Constant desire to eat, independent of hunger. Serotonin addiction?

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Constant desire to eat, independent of hunger. Serotonin addiction?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Merryme 7 years, 5 months ago.

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  • Hello – I’m hoping someone with some knowledge on this subject can help me with what I can only describe as a food addiction. No intentions here to trivialise serious addiction – I just can’t think of a more appropriate descriptor for what I am experiencing.

    I have fasted on and off for 3 years now. On this particular occasion I am trying to listen to my body and pay attention to my behaviours in a genuine attempt to break the habits of a lifetime. I realise that I on non-fast days, I can eat constantly. To the point of feeling uncomfortably full. Every non-fast day last week I did exactly that. I had snacks available to me all day, and I ate my way through all of them. But I didn’t do that because I was hungry. I could feel that I was physically full up, but I couldn’t help myself from carrying on until there was nothing left in my snacks box.

    In the past I have simply tried to not fill the snack box up. But this creates such a feeling of depravation for me, long term, that I have never been able to stick to any kind of diet etc for very long. I want to crak the habit entirely and not need to worry if my snack box is full or not. I want to be able to look food in the face and look away again, without that itchy nervousness that comes from telling myself I can’t have it.

    Having done a little bit of research, I wonder whether my brain is urging me to eat continuously because I have a serotonin addiction? I hope that doesn’t sound silly.

    Can anyone with any information on this help me out? Thanks x

    With me it is sugar that causes that intolerable need to keep eating. I had to cut out high and medium sugar foods, including fruit.

    Hi NatashaD, I haven’t heard the theory regarding seratonin and continuous appetite. I understand the constant unrelenting drive to eat and the inability to leave food alone if it’s there in sight – these are normal issues for me daily.

    The only scientific discovery I have heard of is from gene research – for those with a continual craving for food, there is a gene that has been identified that causes this disconnect between genuine hunger and appetite.

    Hi Natasha,

    You could be possibly be addicted to serotonin or more likely addicted to sugar and the answer is the same for both. You need to cut out processed carbs and sugars and try replacing snacks with raw carrots, slices of cucumber etc. I also suggest you narrow your eating window on non fast days to 8 hours by only eating between noon and 8pm. It’ll be tough and will probably take a while for your body to get used to it and you’ll have to use every ounce of self control you have but if you really want to lose weight and keep it off the only way to do so is change your diet permanently.

    hi Natasha,

    I’m not sure I have a great scientific answer. I do understand that appetite is complex.

    I struggle with periods of overeating/compulsive eating whereby I want to eat everything in sight, that ranges from somewhat healthy “low sugar foods” such as porridge to the more typical foods that people overeat on such as cake, bread and biscuits. It’s embarrassing, I can be at work, in the company of others and I quite openly just have to eat… I can’t hide it,. I do everything I can to avoid this- or prepare for it, i.e, try not to keep sons of foods in the house, try to exercise, keep busy, avoid too much time in the kitchen ensure I get adequate sleep (not easy). Although it’s hard with a family and guests wanting certain foods in the house (I mean most people have cereals in the cupboard, but I can’t even keep shred dies in the cupboard for a week!) but also have to face a low mood (that instantly disappears when eating) if i am not overeating.

    I often wonder why, sometimes, all I can think about it food and at these points I am ashamed to say I can clear the cupboards at home, I have to ask people to hide foods from me. I have tried the approach of just loving myself, letting myself off the hook and allowing myself to eat these foods (in case this was a rebound psychological restriction thing) but hat makes it even worse, I can honestly say when I’m low, when I’m eating I can feel euphoric, again not undermining addiction but I feel frantic, I just want more and this becomes like a priority in mob brain, it’s horrible actually I can’t focus on anything else). Yet other times I can “take it or leave it” with the healthy carbs although food has always provided me with a “high” in a different way to my friends/husband, they view food as “yay yummy” but then they stop when full, or have an extra slice of cake then feel guilty.

    Note I am always at risk with high sugar foods, for example someone brought in some chocolate crisps cakes at work, I had one, then moved onto six and went to the shop and brought two chocolate bars. Again for me personally I can’t touch the high sugar foods, all they do is provide a compulsion to eat more I am not sure that’s related to low serotonin levels but just that sugar is addictive.

    Flitting back to your original question, why I think for me food is connected to low serotonin levels is because for me, I can’t understand it in the moment, it’s the urge to overeat on healthy carbs when my mood is low, people will say how could you eat a whole sauce pan of porridge? I can keep going. The fact that’s is always a carbohydrate makes me think this must be connected to serotonin. I think I probably have low serotonin levels/or happy hormones naturally but when something such as hormones, illness or no sleep arise, my mood dips and my appetite hits the roof. My poor husband stares at me as I overeat on foods he has to force himself to eat such as whole grains, and I compulsively eat them. I am ashamed, I would feel less so if I just ate extra then thought oh well I have over eaten now move on, but when I am like this I just want to keep going.

    I maybe an oddball (very likely), and my theory might be incorrect, you did ask for the opinions of an expert, which I am not, but I do know from my own experience when I teether on depression, my carb intake and compulsion to eat carbs is overwhelming. I try not to absolve from responsibility but I am absolutely sure they will find a lot more about genetic propensity /brain health linked to appetite/ food consumption. If my appetite starts increasing and I start bingeing if I reflect I can quite often identify something that may have caused low serotonin i.e i always get moody before a cold or flu develops and whereby most people lose their appetite, not me! Also I can look at the calendar if I am bingeing and see it’s a particular time of the month. It will sound like I am excusing myself from overeating, but this is different to your “that’s yummy cheese cake I’ll have two or three slices” this a feeling whereby I want to keep going and not stopping.

    It’s also why fasting is of interest to me, after watching the initial Horizon programme I thought”yep I can be a compulsive eater”. I’ve never really managed to keep it up and in the back of my mind I’m scared it will make bingeing worse, but here are some who have said it has helped.

    I know there are some conditions that lead to overreacting, I know of a gentleman with alzheimer’s, who, props to diagnosis became depressed and started eating more, compulsively and hiding food, literally gained stones and stones in weight over the course of a year, and had been a sensible eater all his life then suddenly became ver overweight.

    I would love to hear someone like Mr Mosley’s thoughts on such matters. I guess we are all individual and I may not be very self aware, but I think the only way we can move forward is know what we do about ourselves, my husband and friends keep saying have regular snacks, offer me cake and it doesn’t help (they have my best interests at heart) but you know you and what might help or doesn’t (worth keeping a diary to note if there are better periods?).

    What has helped me:

    Getting enough good quality sleep,
    Coffee – I hav to be careful, too much is counterintuitive,
    Running – there is a certain point when exercising that food no longer dominates my mind.
    Stress reduction/ eating healthily to improve immune so don’t get ill whenever I’m ill my mood plummets.

    What I am still debating:
    Veggies and proteins focusing on the nutritional content of food – I’m cautious about this one as I thinking about food too much isn’t helpful!
    fasting, I haven’t tried it properly but I can see that you have (well done!!) but I fear it may make bingeing worse.

    Great topic and responses so far. I can identify with this a little, although my eating on non-fast days isn’t as intense as yours, Natasha.

    My problem is nuts. I like eating raw nuts especially walnuts, almonds and pecans, which are supposedly good for you. But I can go so far overboard that I still feel sick the next day from eating too many.

    It’s a constant struggle, something that at 59 years old I feel will never completely go away for me. I just deal with it the best I can and go on with my life.

    I hope someone can post a “Magic bullet” that can give us the secret to not overeat, but I don’t think that exists. I’ve drastically cut way back on sugar successfully over the last few years but still eat some chocolate once a week. I can’t have too much because I now find it too sweet and stop after a few pieces. However, I can’t eliminate carbs long term. They’re just too delicious, and I enjoy making my own bread. I’ve tried in the past but after a while the feeling of deprivation overcomes my common sense, I give in and then tend to go overboard with the carbs. I think that’s more destructive to my well being than not cutting them out in the first place.

    I wish you success with your weight loss and fasting goals.


    Hi folks,

    I have something to add to this discussion re my own experiences with ‘addiction’ to certain foods. I need to look something up for reference and accuracy, and I may have to post in 2-3 times because my time available is short at the moment, but I will try to get it done today. Back in a little while,


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