Overeating: An Epidemic of Western Society

Image of man overeating

One major secret to health, happiness, and high energy.....STOP OVEREATING!

Eating too much of the healthiest of foods will still cause health problems.

It actually contributes to physical symptoms that many people are treated for every day, such as under-eye circles, fatigue, joint pain, acne and acid reflux!

We have all been guilty of overeating at some time, especially during holiday events. Have you ever woke up in the morning after a huge meal feeling as though you were experiencing symptoms of a hangover, but you didn't drink any alcohol? It's a food hangover!

Although there are many people out there who have been diagnosed with an "overeating disorder", that is not really what I am referring to here. Many of us (yes, me included) often overeat just because we are really enjoying what we are eating, or we may be stressed, bored, tired from lack of sleep, or just plain hungry from skipping meals.

This is a serious problem in our society. It is the cause of our obesity problems which is the main issue leading to serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and liver disease.

Check out the following list of symptoms caused by frequent, or even occasional overeating. We all expect weight gain to be a symptom, but do you see a few common problems on this list that you experience frequently, although you may not consider yourself extremely overweight?

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Belly weight or "muffin top"
  • Acid reflux or indigestion
  • Fatigue, especially after meals
  • Undereye circles
  • Acne
  • Moodiness, depression, stress, or anxiety
  • Fuzzy thinking, or inability to concentrate
  • Trouble sleeping, or often waking during the night
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty waking up in the mornings without stimulants

These symptoms are just the beginning. If we don't get our appetites under control we are headed for those more serious health issues I mentioned previously.

Overeating and Liver Disease

If I asked you what the leading cause of cirrhosis of the liver was you would likely say alcohol. Guess again.

Obesity is one of the main causes of liver damage in most affluent countries?!

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is rising to epidemic proportions. The main cause of NAFLD?....OVEREATING!

Unless lifestyle changes are implemented, it is estimated that ten to twenty percent of people with fatty liver will go on to develop cirrhosis. In some of these cases, the only survival option will be a liver transplant.

Its association with obesity means that many people with fatty liver disease will die of complications related to cardiovascular problems, rather than as a result of cirrhosis itself. If the liver can't function properly it can't filter the blood efficiently. In fact, some consider fatty liver disease a much more significant problem than chronic hepatitis C.

Stop Overeating

Overeating causes the kind of hormone and metabolic processes, that normally will try to metabolize food, to go into overdrive to get rid of the huge food load.

This means that much of what you eat will be stored as fat!

Excess food can trigger an unfortunate cycle: The pancreas produces extra insulin to process the sugar load and remove it from the bloodstream. It doesn't stop producing insulin until the brain senses that blood sugar levels are safe. By the time the brain stops insulin production, often too much sugar is removed. Low blood sugar can make you feel hungry, tired, dizzy, even moody — a condition often remedied by eating more, especially causing cravings for sugar and more carbohydrates.

You can stop this cycle by improving your insulin sensitivity.

Improve Insulin Sensitivity

The following tips will help you improve your insulin sensitivity and help you maintain more consistent blood sugar levels which, in turn, will help you to stop overeating:

  1. As always, Exercise.

  2. Eliminate fructose and sugar. Cut out high fructose corn syrup, fructose sweeteners, sugar, fruit juice, fruit smoothies (unless using the whole fruit), and dried fruit. One to two pieces of whole fruit a day is great.
  3. Stop eating foods with trans fats. Trans fats are horrendous for overall health. Trans fats have been shown to inhibit glucose disposal, promote insulin resistance, and increase abdominal obesity.

    Eliminate anything with trans fats or hydrogenated oils on the label.

  4. Add healthy fats to your diet. Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids through wild fish, grass-fed beef, or wild game such as venson. Decrease your consumption of high Omega-6 vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and fried foods.
  5. Drink more green tea. Green tea is considered a glucose disposal agent.
  6. Add more cinnamon to your diet. Numerous studies have shown it to improve the metabolic action of insulin resistance by increasing glucose uptake. And I'm not talking about cinnamon toast crunch cereal! Try adding cinnamon to your morning coffee. Stir it with a cinnamon stick or I add the cinnamon to the coffee in the filter. Adding the cinnamon can replace the sugar!
  7. Keep healthy snacks readily available whenever possible. When you do feel truly hungry, have a healthy snack. Don't allow yourself to skip meals until you are so hungry you will eat anything (and everything).
  8. A diet high in fiber is extremely important. Plenty of vegetables, leafy greens, legumes (beans), and some fruit each day. Brown rice is also an excellent source of high fiber.
  9. Keep your servings small. I'm not just talking about those super-size meals at the fast food places. Portion control is an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Stop eating before you feel full.

    Even the healthiest foods will wreak havoc on your liver and body if you eat too much. Eat slowly and pay attention to your body.

  10. Drink water. Be sure to drink plenty of water in-between meals to promote strong digestion and a healthy metabolism.
  11. For most people eating a little bit of protein with every meal helps. This can be as simple as sprinkling nuts and seeds on your salad, cereal or oatmeal or snacking on nut butter or hummus instead of chips and cookies. Fish is also an excellent, low fat protein source.

Whether you are a compulsive overeater or you just overeat your favorite foods (I'm so guilty of that:)), learn to slow down while your eating and pay attention not only to your body's signals of fullness, but also pay attention after you have eaten to how you are feeling. Do you feel energetic and giddy....or tired, achy and emotional?

When I'm feeling down, tired, achy, or unusually emotional, I think back to what I have consumed during the previous 24 hours to try to figure out what foods I ate that may have caused the problem, or did I overeat? Some people keep a food diary to keep themselves accountable. Oh, and just because you don't write it down doesn't mean you didn't consume it (wink, wink).

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