Hey friends! Today I have advice & a study for you on how to stop overeating between (especially before) diets. Sometimes, the overeating gets so bad that it completely counteracts the diet–at least that used to be how it was for me!
Hey friends! Today I have advice & a super cool study for you on how to stop negative emotions from making you overeat or binge eat. This study also has useful advice for how to feel fewer negative emotions generally!
For the highlights, check out the video:
And now, the details & how to use the strategy into your own life:
Emotions are a MAJOR cause of overeating–in fact many scientists think it’s THE cause of binge eating disorder (BED).
So in this study, they tested whether a simple psychological trick could prevent people from overeating when feeling sad.
They had two groups: a group of 39 overweight women with BED, and a control group of 42 overweight women (weight-matched) without binge eating. Their average BMI in both groups was 34. The BED group was bingeing 4x a week on average, for at least the last 6 months.
They had the participants watch a really sad movie, had them use one of two emotional regulation strategies, then looked at how much they ate afterwards from bowls of biscuits and chocolate M&Ms.
They split the BED and control groups into two strategy groups: suppression and reappraisal. For the people in the suppression group, they told them to suppress their emotions:
Try to hide your feelings. Try to behave in a way that someone watching you would think that you don’t feel anything at all. Try to hold a neutral expression so no one can read your feelings from your face. You can feel whatever you feel, but try your best not to show it.
For the people in the reappraisal group, they told them to try to change how they felt about the movie by focusing on different aspects:
Try to distance yourself from the movie and see it objectively. Whenever you sense a change in your feelings while watching, try to internally step back. For example, think of how the photographer and actors succeeded in presenting the scene.”
(Instructions in studies tend to be REALLY repetitive to make sure participants get it, so I paraphrased 😉 )
Suppression means doing nothing to actually help you stop feeling the feelings, but just hiding or ignoring them. Reappraisal means trying to be less involved in the negative emotion–focusing on other aspects of the situation, distancing yourself from the situation, or looking at it as sort of a scientist. Reappraisal is actually a big reason why some people cope better with negative emotions than others: they naturally do more reappraising. (More specific advice on this below!)
So the participants watched a movie scene about the loss of a loved one, and other studies have shown that the movie scene makes people really sad. After the movie, both groups of participants rated themselves as feeling more sad than before the movie. But, the group that had done reappraisal during the movie felt less sad.
Then, they gave each participant a bowl of biscuits and a bowl of M&Ms, and told them they were doing a taste test to see how the movie affected their ratings of how good the food tasted. They had 15 minutes to eat & fill out questionnaires about how good the food tasted. They had all been told to eat a regular meal 2 hours earlier, so they weren’t coming in hungry.
Participants in the suppression group ate 40% morethan the reappraisal group. And this applied to both people who binge ate, and those who didn’t. Over 15 minutes this amounted to 30 extra calories, but imagine…
If you would usually have eaten 1100 calories in a binge, this strategy could make that an 800 calorie binge instead.
And, more importantly, learning reappraisal can help you deal with negative emotions better over time (tons of other research has shown this) and break the bingeing cycle completely.
Interestingly, the group with BED tended to use suppression in daily life much more than the control group, and used reappraisal a lot less. So that may explain how binge eating arises in the first place.
So, how can YOU start reappraising?
Reappraisal means changing the way you think about a situation. Most of the time, we only feel negative emotions because we decide that a situation is bad: for example, for one person starting a new job might be exciting; for another, it might be terrifying. Same situation, different perspectives.
So how do you reappraise a situation?
Let’s say your significant other breaks up with you. A natural reaction may be to feel worthless, self-loathing, etc. A reappraisal strategy here would be to focus on how maybe the situation isn’t the worst thing ever. Focus on the ways in which it might be a good thing: maybe he wasn’t a great match for you anyway, maybe he prevented you from seeing friends or pursuing your hobbies, and there’s definitely someone better out there for you.
Suppression, on the other hand, would be to “put on your brave face” and make it seem like the breakup didn’t affect you.
With reappraisal, challenges become opportunities for growth.
Try asking yourself questions like these:
What did you learn from the situation?
Can you find something positive that might come out of it?
Are you grateful for any part of it?
Are you better off in any way than when you started?
Could it have helped you grow or develop as a person?
So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, try reappraisal. It may help you feel better instead of leading to a binge.
Today I have a video for you where I go over a recent study on how eating processed versus unprocessed foods affects how much you eat, your weight gain vs loss, your hunger hormones, your satiety and satisfaction level, etc.
This study is a really nice one because they actually had people eat an unprocessed food diet for 2 weeks, then switch to a processed food diet for 2 weeks (or vice versa), so everyone tried both diets. The researchers measured exactly what they ate, and looked at how a bunch of macro and micronutrients, and other diet & eating measures, predicted differences in eating amounts & weight gain vs loss between the two diets.
The coolest part to me is that this is a particularly good example of how the typical “calories in versus calories out” view of weight loss and gain just does NOT apply a lot of the time. Specifically, the unprocessed diet led people to lose weight despite eating more calories than they burned, and there are differences between the processed and unprocessed diets’ weight loss vs gain that can’t be explained by the differences in calories.
See the video for the details and more fun & crazy findings!
Hey friends! Today I have a video (& post) for you with 10 tips on how to stop overeating or binge eating out of boredom! Boredom eating is an important habit to kick whether you’re looking to learn to eat intuitively, or looking to lose weight.
Today I’m wearing my psychologist hat: I do have my master’s degree in psychology (cognitive neuroscience emphasis) after all! Some of these tips will address the eating side of the issue, and others will focus more on solving the boredom side.
I go over all these points in detail and with concrete examples in the video, but here’s the list:
Figure out if you’re eating from actual boredom, or if it’s really hunger! (Try the broccoli test)
Exercise: the hormones suppress your appetite!
Meditation: turn boredom into something that’s good for you physically & mentally
Plan something exciting
Find something else that’s mostly mindless to occupy yourself, especially your hands
Find an activity that’s rewarding in a way that replaces the reward from food
Channel your food-related thoughts into cooking something healthy!
Find & solve the root cause of your boredom, like stress, depression, dissatisfaction with life circumstances, etc.
Today, I have something a little bit different for you: 7 natural ways to reduce your stress using foods and herbs, based on scientific studies. Stress is a major reason for overeating and weight gain, and causes all sorts of bad health effects, both physical and mental. So if you’re stressed, reducing it could help you reach your health & appearance goals!
In the video, I go over the remedies and what types of stressors and stress symptoms they help with, how to use them, and briefly cover studies supporting them. In the post below, I list specific supplements/foods, dosages, how long they should take to work, and link the studies.
Unfortunately, many supplements don’t actually contain what they say they do. So I researched independent lab tests for supplements to make sure they contain the proper dose of the active ingredient, are free of toxins, and have the most bang for your buck!
For the food and teas, I’ve researched the best ones and linked my favorites. I also include my recommended dose for everything if applicable, based on the linked studies and others. And, I found a few combo products (linked at the bottom) that contain multiple remedies in one!
All of these remedies are supported by placebo-controlled studies in humans. (All studies linked below are in humans, and all but one are placebo-controlled). Studies done in rodents also support these remedies.
Can be taken right before a stressful event to help (studies found good effects with 280 cals/50g of a dark chocolate bar, but you would likely need less when using cacao powder or nibs since they contain more flavanols)
Happy Saturday! Today I have a video for you where I go over a scientific study on what happens when people overeat sugar. Specifically, how much sugar you can turn into fat (through de novo lipogenesis), and whether sugar makes you fat.
This study compares lean and obese participants in terms of their de novo lipogenesis (DNL), which is the process of converting carbohydrates into fats in the body. The researchers fed people 3 diets for 4 days each: a control diet to maintain their weight, and two overfeeding diets. The participant were in a calorimeter room during these diets to measure exactly what they burned off, and their activity and rest was controlled. The control diet was a pretty normal, Western-style diet: about 50% carbs, 40% fat, and 10% protein.
In both overfeeding diets, they were overfed by 50%, half of which was fat (butter and oil added to meals), and half of which was sugar (sugary drinks). In one overfeeding diet, they were overfed with sugar in the form of glucose, and in the other diet, they were overfed sugar in the form of sucrose. There were no differences in the outcomes by the type of sugar, so I don’t talk about that in the video.
The researchers looked at what happened to the sugar especially: how much of it they burned off, how much of it they turned into fat, and how much it contributed to body fat gain. They also looked at whether fat or sugar leads to more increases in DNL, how the overfeeding diets affected insulin and blood sugar, and more. I spend most of the video going over the results, and what they mean for you!
Here are some notes on parts that I cut out of the video, since they’re more for people specifically interested in science!:
The effect of increased energy expenditure with the overfeeding diets wasn’t statistically significant, but there was a consistent increase in all 4 overfeeding groups (lean and obese, sucrose and glucose). Given the small number of subjects, it is likely this effect would be significant if more subjects were included. There are also other studies finding this increase in metabolism with increased food intake, which I plan to make another video on too! (e.g., https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2012202)
Fat balance and carbohydrate balance each explained 43% of the variance in DNL. Therefore, it appears that overeating generally rather than solely carbohydrate intake may be responsible for increasing DNL.
The numbers on the plot are in kilojoules, which is a standard scientific unit for energy. For the video, I converted it to calories to make it more applicable. If you look at the paper yourself, note that many of the numbers are in kJ (or grams, for macronutrient balances) per 96 hours.
The paper was funded by sugar interests, which would be a big problem if it were the only paper showing low rates of DNL like this, or if their main goal was to show how low DNL is. Luckily, there are many other studies showing similarly low rates of DNL, but I chose this one as the example for this video because it was a nice method, published in a top nutrition journal, and made the numbers available. The main goal of this study (aka what the sugar industry wanted) was actually to test the differences between sucrose and glucose in DNL–they found no effect. Also, they focused more on how DNL doubled than how low it was, suggesting their goal wasn’t to push a low-DNL sugar agenda.