Binging is an action that is a sign something in the body needs assistance, and certain hormone imbalances that cause you to binge, might be the entire reason you can’t seem to stop. Diets don’t work. Books don’t work. Reading blog after blog for answers doesn’t work, so what does? Getting your hormones balanced does, along with being aware. To get over binging, you’ve got to get real with yourself, and get real about your hormones. Read what hormone imbalances that cause you to binge might be the reason you can’t seem to stop and start today on making a lifelong change.
The most well known hormone involved in hormone imbalances that cause you to binge is cortisol. This hormone is secreted in the body, any time your body senses you are stressed. It can happen during exercise, a traumatic event, or in a state of flight or fight, where you’re in panic mode. Cortisol is actually given to us for a reason. It’s made to give us a sense of anxiousness for times of emergency when we might need a huge burst in energy. Yet, when our body starts to release cortisol when we aren't in an emergency, we need to figure out why and how to fix it. When cortisol takes over, your body naturally turns to food to comfort it quickly. Fat and sugar calm and satiate the brain and nerves, so when you’re stressed, eating is an ingrained survival mechanism your body reaches for to calm you quickly. To manage cortisol secretion in the body, it is very important to eat more calming foods that won’t spike your blood sugar like fatty and sugary foods will. Not all fats are bad, so I don’t want to imply that, but they are hard to stop eating when you’re stressed. As you’ll see below, protein is the best way to do that, along with other foods.
Serotonin is the best hormone to fight depression and anxiety. It is that happy hormone that sends a calming sensation through your body. Serotonin is produced when tryptophan rich foods are eaten. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and can help you fight that crazy feeling you get when you’re stressed. Foods high in tryptophan include eggs, pumpkin, turkey, fish, leafy greens, yogurt, oats, chicken, and sweet potatoes. Other calming foods include magnesium rich foods such as chocolate, leafy greens, almonds, fish, yogurt, oats, vegetables and all seeds. Magnesium rich foods offer the same calming properties as tryptophan and help induce serotonin production in the body.
Insulin is the hormone your body uses to store fat, and it is released by a surge in your blood sugar. When you binge, your blood sugar is likely already high, or will be high, after a binge. You need to control your blood sugar to be able to stop binging and stop the excess insulin. Insulin feels like you’re so hungry, no matter what you just ate, or how much you’ve eaten all day. It makes you feel hungry, even if you aren’t. To keep insulin low, it is best to eat regular meals and snacks that are rich in protein, non-starchy veggies and moderate fats, and keep your carbs lower. You don’t need to quit eating carbs, but be careful about eating them alone, and choose lower glycemic options.
How’s your sleep been lately? I struggled with insomnia, sleeping late in the morning, and being tired during the day. My sleep levels were incredibly messed up because of my hormones, and leptin, was a hormone that caused binging issues for me. Leptin is a hormone that is produced while you sleep, and it tells you when to stop eating and if you’re full. If you become deprived of sleep, leptin levels are offset and your sensors lose their working magic. To combat this, I started taking a GABA supplement to calm my nerves at night and help me sleep, helping me to wake up after 8 hours of sleep. I’m not a doctor and can’t tell you this will work for you, but it did for me. I also found a magnesium supplement to be helpful in getting enough rest. Getting your leptin levels restored allows your brain to register when you are full, so long as you choose healthy foods to eat.
Because of all the things I put my body through the last 15 years,and until I recovered, estrogen was one of the main hormones causing my binging. Estrogen sends a sense of happiness throughout the body, energy, and prevents depression. Too much or too little estrogen in the body can lead to alterations in hunger levels and hunger cues, or can cause depression leading to binging. To figure out if your levels are too high or low, you’ll need to get tested by your doctor.
Ghrelin is a hormone that sort of acts as leptin’s partner because it is also affected by your sleep. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you how often you need to eat. It is the little signal that says, “Okay, I need a meal or snack now”. For ghrelin to be regulated, sleep is necessary. This means you need to take action to be sure and get 8 hours sleep a night, and try to go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time every morning.
Another important sleep hormone is melatonin. This hormone tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Melatonin levels in the body can be offset by the time change, or when the seasons change. It can also be disrupted by a stressful time or crisis you might be dealing with. You can easily regulate your melatonin levels and get them back to normal with a temporary supplement. They’re available over the counter, and just taking them for a week can get your levels back to normal. When your body is low in melatonin. your hunger levels become offset, and it can also cause depression, mood disorders and feeling fatigued. If you’re not sleeping well, consider a supplement to regulate your body again.
Binging is a hard issue to overcome, but I promise it isn’t impossible. If you’re struggling, I urge you to get help through the NEDA website at nationaleatingdisorders.org, or feel free to visit my blog if you need emotional support at soulfulspoon.com. Have you ever dealt with hormonal imbalances? What issues did they cause for you?