The Korea Herald


Eating just the right amount


Published : Sept. 29, 2011 - 15:25

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Have you ever kept eating even when you are full?

Overeating can cause not only weight gain but also gastroesophageal reflux, which can damage the internal organs.

Prof. Kim Jong-gab of Konkuk University Institute of Body Culture Study said people nowadays are more likely to overeat than in the past.

“Eating is one of the most intimate things. You feel the food on the lips and in the stomach. As society has become more competitive than ever, people try to substitute their solitude and desire for soft touches from others with foods felt in the mouth and stomach,” he said.

Dr. Daniel Amen of Amen Clinics, author of the “The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off,” suggests a more physical compulsion behind overeating.

“Many of the foods we eat are additives, especially those filled a with certain combination of salt, sugar and fat. We have to be careful about the food we eat or we will lose control,” he told The Korea Herald in an email interview.

Amen said overeating can increase the inflammation inside the body and damage many different systems including the brain.

It is easy to say “stop” when you think you are full. But putting that into action is another matter.

Amen suggested that people should first figure out their own characteristics before adjusting their diet.

Five characteristics of overeaters

In his book, he classified eaters into five groups.

1. Compulsive eater: Those who have a powerful urge, almost lust, to eat all the time are compulsive eaters. Focusing on protein, such as meat consumption, will not help. Such food may prompt one’s insatiable desire to eat.

Instead, eating carbohydrates is much better. Serotonin secreted by the brain will make you feel content and satisfied.

2. Impulsive eater: People prone to eating, easily distracted, disorganized or often running late can be considered as impulsive eaters. They tend to hold back their desires well but let them go at the last minute.

Eating carbohydrates is not a good idea because serotonin may stimulate their desire even more. Dopamine, released through the consumption of chicken, steak, fish and other high protein foods, could be helpful because it comforts and controls the strong impulse.

3. Compulsive-impulsive eater: When a person shares both characteristics mentioned above, it is highly likely that the family shares addictive personalities, too. The combination of foods from both groups as well as green tea will reduce the cravings. Lots of exercise will help.

Alcohol may lead one to eat more or feel tempted to eat junk food.

4. Emotional eater: Those who find comfort in eating and feel anxious all the time usually lack vitamin D. So increasing the vitamin D intake will help a lot. Eggs, mackerel, liver and walnuts are good.

Being alone for too long or getting too little sleep can also disrupt eating habits.

5. Anxious eater: Those who have regular headaches and muscle tension, heart palpitations or are jumpy can be classified as anxious eaters. Wholegrains, lentils, dairy products, citrus fruits, spinach, almonds, walnuts and foods rich in amino acids can help calm the brain.

On the other hand, too much protein may stress out the digestive system.

What you can do

Amen also stressed the importance of keeping the blood sugar level stable.

“Low blood sugar levels are associated with lower levels of overall blood flow into the brain. Researchers found that drug addicts were much more likely to relapse when their blood sugar levels were low,” he said.

“To keep your blood sugar stable, make sure you eat high-quality food with some protein 4-5 times a day. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night. Less than six hours of sleep is associated with lower overall blood flow to the brain which means more bad decisions,” he said.

Amen advised people to quit drinking alcohol.

“Have you ever wondered why they serve free alcohol at casinos? It is because if you drink it you are much more likely to make bad decisions and give them more of our money.”

But most of all, what is important is to ask yourself about the motivation to live long, be healthy and have a good brain.

“If I am not healthy I will never be my best for the people who need me. I never want to be a burden to my children. I want to be the leader of my family, but the only way that is possible, is if I have a good brain,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (