Whether you are a self-confessed compulsive eater, a compulsive dieter or have been diagnosed with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, getting your eating habits back in balance and your body functioning optimally again is no easy task. Certainly, any type of disordered eating pattern usually has a psychological component that must be addressed. But there is also a strong physiological and biochemical component that is overlooked in many medical circles. The cause and effect aspect of some of these problems is unclear. What is clear, however, is that if any of these factors are out of balance, recovering from a food problem of any kind will be difficult.
Regulating Brain Chemistry
First of all, it is important to regulate our brain chemistry via neurotransmitters, the chemicals found in our brains that affect our thoughts, feelings and levels of alertness. Imbalances in the brain chemistry can cause depression and anxiety, and they can be triggers for “emotional eating.” While millions of prescriptions are written every year for anti-depressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, a much safer and more natural approach, without side effects, is by using amino acid therapy to boost the body’s own production of neurotransmitters.
Balancing Blood Sugar
Secondly, it is important to balance blood sugar, so that cravings are reduced and mood swings and irritability are relieved. Eating frequent small meals, having sufficient protein with each meal and exercising regularly are important factors here. Too much sugar and carbohydrate cause large fluctuations in insulin, the hormone that promotes energy uptake and storage into cells, which can cause serious health problems down the road.
Digestive health and good liver function are central to good health. Years of dieting, overeating or erratic food intake wreak havoc on our digestive systems, causing poor nutrient absorption, the possibility of yeast overgrowth or candida, and a host of uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating and heartburn. Candida is common is people who have overeaten sugars and starches (yeast feeds off sugar), and then it can worsen food cravings, so a vicious cycle starts.
Hormonal regulation is key. The adrenal gland is central to many factors involved with blood sugar regulation, metabolism and the production of other hormones. Yet most of us live with chronic stress, which can either over-stimulate or fatigue the adrenal gland. Low thyroid function can be a factor in weight gain or the inability to lose weight. Many hormones are made from cholesterol, so a highly fat-restricted diet, or a diet laden with the wrong types of fats, can cause deficiencies of hormones such as estrogens and progesterone, leading to amenorrhea, low sex drive, and a range of other symptoms.
Identifying Food Allergies
Food allergies and sensitivities often play a role in eating habits. Identifying these culprits can be a great help in avoiding binges or cravings. We often crave the foods that we have allergies or sensitivities to. And typically, we do not realize the extent of how troublesome those foods are until we eliminate them and experience the difference in how we feel.
So how do we know where the imbalances are?
Through a series of non-invasive lab tests, we can determine which systems are struggling and what aspects might be contributing to your health issues. Lab testing protocols are highly individualized, but may include thyroid and adrenal hormone panels, food allergy testing, looking for metabolites yeasts such as candida, testing for gluten sensitivity, assessing zinc and other mineral deficiencies, and assessing sugar balance.
This type of program has been successful with people in many different situations, from chronic dieters to bulimics, and even to alcoholics. Anyone who has tried to diet, stop drinking, stop overeating or curb any addictive pattern knows that willpower alone is not the answer. A program such as this brings the body back into balance, regulates the brain chemistry and provides relief from the powerful cravings and mood swings that go with feeling out of control of our own health and well-being. Once everything is back in balance, a healthy weight is easy to achieve and maintain.