The last reason for weight gain and obesity, that we are going to cover in the series of “Reasons for weight loss resistance”, is Hyperphagia. Let’s start with defining what hyperphagia really means.
According to Merriam Webster dictionary hyperphagia means: “abnormally increased appetite for consumption of food frequently associated with injury to the hypothalamus”. One of the many functions of the hypothalamus is to control hunger.
There are many different disorders that can cause hyperphagia, some are genetics where as some or completely behavioral.
Hyperphagia (also referred to as polyphagia) can be caused by:
- Diabetes mellitus- in which the body cannot produce enough insulin or the insulin is not working efficiently enough.
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels)
- Bulimia: a condition where a person has episodes of loss of control of eating and ends up eating excessively for a particular period of time. These episodes are then followed by compensatory behaviors like vomiting, laxative use, fasting or the use of medications to lose weight.
- Binge eating disorder
- Hyperthyroidism (raised levels of thyroid hormone)
- Premenstrual syndrome: In premenstrual syndrome, which is the time just before a menstrual period, a woman often experiences an increased appetite especially for high fat and high sugar food. The increase in appetite is possibly triggered by the hormonal changes before menstruation.
- Certain prescription drugs such as corticosteroids
- Rare medical conditions such as Kleine-Levin Syndrome and Prader-Willi Syndrome
- Leptin resistance- Leptin levels at normal conditions are proportional to fat mass and they act as hunger inhibitors.
How to cure hyperphagia?
Since there are so many different reasons, which can cause hyperphagia, it is hard to know exactly how to treat it. Here are my recommendations as how to go about treating hyperphagia, if you suspect you are suffering from this disorder:
First of all before anything, try to pinpoint the underlying result. The easiest way is to discuss this with your health care professional.
If this is due to your hormonal imbalances, your health care professional might be able to recommend some hormonal replacement therapies.
If it is due to depression, anxiety or stress, in not so severe cases, you might be able to just avoid the situations that cause you to feel stressed, depressed or anxious. And in more severe cases, you need to ask for help and talk to a professional.
If this is due to an eating disorder (such as binge eating), then you might want to try following steps:
- Avoid buying the trigger foods. These are the foods that take away your will power to stop eating. Most common trigger foods are junk foods such as potato chips or candies, but some healthy foods can have the same effect. Identify these foods and avoid buying them
- If you must buy your trigger food, divide it into the right portion size and each day only have that specific portion size available. Keep the rest somewhere that are not accessible.
- Go shopping with a list of what you need and avoid browsing in the aisles that carry your trigger foods.
- If all these fail, ask for help and talk to a professional about how to heal your eating disorder.
Unfortunately, in our western society these days, we have so many triggers that guide us toward overeating, eating unhealthy and snacking all day. Fast food restaurants are so convenient and they are on every corner. Unhealthy foods usually tend to be very cheap and abundant, so anyone can buy them. Have you seen any vending machine that dispenses Carrots?? You turn on the TV and most of the commercials are about junk foods. Honestly, I have not seen any commercial about Kales or spinach or in fact any leafy green vegetable. Have you ever seen a commercial, about eating fresh organic berries?
So, it is on us as consumer to be aware of what we choose to eat and eat and shop smart and healthy.
Hope you found these series of articles all about “Reasons behind weight loss resistance” helpful.
Stay happy and healthy