Obesity is rising rapidly in the US. New research put out by Dr. Daniel Amen, has shown that there are five patterns of brain activity that may cause overeating. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are taken of an individual's brain, which show predictable patterns of activation. The pattern of activation determines the "type" of overeater the individual may be. The five types of overeating are explained below:
Compulsive overeaters get stuck on one thought (such as food) and feel driven to eat. The brain scans show decreased levels of a chemical in the brain called serotonin. These people do best by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain through natural ways via exercise, for example.
Impulsive overeaters often have difficulty with control and are easily distracted. They often reach for food without thinking. The brain scans show decreased activity in the "control" area of the brain, which helps you decide between the banana and the banana split. High-protein and low-carb diets benefit these people. Exercise, meditation, and supplements that calm the brain help to control overeating.
Impulsive-Compulsive overeaters are compelled to eat and have little control to say "no". The brain scans show too much activity in the "gear shifter" in the brain so people get stuck on food thoughts. Exercise increases serotonin levels and greatly benefits these types of overeaters.
Sad or Emotional Overeater
Sad or emotional overeaters eat to medicate their feelings of rejection or nervousness to calm the emotional "storms" in the brain. There is excess activity in the emotional (limbic) region in the brain on the MRI scans. Exercise benefits this type of overeater because it optimizes vitamin D levels (which make you "feel" better). Taking fish oil supplements are also great.
Anxious overeaters medicate their feelings of anxiety with food; they reach for food to calm their nerves. they are always waiting for something bad to happen and don't look for the positive. These people suffer from physical tension. Meditation, hypnosis and anything else that calms the mind benefits this "type" the most.
Granted, not everyone is obese, but these 5 types of overeating can be a tool to evaluate your patterns of eating. Stay posted for next week with the "6 Ways to Conquer Your Cravings"!
Reference: Monroe, Mary. "It's All in the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Overeating With Neuroscience."IDEA Fitness Journal November-December (2011): 38-46. Print.