Why Do We Binge?

English: MRI coronal view of the amygdala

English: MRI coronal view of the amygdala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The answer to this question lies in the brain, in your reptilian brain to be more exact. A recent study published in the journal Science points to evidence that high-fat and high-sugar binge eating is the result of faulty wiring in the amygdala of the brain’s hypothalamus. The amygdala is where your most heightened emotions are processed- like love, hate and fear. And thus, the hypothalamus, which is geared to drive us toward sex and reproduction, survival, and food procurement, connected to the amygdala with faulty wiring, can lead to disordered desires to binge-eat, especially on high-fat, high-caloric, and high-sugar foods. To boot, stress and certain environmental conditions can fuel this faulty circuitry and cause even greater bouts of binge eating.

This ties into the article I recently wrote on stress and cortisol’s effects on your waistline, and why it is more important now than ever to get a hold of the reigns of your stress and keep it at bay. When you combine these findings with what is already known about sugar’s dopamine-like effects on the brain, if we do not regulate our emotions and our stress levels, then it is harder than ever to control our body’s old and ancient response to stress, which is to eat higher-fat, higher-caloric foods and store these foods as fat.

Please take note, the intent of post this is not to give an out or an excuse to binge-eating, it is to point out that the wiring and neural connections in our brains can sometimes be faulty. However, there is also research out there that we have the ability to heal this within ourselves. So don’t wait for a drug to “cure” this if you find yourself binging regularly. There is much you can do to combat this yourself and you do not have to be a victim of your own biology.

What can you do to eliminate stress and begin to re-wire your brain to combat this response? Meditate. Exercise. Eat nutritious organic fruits and vegetables. Find time in your day to decompress, take a ten minute break, back away from your computer, from Facebook, from social media altogether, from your television and from everything else in your world that is stressing you out and making you feel inadequate or tied up in the rat-race. Reconnect to yourself and your more heightened emotions such as kindness, altruism and love. Little by little, you can fight back the urges of your reptilian brain and tap into the higher consciousness hidden within.

For more reading on these studies, go here:

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-overeating-brain-circuit-20130926,0,5832746.story

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/3/623.full

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390813002608

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Why Do We Binge?

  1. Is there a point where this binge cause takes effect? Is it before we start and makes us want to binge? Is it after we start eating and makes us be slower to stop? I guess I’m wondering if there’s a time point where I have a better chance to avoid the binge because the chemicals haven’t begun their fight against me.

    • It isn’t necessarily a question of timing but of wiring. The study showed that the same response occurred when the mice were completely satiated. So if you are finding yourself binging regularly and at random times it could be your wiring. But you can re-wire your brain through meditation (proven!) and create new neural pathways between your higher and lower brain. It takes time and dedication but it can be done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s