Trick The Brain To Stop Overeating

stop_eatingAccording to Dr. Daniel Amen, different people have different brain types, which in turn, influence weight. Different types of overeaters require different strategies.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Are you a Compulsive Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Get stuck on thoughts of food and on compulsive eating behavior
  • Get fixated on depressing or anxious thoughts
  • Get locked into one course of action
  • Have trouble seeing options, and want things ‘your’ way
  • Tend to hold grudges
  • Commonly gorge at night, rather than during the day

The cause: low serotonin levels in the brain

What Helps –

  • Exercise, as this allows more of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan, to enter the brain.
  • If you get a negative or food-orientated thought in your head more than three times, immediately get up and do something to distract yourself.
  • Make a list of 10 things you can do instead of eating so you can distract yourself.
  • Choose a diet that gives choices – people with this brain type don’t do well with rigid rules.
  • TAP to reduce negative thoughts and emotions

2. Are you an Emotional Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Eat to try to cheer yourself up
  • Suffer from low mood – anything from mild seasonal blues to actual depression
  • Feel unable enjoy activities you used to find pleasurable
  • Experience low energy or feelings of guilt, helplessness or hopelessness
  • Find it harder to control your weight in winter

The Brain Cause: Low Vitamin D and DHEA

What Helps –

  • Exercise, to boost blood flow and mood-lifting neurotransmitters.
  • Change your thinking. Your body reacts physically to negative thoughts like, “I ate cake, I’ve already blown it, I may as well keep going.” Reframe any negatives thoughts with a positive: “I enjoyed the cake and will eat less at dinner to keep myself on track.”
  • Write down five things you are grateful for every day – this has been shown to increase happiness within three weeks.
  • Vitamin D supplements and bright light therapy can be helpful for this brain type.
  • TAP to reduce negative thoughts and emotions

3. Are you an Impulsive Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Begin the day intending to eat well, and then give in to temptation
  • Regularly say ‘I’m starting my diet tomorrow’
  • Act impulsively, without thinking through the consequences
  • Find yourself easily distracted
  • Get bored easily
  • Struggle with sticking to plans and motivating yourself

The Brain Cause: Low activity in the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s supervisor. Low levels of calming neurotransmitter dopamine.

What Helps

  • Exercise, to increase blood flow and dopamine levels in the brain.
  • Make a clear list of your health goals, and display it where you can see it every day.
  • Accountability – check in regularly with a person or support group to help you stay focused.
  • Avoid impulsively saying yes to offers of food and drink: practice saying, “No thank you, I’m full. Or “No thank you. I’ve had enough.”
  • Visualize yourself leaving a social gathering feeling good.
  • TAP for patience and the ability to “pass it up for now.”

4. Are you an Anxious Overeater?

You are if you…

  • Use food as a way of soothing anxiety, tension or fear
  • Have physical symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension, nail biting, headaches, abdominal pain or palpitations
  • Expect the worst and feel fearful of the future
  • Get easily startled and tend to freeze in social situations
  • Struggle with sleep – worry is the #1 factor that keeps us awake at night.

The Brain Cause: Increased activity in the basal ganglia, caused by low levels of the calming neurotransmitter GABA.

What Helps

  • Calming activities such as yoga and Z Point.
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • Counteracting any negative thoughts (see The Emotional Overeater).
  • Supplements of vitamin B6 and magnesium help boost GABA, reducing the tendency to overeat in response to anxiety.
  • Tap to correct the energy imbalance that is causing the anxiety.

Unfortunately, many people have a combination of these patterns. The common threads that run through all of them are just plain solutions that make sense.

  • Exercise, even if it’s 5 minutes per day while watching TV 🙂
  • Connect to others: participate in activities that are relaxing and fun.
  • Make tapping a regular practice!
Share Button
Blog Widget by LinkWithin
The following two tabs change content below.
Psychologist, Master Certified Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner. She is one of the world’s leading experts in using Emotional Freedom Techniques to help people lose weight without dieting, stop binge eating, and reduce anxiety and stress. She is the author of 4 Books on Emotional Freedom Techniques, the EFT Tips Newsletter, the Binge Eating Teleseminar and the EFT Weight Loss CD. Carol has a thriving coaching practice and is passionate about helping others succeed.