Because binge eating and food addiction are biological problems, answers to appetite control must begin with biology.
Restoring a healthy appetite starts with determining your unique biochemistry. Based on results from your laboratory evaluations, you can begin a program of nutritional support tailored just for you.
Traditionally, evaluation of nutritional status has not been a part of a psychiatric examination. A comprehensive metabolic evaluation is a critical component of helping people regain control of their appetite. Results from this laboratory assessment are used as a basis for developing a personalized nutritional program that optimizes health, enhances long-term recovery and, most importantly, prevents relapse.
- assess your biochemistry
- create an individualized supplement program
- consider amino acid supplements
- take vitamins and nutritional supplements
- change your lifestyle
- rely on diets
- try to do it yourself
- rely on artificial sweeteners
- rely solely on supplements
- give up hope
A metabolic assessment provides the answer to the often-neglected question: Are there any biological factors contributing to or actually causing your tendency to binge and lose control of your appetite? The answer is often “Yes!”
Most nutritional deficiencies are not evident from a standard physical or psychiatric examination. The nutritional assessment for disordered eating involves a number of laboratory tests. Some are conventional and commonly performed in a doctor’s office; others are not as well known. Discovering nutritional deficiencies and correcting them with proper supplementation will help you participate more effectively in recovery and discover new hope.
Following an individualized plan based on the results of your metabolic test to stabilize biochemical imbalances with food can break the addictive cycle of bingeing and restore a trustworthy appetite.
Understanding the neurobiology of addiction and your own genetic make-up should help you stop blaming yourself! Recognizing that we are all influenced, but not determined, by our genes should help you see the importance of an individualized strategy for appetite control. Addressing the challenges of co-occurring conditions like depression and ADHD are part of tailoring a program for you.
Once you identify genetic, emotional and nutritional factors that may lead you to overeat, you can shift the blame for overeating from your character to your biochemistry, where it rightly belongs. From this foundation you can treat disordered eating patterns, attacking problems at their source rather than simply—and temporarily—eradicating symptoms.
To control appetite, you need to experience a sense of fullness, rather than a continual craving for more. Amino acids can help you achieve a feeling of fullness
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine in various ways to make proteins. They form the molecular basis for neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, the keys to appetite control in the human body.
Supporting the diet with amino acids is the first step toward controlling appetite. Many patients experience a dramatic decline in cravings and in the desire to binge soon after they begin taking amino acid supplements. In my twenty years of clinical practice, I’ve found amino acids especially helpful in cases of binge eating, chronic cravings, depression and anxiety.
In fact, supplemental amino acids are the most helpful intervention in treating these illnesses.
Which vitamins and nutritional supplements you should take will depend on your unique biochemistry. Your assessment will determine the best supplements for you.
Nutritional supplements we frequently recommend include digestive enzymes, probiotics, B vitamins, L-methylfolate, trace minerals (zinc, chromium, magnesium), essential fatty acids, Curcumin and Inositol. A targeted nutritional supplement for sugar cravings is Gymnema
B vitamins are important to mood and appetite regulation. B6 is especially important as it is a cofactor in serotonin synthesis.• Inositol enhances insulin sensitivity and may be an effective treatment for depression.• Low folate levels are linked to depression. A form called L-methylfolate may work more effectively than regular folate supplements because it can cross the blood-brain barrier.• Chromium helps improve insulin function and may help ease depression, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain.• Magnesium helps fight insulin resistance and depression.• Zinc affects hormones and peptides that regulate the appetite. Too little zinc is related to depression and anorexia.• A deficiency or imbalance in essential fatty acids can contribute to depression, obesity and diabetes, all of which can affect eating habits and appetite.
When your body is provided with the right nutrients, you are better equipped to achieve success and regain control over your appetite, cravings and binge eating.
For some, nutritional supplements will change their biochemistry enough so they can control their appetite. In other cases, medication, therapy and lifestyle changes may also be necessary.
Avoid foods that trigger your particular biochemical sensitivities and eat foods that normalize appetite and metabolism. Also avoid food additives, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and monosodium glutamate (MSG). High fructose corn syrup throws the brain’s reward system out of kilter, setting in motion a process that can lead to addiction. The glutamate in MSG stimulates insulin production, leading to overeating. Eating under stressful circumstances can hinder optimal digestion. Eating regular meals and snacks in a relaxing environment will set the stage for you to control your appetite while living diet-free.
Beware of books or speakers that promise One True Way to regaining control over appetite!
Diets rarely work long-term. Those with discipline may be able to lose weight, but eventually cravings typically get the best of most people. Using appetite control, you can reduce or even eliminate your cravings, so you will be able to lose weight and not have to worry about succumbing to your cravings.
Trying to solve your overeating problem on your own can be frustrating and is bound to lead to failure. Binge eating disorder is both complex and pervasive, and is impossible to resolve with logic or willpower alone. An effective treatment plan incorporates advanced medical and psychological approaches that are specifically tailored to one’s unique biochemistry and experiences. An experienced team will be needed to develop a plan that works for you.
You should work with a healthcare provider familiar with biochemical individuality to create an individualized supplement program based on the results of your metabolic tests. Don’t try to figure it out yourself, as overloading on supplements or taking those you don’t need can be expensive and frustrating, as well as leading to another journey to failure.
While artificial sweeteners may seem like an attractive option for those seeking to control their weight and appetite, clearly, these non-nutritive additives may have an opposite effect.
Artificial sweeteners are several hundred times sweeter than sugar and causes blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners were developed to avoid the negative consequences associated with refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS); however, studies show that they, in fact, have the very same negative consequences.
Moreover, they cause other physical ailments not associated with the ingestion of refined sugar and HFCS. Limiting intake of refined sugar, HFCS and artificial sweeteners can help curb your addiction to food and restore metabolic and physical health.
My approach is not to suggest that there is one answer to appetite control. Instead, it is a comprehensive approach that evolves from the field of integrative medicine.
Just as there is rarely only one contributing factor to disordered eating, there is rarely one simple solution. The forces that fuel binge eating and food addiction are complex. Once the nature of an individual’s eating patterns have been carefully identified, recovery is most successful with a combination of three interventions:
- Nutritional supplementation
- Medications if needed
- Lifestyle changes
In a modern world where food is entwined with nearly everything we do, the appetite that once served as a mechanism for survival can quickly turn problematic. An appetite gone awry permeates all areas of one’s life, from social interactions, mood and emotional connections, to the physical health of the immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
Food addiction and binge eating disorder are serious medical diagnoses that evolve when appetite spins out of control. Binge eating disorder is both complex and pervasive and impossible to resolve with logic or willpower alone. An effective treatment plan incorporates advanced medical and psychological approaches that are specifically tailored to one’s unique biochemistry and experiences.
When equipped with the necessary building blocks, the body is able to recover the innate biochemical stability that guides appropriate eating, making a healthy relationship with food become possible. We’ve described the tools you need to step off the roller coaster of disordered eating and take back control over your life.
Diets don’t work, but appetite control does.
Appetite is not an issue of willpower or psychological weakness. It’s an issue of biochemistry. When your biochemistry is adjusted, your appetite can be controlled without constant vigilance and self-restraint.
Addressing appetite control is involves:
- Laboratory tests to determine a person’s biochemistry
- Nutritional supplements, based on the test results
- Lifestyle changes, including avoiding food additives such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Taking these steps can restore a body’s balance and make a healthy relationship with food possible.