Over-eating: Unravelling the Puzzle
by Gina Shaw DSc MA AIYS Dip Irid Dip NH
The website for True Health/Gina Shaw DSc
In January 2008, a survey carried out by Lighter Life revealed that many British people feel there eating habits are out of control.  Almost half of British women and a third of men think their weight is "out of control", according to a poll.  And it seems the fatter people are, the less control they feel they have over other aspects of their life.  More than half (55%) of the very obese said their finances were also spiraling out of control. 

The poll of 995 adults also found that 38% of adults would break their commitment to a diet if their partner simply suggested a takeaway.  The study found 46% of women felt their weight was out of control, compared with 30% of men.  As body weight increased, the percentage feeling "out of control" also increased, from 14% of those of normal weight, to 42% among the overweight, 73% of obese people and 87% of the very obese. A quarter of people of healthy weight admitted feeling they were not in control of their money, but this rose to 55% among the very obese.

The founder of Lighter Life, Bar Hewlett, said: "It's alarming just how many people feel out of control of their weight and how this hopelessness affects other parts of their lives. "It doesn't matter how rich or poor you actually are in determining how in control you feel about your money, but there is a correlation with your weight."  She added feeling "out of control" could prompt a downward spiral but said losing weight could have a major impact on the rest of people's lives. "If you start to feel more in control of one aspect, you may gain the confidence to change something else."

So the question is, why are so many people feeling so out of control with their eating habits.  Well, for people with eating disorders in the UK it could partially be due to the fact that in a cold climate our natural instincts are to ‘pad ourselves out’ by insulating ourselves with fat and hence by taking in extra calories, but I don’t think this is the whole answer as many people are obese even during the warmer summer months and are still eating in a compulsive way.  There are many other answers here, which we will look into in this article.

One thing is for sure, especially for people in the UK and the US - a large majority of people are eating nutrient-poor foods, which the processed food industry are continually tempting people into buying by their diverse and multi-million dollar/pound marketing strategies.  Unfortunately, this leaves people’s body’s literally starving of nutrients as they are not getting sufficient nutrients in their diets.

Also, many people have absorption problems due to their diet and lifestyle habits which keep them under-nourished and this is another important factor in the equation.  The majority of nutrients are absorbed through the intestines.  When the tiny villi through which nutrients are absorbed are clogged, no matter how much we eat, our bodies will not be nourished.  These villi can be easily clogged by the waste products of foods that our bodies are unable to metabolise and utilise efficiently.  When no nutrients are being absorbed as a result of clogging, the body sets off an alarm that it has not been fed, and even though we may have just eaten, we want to eat more.

Part of the processed food industry problem is also explained in a book entitled ‘Fighting the Food Giants’ by Paul Stitt.  He explains how the processed food industry in the U.S. have special tactics which keep consumers begging for their product – they lace their ‘foods’ with addictive chemicals, as well as making the foods nutritionally empty and therefore the foods never satiate people entirely as the foods do not register with the body’s appestat mechanism - the part of our brain which tells the body when it’s full up.  So, people keep buying these processed foods in an attempt to make themselves feel full, but this is a long time coming!  If people consume a large amount of junk food, their bodies are literally starving on a nutritional level.  Indeed, many people who are over-weight are literally starving!

Another side to this problem is that because people’s lifestyles are becoming more and more busy, with less time to concentrate on the important parts of their lives; people continually take the junk food/fast food options, like packets of crisps, chocolate bars, etc., etc., not to mention 'liquid lunches'.  The foods they are eating are so low in nutrition and indeed often actually deplete their bodies of nutritients and although these foods may expand their stomachs and make them feel satiated for a while, these foods are far from nourishing their bodies.

Part of the physiological reasons for people over-eating is also due to blood sugar problems, which is often largely caused by poor diet and/or malabsorption problems in the first place.  A Western diet easily paves the way for blood sugar disorders by clogging the cells with fat so that the insulin cannot do its work properly, or by rendering the pancreas indadequate for maintaining a regular blood sugar level, according to Dr Julian Whittaker.

Of course there are often emotional problems involved in eating disorders too, which may need to be addressed separately, but a well-planned, high-nutrient diet devoid of certain foodstuffs, most notably flesh foods and animal products can also help you to overcome ‘emotional eating habits’.  You can read more about this in my book ‘Nutrition and Emotions: How to Transform your Life Through Optimum Nutrition’.

So what is the solution to eating disorders in general?  Well, when you adopt a healthier lifestyle by choosing a diet based largely on raw plant-based foods and devoid of flesh foods and animal products, the intestines have a chance to become unclogged and to heal and then you are able to take in far more nutrients from the nutrient-rich foods you choose and your body will become nourished again and after a while you will no longer experience constant hunger pangs.  Your blood sugars will be more stabilized too, which will aid you be eliminating sugar cravings.  Sometimes however, when health has become a chronic issue, a professionally-supervised fast or detox plan may well be in order in order to rectify the issue properly


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