Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Weird facts about overeating, endorphins, opioids and weight loss

Why do we eat? Because it feel good. Ergo we overeat because it feels really good, right? Ergo obesity is caused by over enjoyment of food, right? Well, yes and no. The TLC show "My 600-lb Life" folks always demonstrate raging food addiction but not to all foods. They overeat too much of certain foods. So clearly, some foods release more feel good hormones that others. Here are some weird facts about food-released endorphins which, if applied correctly, can aid weight loss.

So we know that eating produces endorphins AKA naturally occurring opioids AKA feel good hormones. But some foods produce MORE endorphins (here's the weird part) while also producing LESS enjoyment?! I know, right??

A study in the Journal of Neuroscience gave two groups of test subjects different meals: pizza and nutritional shakes (I know which group I'd rather be in LOL). Anyway, PET scans showed that the ones who got shakes had higher levels of opioids BUT they reported less pleasure than those who had pizza. The conclusion was that feelings of pleasure from food are independent from actual endorphin release. (Ya think??)

I'm no brain surgeon, but I coulda told them that. Pizza tastes better than diet shakes. It may have to do with the addictive properties in cheese and the MSG in sausage and pepperoni. This is probably why pizza is a comfort food. These are common things in junk food and why they cause such cravings. The endorphin rush is bigger but taste is what drives overeating. It's like Charlie the Tuna--Starkist doesn't want tunas with good taste but tunas that taste good!

Okay so now we know why we overeat. Great. But how do we stop it? We don't. I for one, like food and plan to continue eating the food I like. BUT, I can use the knowledge to strategize weight loss. For example, I can make foods I love--like pizza--using weight loss food swaps. Last night, I made a super low calorie pizza with reduced calorie thin crust, lowfat mozzarella and half the sauce and pepperoni.  

I also can avoid or limit super feel good foods that spur cravings. For example, I'm really jonesing for more of that pizza. I'm literally obsessing on it. So until I've lost weight, I may forego pizza. I'll just look for foods that give a similar if not quite so powerful zing. I can also use mind over platter and remember that I'm still getting the head rush whatever I eat. 

It's really important that we start curbing these food addictions because more people are getting fatter, finds the CDC. I always use "My 600-lb Life" because it provides a "laboratory" of dangerous habits that we can all learn from. It's time to get to the root of obesity and food addiction and get serious about weight loss. 

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