Are You a 'Hypereater?'

If you haven’t planned out your meals ahead of time, the temptation of the vending machine or a five-dollar coffee may be too great. Starting your day off with a healthy breakfast is a good first step to help you avoid overeating. Then, remember to balance your occasional consumption of high-fat favorites, such as ice cream and French fries, with meals containing lean sources of protein, such as lean red meat, chicken, fish, low-fat dairy products, and healthy carbohydrates, including whole-grains, leafy green vegetables, and fruits. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean starving yourself. In fact, you might just need to eat more!

“Skipping meals, especially breakfast, or starving yourself by under-eating will only serve to slow your metabolism, lower your energy level, and usually leads to overeating later in the day,” says Dr. Bottenberg, DO, Internal Medicine Physician and Lipidologist with Carson Tahoe Health. “Eating three balanced meals with just a handful of protein and two handfuls of nutrient-rich carbohydrates will provide the vitamins and minerals needed for good health and is the best way to avoid ‘stress eating.’”

Slow Food:  Dr. Bottenberg advises that the majority of prepared food for consumer consumption should be approached with caution. Designed to ignite dopamine receptors (i.e. “feel good” hormones) in the brain, many packaged foods have too much salt, too much sugar, and too many calories. If you indulge, then plan to exercise to burn those extra calories. Exercise activates the same dopamine receptors (i.e. “feel good” hormones) and offers additional health benefits as well. “Staying healthy is a lot easier than regaining health once you are sick,” says Dr. Bottenberg. “Adults should realize they are responsible for their own health and that it’s never too late to start eating right and exercising.”

FYI – Here’s the Skinny on Hypereating:

Research at the University of California at San Francisco, led by former Food and Drug Administration Chief David Kessler, MD, has uncovered patterns of behavior in people and other animals who may be conditioned to overeat. The findings of the study revealed the following:

• Rats will work harder and harder for a sip of vanilla milkshake and will increase their consumption as sugar content is increased.
• Dr. Kessler estimates 70 million people are conditioned hypereaters to some degree—preoccupied with food and feel a lack of control and satiety when eating.
• Conditioned hypereaters tested while smelling chocolate milkshakes became increasingly tantalized by the aroma rather than becoming used to the smell as is normal. MRI scans further revealed drinking the milkshake was not satisfying—the area awaiting reward in their brain stayed switched on.

If you believe you are a ‘hypereater’ and need assistance in meal planning, you may want to schedule an appointment with a nutritionist.