Overeating? Berries can put you back in control

We all have times when we overeat. Maybe we can’t control ourselves around the homemade potato salad and Italian sausages at a Fourth of July picnic. Or we have two pieces of German chocolate cake instead of one at our sister’s birthday party. Or we eat a huge plate of pasta (and garlic bread) in one sitting.

From an evolutionary perspective, getting enough calories is necessary for our survival… which means we’re wired to eat when food’s available. Unfortunately, in a time where food is abundantly available, this can create problems. Just like getting enough calories is necessary for our survival, not getting too many calories is necessary for survival too…

Not only can overeating regularly cause you to gain weight, but it can also increase your risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cognitive decline and cancer. It can also cause inflammation, digestive issues and fatigue that can make you feel “blah” and prevent you from enjoying your life to the fullest. The problem is, the more you overeat, the harder it is to stop…

That’s because overeating disrupts the balance of hormones that regulate your appetite. In fact, eating fatty, salty, sugary and high-calorie foods (the kinds we’re most likely to overeat) triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, your feel-good brain chemical. Your brain then starts to associate these foods with pleasure and may override the feeling of fullness caused by hormones like leptin. In other words? Overeating leads to more overeating.

But there could be a simple way to put an end to this vicious cycle. Research shows that eating a certain fruit during the day can help prevent you from overeating later on…

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Why berries keep you full, satisfied and healthy

A study from researchers at Loughborough University in England shows that munching on berries in the afternoon can help you consume significantly less food throughout the day. In this test, the researchers found that people who snacked on berries ate less at a later meal than folks who snacked on bars, cookies or other confectionery snacks.

This may be because berries are chock-full of fiber, particularly soluble fiber. Research shows that soluble fiber causes food to move through your digestive tract slower. This makes you feel full for longer. In fact, one study found that eating twice as much fiber can cause you to lower your calorie intake by 130 calories per day.

Berries also contain natural compounds called anthocyanins that can help regulate your blood sugar and protect against type 2 diabetes. Research from the University of East Anglia in England found that berries help make the body more sensitive to insulin — the hormone that takes glucose out of the blood.

Related: Is there really an anti-diabetes drink? Think berries!

The natural compounds found in berries also reduce inflammation, which is linked to heart problems, obesity and cancer.

Plus, you’ll find that snacking on berries makes you feel better mood-wise than indulging in sweet treats like cookies or cakes. That’s because the antioxidants in berries also make positive changes to brain health and promote a more positive mood.

Boost your berry intake to stop overeating

It’s summertime, which means it’s the best time of year to buy berries because they’re in-season. In many parts of the country, you can even grow your own berries. They’re easy plants to care for, and nothing beats the taste and experience of eating a berry right off the bush. If you’re lucky, you may even have some wild berries growing near where you live (but make sure to use a reputable ID guide or website before you snack on them).

In the offseason, frozen berries are a great option. In fact, some research shows that frozen blueberries contain even more antioxidants than fresh ones. However, you choose to get your berries, make sure to eat plenty — at least a cup or two per day — and get started right away. Because the more berries you eat now, the less junk food you’ll eat later.

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Sources:

  1. An afternoon snack of berries reduces subsequent energy intake compared to an isoenergetic confectionary snack — Appetite.
  2. 7 Harmful Effects of Overeating — Healthline.
  3. 11 Reasons Why Berries Are Among the Healthiest Foods on Earth — Healthline.
  4. 5 foods that may help up you stay positive and get a ‘mood boost’ —Good Morning America.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.