effect on the parent. In other words, the child would have to work harder each time to get the same response from the parent. The parent builds up a resistance to the behavior What may have started as light crying and whimpering, might have grown into extreme whining and eventually became all out screaming, yelling, crying, hitting and kicking - even biting. This same child, as a teenager, would be a scary force to deal with.
The same is true with your pancreas. You have been indulging the sugar cravings for so long that your pancreas must now work harder each time to produce the same amount of insulin and it must produce more insulin each time to deal with the same amount of sugar. What you thought was emotional eating has definitely taken its toll. That's because your brain has cried wolf so many times that your pancreas doesn't leap off the couch anymore to respond to the temper tantrum. It's like he or she doesn't care anymore what the child does or doesn't do.
This whole time, you've believed you have an emotional eating problem, when you really have a scientific, medical problem. Unfortunately, just like a worn out parent, you now have a worn out pancreas.
I know the information that I have laid out here seems like the situation is beyond your control, but it's not. The good news is that you may not be diabetic yet, instead you might only have gotten as far as Metabolic Syndrome, the condition formerly known as Syndrome X.
Metabolic Syndrome isn't great, but it's not as bad as full on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. If you only have Metabolic Syndrome, then, at least, your pancreas still works, a little. Maybe all that emotional eating has not won just yet. Now that you know its probably not emotional eating that's keeping you fat, you still have a chance to reverse the damage. You still have a chance to get your unruly, demanding brain under control and you have a chance to neutralize the free radicals. If you do this, you can stop oxidative stress from getting worse, you can prevent diabetes and you can give up being a victim of what you thought was emotional eating.
Sorry, I don't mean to yell, but it's critical that you start as soon as possible. So, stop sitting around with the mistaken belief that you will always be the victim of emotional eating or that there's nothing you can do about the fact that you eat in response to stress.