Posts Tagged ‘Fatigue Eating’

“Hurt” Your Hunger

July 13, 2013

       Andrew Siegel, MD Blog #112

Hunger is one of our most basic and primal urges and a fundamental part of our hard-wired engineering in order to ensure adequate intake of calories, energy, and nutrition for the purpose of survival of the individual.  It is one of nature’s clever “bait and switch” mechanisms: we think we are satisfying an urge, but we are really fueling up to stoke our metabolic processes and provide fodder for cellular growth and maintenance.

Hunger is functionally based upon chemicals including hormones and neurotransmitters—for example, ghrehlin (appetite stimulating), and leptin (appetite inhibiting).  Additionally, our circadian biorhythm plays an important role as our brain’s body clock drives the cycle of hunger which is typically at its lowest at 8 AM in the morning and peaks at 8 PM at night.  This cycle can lead to a tendency to gain weight by not eating when you need it (breakfast) and eating when you don’t need to (evening after dinner).  Furthermore, emotional factors—particularly stress—can impact our “hunger” in a major way.  Our environment—which can expose us to the sight, sound, and smell of food, television commercials and other triggers—also has a significant influence on our hunger, causing us to suddenly desire food when moments before we had no appetite whatsoever.

It is important to make the distinction between physiological hunger and emotional hunger.  Physiological hunger is the instinctual drive to seek food versus emotional hunger, which is psychological and largely influenced by environmental exposure to food triggers as well as to our emotional state of mind.  If you haven’t eaten for hours and are famished and have a stomach that is producing a symphony of growling sounds, it is a pretty clear-cut case of physiological hunger. However, if you have just eaten dinner and are sitting on the couch relaxing in front of the television and become “hungry,” typically for a very specific food item, it usually bespeaks emotional hunger.

Interestingly, our physiological hunger drives us to consume a fixed weight of food every day, regardless of calories/nutrient content; therefore, low-caloric density foods—those that contain abundant water content—rule. For this reason, it is good to “preload” before a meal by eating low density foods such as salad, soup, a piece of fruit, cut-up raw veggies or drinking a glass of water to help curb caloric intake.

Fatigue eating is a very common phenomenon, which has a physiological basis.  This is why a good night’s sleep goes a very long way in helping to maintain a healthy weight. It is important to not succumb to the temptation to eat yourself awake—see my blog on FATigue eating: https://healthdoc13.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/fatigue-eating/.

The nutritional content of our meals is of fundamental importance in quelling our hunger. Specifically, eating protein as well as some healthy fats can go a long way in diminishing our hunger. A diet that is balanced in terms of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats can keep one satisfied until the next meal.  So, try to have some protein for breakfast as well as for an afternoon snack— it does wonders in terms of maintaining high levels of our satiety hormones to keep hunger at bay.  Carbohydrates without protein or fat provide only a short-lived suppression of hunger.

Stress is a particularly toxic emotion in terms of driving “hunger.”   It is best to try to avoid “eating” stress away and instead trying to “exercise” it away.   Exercise has numerous positive effects, including the enhancement of the brain’s executive function to help inhibit temptations and impulses—see my blog on Exercise To Exorcise: https://healthdoc13.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/exercise-to-exorcise/. Like fatigue, there is a clear-cut physiological basis for stress- induced eating.  Stress causes the release of a number of hormones and chemicals including cortisol, which can profoundly influence us to eat, often fatty, salty, and sugary foods—see my blog on The Mind-Body Connection and How It Relates To Our Eating Behaviors: https://healthdoc13.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/the-mind-body-connection-how-it-relates-to-our-eating-behaviors/.

Bottom Line: Exercising “mindfulness” is a vitally important asset in the struggle to maintain a healthy weight. It is a good idea before putting any food item into one’s mouth to consider what you are eating, why you are eating, when you are eating and where you are eating.  If what is a bad what, why is for non-physiological reasons, when is late at night and where is in front of the TV or in the car while driving, it is worth considering an alternative activity to occupy and amuse yourself in lieu of eating. Am I saying it is bad to sit in front of the television and have a snack?  Not at all…but if you are really not hungry and just desire entertainment and diversion, it is best not to down a large bag of chips mindlessly. Consumption should be accompanied by conscientious choices.

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition

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Emotional Eating: Podcast Interview Of Dr. Siegel

September 7, 2012

This week’s blog is a change of pace–it is a podcast of Morty Lefkoe interviewing Andrew Siegel on the subject matter of Dr. Siegel’s book.  The interview delves into maladaptive, emotional eating patterns and tactics and strategies that can be employed to develop healthier eating behaviors.  Click on the following link to access the interview :

Morty Lefkoe is president and founder of The Lefkoe Institute, and is the creator of The Lefkoe Method, a series of psychological processes that result in profound personal and organizational change, quickly and permanently. He is also the author of Re-create Your Life: Transforming Yourself and Your World.  Morty has written over 100 articles and columns for such publications as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He has also appeared on over 100 radio and TV shows, including Today, Leeza, ABC World News Today, and Fox Cable News. He is a member of the American Counseling Association and has written articles describing the Lefkoe Method in The California Therapist, The Group Therapist Perspective, and the California Psychologist. In addition, Morty has spoken before groups such as the American Management Association, Vistage, American Psychotherapy Association, American College of Counselors, American Association of Integrative Medicine, National Wellness Coalition, Managed Health Care Congress, Association for Fitness in Business, and the American Psychological Association-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. He has conducted over 200 seminars for groups of CEOs on “A Proven Method for Successfully Instituting Change” and “Limiting Beliefs, Business and Personal: How to Identify and Eliminate Them.”

Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

www.PromiscuousEating.com

Available on Amazon/Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Promiscuous-Eating-Understanding-Self-Destructive-ebook/dp/B004VS9AC6

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Sleep To Slim

July 20, 2012

Andrew Siegel, M.D.      Blog # 67

 

On many levels, sleep has a vitally important role. Our brains and bodies require this critically essential down time to “recharge.” Our sleep cycle includes restorative deep sleep phases and rapid-eye-movement sleep phases.  Our bodies need sufficient time to complete all phases of sleep to maintain our well being and to promote tissue repair, memory reinforcement and the release of hormones that function in regulating growth and appetite.

Who does not relish the blissful experience of a great night’s sleep, in which we awaken feeling alert, rested, energetic, optimistic and ready to tackle life with vigor? Throw in some great dreams and we have the recipe for the beginning of a wonderful day. Conversely, we have all experienced a very poor night’s sleep, in which we awaken feeling physically exhausted, mentally spent, lids heavy, dark circles under our eyes and in a disassociated state, totally unprepared and unenthusiastic about facing the new day.

Many of us do not realize the profound association between sleeping and eating.  The bottom line is that an adequate amount of quality sleep helps keep us on the healthy eating wagon, while insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation can throw us off it.  Fatigue eating is a very real phenomenon and is one of the circumstances that drive my own bouts of mindless, unnecessary eating.  Many of us, when physically and mentally exhausted, in a “zombie”-type state, often seek refuge in the refrigerator or pantry in spite of not being genuinely hungry. It seems that this FATigue—an altered state of mind and body—would best be served by seeking refuge napping in our beds, but mindless food foraging all too often serves as a surrogate activity.

In addition to the dis-inhibition of “eating discipline” that occurs with fatigue (similar to that which occurs with alcohol), there appears to be a physiological basis for this fatigue-driven eating. Fatigue or sleep deprivation causes the following:

  • decreased levels of leptin, our appetite suppressant
  • increased levels of ghrelin, our appetite stimulant
  • increased levels of cortisol, one of the stress hormones
  • increased  glucose (blood sugar)levels

Thus, fatigue results in internal chemical changes that can drive our eating.

Acute sleep disruption is associated with increased appetite and caloric intake and chronic sleep deficits result in an inability to be attentive and focused, interfering with our mindfulness, which can wreak further havoc with our eating.  The disassociated “zombie” state lends itself to dysfunctional eating patterns and, as such, weight gain is a predictable consequence. Additionally, a chronically fatigued state will also affect our ability to exercise properly, if at all.

The following are pointers to help achieve a good night’s sleep:

  • A quality mattress and box spring, topped by a cushioned mattress pad, are wonderful investments since we spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping; amortized over many years, they really prove quite a bargain.
  • Same goes for pillows—some like them firm, some fluffy, so you must find what works best for you.
  • Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule in terms of time going to sleep and time arising, making an effort not to disrupt the pattern too much on weekends.
  • Caffeine restriction after a certain hour, depending on the individual—this means coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate (which contains a caffeine-like chemical).
  • Limit daytime naps.
  • Don’t overdo it with alcohol during dinner and the evening hours; even though alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant (which one might think would aid in sleep), in reality, it interferes with our natural sleep rhythms.
  • Easy on late-night eating—going to bed bloated with churning intestines is counter-productive in the effort of getting quality sleep.
  • Don’t overdo it with fluid consumption in the evening that can cause sleep-disruptive nocturnal urinating.
  • Exercise early since evening exercise tends to stimulate our brains and bodies and cause insomnia.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature—generally, a cool room promotes quality sleep.
  • Keep the room as dark as possible—black out shades are terrific.
  • Try to keep the ambient noise to a minimum so the sleeping environment is quiet.
  • For some, white noise can be very helpful—I go to sleep to the sound of machine-generated surf; not quite as good as when I lived in Manhattan Beach, California right on the ocean, but helpful nonetheless.
  • Have a pre-sleep relaxation and tension-reducing ritual such as reading, a hot bath, meditation, romance, etc.

Take home points:

— The fatigue resulting from insufficient sleep interferes with our mindfulness and can result in unnecessary eating as a surrogate activity for sleeping.

— There is a biochemical basis for this sleep-deprivation eating.

— When we find ourselves succumbing to fatigue eating, it is best to try to muster up the wherewithal to head to the bedroom instead of the refrigerator—we will feel much better about ourselves in the morning and will have saved ourselves needless calories!

— On a general basis, it is best not to use eating as a substitute for other activities.

—  Try to consistently get enough sleep in order to avoid FATigue and its many pitfalls!

Andrew L. Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

www.PromiscuousEating.com

Available on Amazon Kindle

FATigue Eating

March 28, 2011

Adequate quantity and quality of sleep are of obvious importance to our general well-being and optimal functioning. We have all enjoyed the blissful experience of a great night’s sleep, in which we awaken feeling rested, energetic, optimistic and ready to tackle the new day with vigor. Conversely, we have all experienced a very poor night’s sleep, in which we awaken feeling physically exhausted, mentally spent, lids heavy, dark circles under our eyes and in a disassociated “zombie” state, totally unprepared and unenthusiastic about facing the new day.

Sleeping has a vitally important restorative function—our batteries need to be recharged and our brains and bodies require this important down time. Acute sleep disruption is associated with many negative effects including increased appetite and caloric intake; chronic sleep deficits result in an inability to be attentive and focused, interfering with our mindfulness, which can further wreak havoc with our eating. The disassociated “zombie” state lends itself to dysfunctional eating patterns and, as such, weight gain is a predictable consequence. A chronically fatigued state also will affect our ability to exercise properly, if at all.

For many people—myself included—one of the key triggers of dysfunctional eating is fatigue. When I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I often seek refuge in the refrigerator or pantry in spite of not being genuinely hungry. It seems that this fatigue—an altered state of mind and body—would best be served by seeking sanctuary in my bedroom, but mindless food foraging function as a surrogate activity.  Giving this some thought, I conclude that somehow my fatigue overrides my usual reasonably tight control over my eating behavior and that what I really need is not food to stimulate my taste buds, but simply a good night’s rest. So, I am at times substituting mindless eating for rest and sleep.

There appears to be a physiological basis for this fatigue-driven eating. Fatigue or sleep deprivation causes the following:

  • decreased levels of leptin, our appetite suppressant
  • increased levels of ghrelin, our appetite stimulant
  • increased levels of cortisol, one of the stress hormones
  • increased  glucose (blood sugar) levels

Thus, fatigue results in internal chemical changes that can drive our eating.

Take home points:

  • Fatigue interferes with our mindfulness and can result in unnecessary eating as a surrogate activity for sleeping.
  • There is a biochemical basis for our fatigue eating.
  • When we find ourselves succumbing to fatigue eating, it is best to try to muster up the mindfulness to head to the bedroom instead of the refrigerator—we will feel much better about ourselves in the morning and will have saved ourselves needless calories!
  • On a general basis, it is best not to use eating as a substitute for other activities

Andrew Siegel, M.D.