As I address earlier in the week in my post, On Yoga and The Autonomic Nervous System, our bodies developed hormonal responses when we evolved thousands of years ago to respond to 3 basic stressers: fatigue, danger, and hunger. Today we have the same hormonal responses but they don’t aid us in the same way, because WE DON’T LIVE IN THE STONE AGE!
What Leads to Overeating?
One of the hormonal responses that kept us alive 1000s of years ago is killing us today. That hormonal response is our bodies reaction to food. Eating triggers your body to release dopamine and serotonin. Both of these chemicals are “feel good” chemicals. They are what scientists call the reward center hormones. Reward center hormones work by releasing when we get “substance” AKA things we like. As time goes by between getting said substance, dopamine and serotonin decrease making us crave something to bring them back so we search for this substance. As you can see this drive to eat would have been useful back when food was scarce. We had to feel rewarded by eating so we would go to the effort to hunt and gather our food. Now that we have groceries stores, mini marts, and places we can drive through to get food these survival instincts are working against us! That drive is what leads to overeating!!
So how can we use this knowledge in our favor?
- Know that our bodies become “addicted” to things that release feel good hormones. Knowledge is power. If you know you will be rewarded by eating you will be less likely to give into the need to eat just for the sake of eating.
- Exercise! Exercise releases endorphins as well! As Elle Woods put it, “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t!” So exercise rather than eat when you need a boost!
- Eat smaller meals more often. If we eat more often we will have a constant fuel of dopamine and seratonin so we won’t overeat later.
- Avoid Carb heavy foods. Carb heavy foods release higher amounts of “feel good hormones” causing your crash to be larger and crave more carbs later!