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Adhd overeating: How to Stop Binge Eating When Bored

How to Stop Binge Eating When Bored

The Link Between ADHD and Overeating

Those who live by impulse eat by impulse. Eating compulsively is a main cause of obesity in many adults with ADHD. I have found that the condition is five times more prevalent among over-eaters than in the general population. Just as adults with ADHD may struggle to understand what someone is saying, they have difficulty interpreting what their bodies are telling them. They mistake feeling upset (or bored) for feeling hungry and many reach for food to combat boredom.

I’ve come up with tips specifically designed for overeaters who have ADHD. Notice that there are no recipes. It’s all about changing the way you think, feel, and behave.

Use Your ADHD Brain to Lose Weight

Having ADHD is like having a good engine and lousy brakes. Instead of focusing on “not eating,” focus your high-revving brain on something positive — such as cooking healthy food or starting an exercise program.

Don’t Expect to Resist Food Temptations

Try to avoid them instead. Keep the foods you typically overeat out of the house. If you must eat ice cream or a Big Mac, do so infrequently, and only with a watchdog friend or in public.

Take Time to Exercise

Do what doesn’t come naturally, when you feel a slump in energy or mood. Force yourself (without asking whether you feel like it) into a short burst of activity, such as a brisk 10-minute walk. This will leave you with greater energy, decreased tension, and less subjective hunger.

[Are You “Chemically Wired” to Gain Weight?]

Avoid Boredom and Stimulate Your ADHD Brain

Get your minimum daily requirement of stimulation. Boredom and restlessness frequently translate into hunger. Doing interesting tasks will decrease your reliance on food for amusement. Avoid TV, which provides little brain stimulation, and is a common trigger for overeating.

Schedule When You Eat

People with ADHD are often unaware of their feelings. The tendency to think three steps ahead often disconnects them from what they feel at the moment. They need to be reminded to eat, in order to avoid getting hungry and overdoing it. Eat something every four hours. The stimulation may lessen feelings of restlessness.

Pay Attention to the Experience of Eating

More than the actual enjoyment of food, it’s the anticipation of pleasure that causes most binge eating. The next time you binge, ask yourself whether you are enjoying your food, and ask again every five minutes. Are you tasting your food or gulping it, so you can move on to something else?

Teach Yourself When to Stop Eating

Use preset serving sizes. Focus on your changing feelings during a meal; practice stopping at different feeling states that precede “stuffed.” Eat with a friend who can make you aware of these states.

[Free Guide: What to Eat (and Avoid) for Improved ADHD Symptoms]

Don’t Give Up If You Blow it

Don’t berate yourself when you make a mistake. If yelling at yourself were effective, wouldn’t you be perfect by now? Restart your healthy eating plan and forget the past.

Slim Up Faster with these Tips

  • Eat less by using a smaller plate — and always leaving something on it.
  • Do sit-ups, crunches, and core exercises to firm up your stomach and decrease the size of your waist.
  • Make your stomach look smaller by making other parts of you look bigger. Lift weights to build up your chest, shoulders, and arms.
  • Avoid perfectionism and don’t give up. Results take time. Go easy on yourself and be patient. One day — and one pound — at a time.

–Bob Seay

[Is There a Link Between Eating Disorders and Women with ADHD?]

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Brain Reward Response Linked to Binge Eating and ADHD

For some people, ADHD symptoms may play a role in their ability to plan and eat meals that leave them feeling full but not uncomfortable and can contribute to binge eating patterns.

Researchers and clinicians are examining the reasons why. They are looking for effective treatments to help people better cope with disrupted eating patterns, along with eating disorders.

Symptoms of binge eating

Binge eating disorder is characterized by eating large amounts of food in short periods of time, often when a person is not hungry, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. People who binge eat feel as if they don’t have control over how much they eat and have feelings of guilt or self-loathing after a binge eating episode.

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States. People with ADHD are at an increased risk for eating disorders, including bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating. However, research has been focused on binge eating specifically, due to the large number of people with both ADHD and a binge eating disorder. Duke University estimates that about 30 percent of adults with binge eating disorder also have a history of ADHD. Binge eating and related obesity can underlie health problems like heart disease and diabetes, prompting researchers to study what treatments might be most effective.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Vyvanse as a treatment option for both ADHD and binge eating. Vyvanse targets the brain’s reward center by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, the chemicals of the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure. Along with finding more treatment options, greater education on the connection between ADHD and binge eating is needed to help prevent health issues in people who have ADHD and binge eating disorder.

ADHD can contribute to eating disorders

Some people with ADHD also have binge eating disorder, thought to be related to a greater response in the brain’s reward system, according to a recent study. Study participants with either high or low levels of ADHD symptoms and a history of binge eating were shown pictures of food and non-food items. Researchers noted increased brain activity in the participants with high ADHD symptoms when they looked at pictures of food. The researchers concluded this heightened brain response may be why having ADHD includes an increased risk of also having a binge eating disorder.

The study also tested participants’ impulse control responses and found there were no differences in the results of those with low or high levels of ADHD symptoms. This led the researchers to conclude that impulsivity is not the main cause of binge eating in individuals with ADHD, as previously thought.

In a similar study, Allan Kaplan, MD, of the University of Toronto found that adults with binge eating disorder “are more sensitive to food-related rewards than most people” and found there is “ a genetic basis—certain genes make individuals more susceptible to reward and thus more likely to engage in binges.”

For the people with ADHD who participated in the first study, food or food images triggered the reward center of the brain at a higher level than in people in the same study who do not have ADHD. This reaction may be why many people who have ADHD who binge eat feel they cannot control their eating.

Ways to address overeating

If you have ADHD and find yourself binge eating, it is important to be evaluated by a doctor who specializes in ADHD and eating disorders.

“Many individuals with ADHD are on a ‘see food’ diet. If they see it, they eat it,” says Roberto Olivardia, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of ADHD and eating disorders.

There are things you can do to practice healthy eating. Dr. Olivardia recommends becoming more aware of what and how much you eat and setting aside time for meal planning. Portioning out your food, such as putting chips in a bowl instead of eating out of the bag, can help you be aware of how much you eat. Reading the nutritional content on food packages can help with deciding on how much to enjoy at one time. Dr. Olivardia also suggests practicing mindfulness while eating and observing how full you feel.

Although some people may have a tougher time managing healthy eating, practicing these strategies, along with seeing a doctor who specializes in treating ADHD and eating disorders, can help you get a handle on binge eating.

Looking for more:

  • ADHD, Eating Disorders, and Weight Issues
  • Tips for Eating Healthy When Coping with ADHD
  • ADHD & Obesity: An Under-Recognized Problem
  • Watch: ADHD and Eating Disorders
  • Watch: Redefining Healthy Eating and Our Relationship with Food

Join the discussion: Have you found ADHD symptoms to get in the way of healthy eating?

ADHD and eating disorders, relationship between them, treatment

If you have ADHD, you are also at risk of developing eating behaviors. Find out why feelings of inadequacy can lead to eating problems and how therapy or medication can help you on your path to recovery. Approximately 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a major eating disorder at some point in their lives. Although such disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, have been well known for many years, their association with ADHD is relatively recent.



mental health

Psychology of Personality


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What are eating disorders, what they are, how they are associated with ADHD, what threatens patients, is it possible to cure them

Contents of the article

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

Bulimia nervosa

35-year-old David feels like the only thing that brings him relief amid the chaos of ADHD is food. On the way home from work, he makes several stops. During this time, and then also at home, he can order and eat four hamburgers, four servings of french fries, pizza, two bags of potato chips, two four-liter buckets of ice cream and a dozen cupcakes. Then he vomits. He vows to himself that he will never overeat and “cleanse” again, and this has been going on for ten years now.

Bulimia nervosa (NB) is a disease from the group of eating disorders. Characterized by recurring episodes of overeating. Overeating is defined as the uncontrolled ingestion of large amounts of food (compared to what most people eat) in a short period of time. Because of feelings of self-loathing and anxiety after overeating, NB sufferers compensate by artificially induced vomiting, use of laxatives, exhausting exercise, fasting, or use of diuretics to prevent weight gain. Binge eating disorder (CB) is characterized by episodes of overeating without gastric emptying, which is present in NB.


The main signs of bulimia nervosa are :

  • Constant overeating, which happens both objectively – a person really eats too much food at a time, and subjectively, when a person simply thinks that he overeats, although he ate very little. After eating, a person feels guilt, shame, anger, despair, but cannot stop. Overeating episodes happen at least twice a week.
  • Uncontrollable desire to eat
  • Fear of gaining weight, constant weight control, perception of being too fat (although this is not at all the case)
  • Getting rid of food eaten by various artificial methods – inducing vomiting, laxatives. Enemas

Only a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis, but many patients with bulimia do not go to the doctor, believing that it is “shameful”, they begin to look for online communities of bulimics and seek advice there. As a result, the disease progresses, which can lead to metabolic disorders and diseases of the internal organs.

Bulimia nervosa develops under the pressure of social factors, e.g.

  • Striving for the perfect figure
  • Bulimia can be cured, but it requires a specialist. Treatment should be comprehensive and include psychotherapy, antidepressants, and diet therapy.

    Anorexia nervosa

    Anorexia nervosa is also an eating disorder characterized by food restriction (sometimes to the point of starvation) resulting in low, unhealthy body weight. Patients are not just afraid to gain extra pounds, but try to lose the ones they already have. They have a distorted perception of their own body, they make great efforts to control their weight and not gain a single “extra” gram, which leads to negative health consequences. Most often, anorexia affects teenage girls and young women, but men also occur.

    Anxiety test

    The main signs of anorexia nervosa are :

    • Visually noticeable weight loss
    • Mood swings from euphoria to irritability and back again
    • 900 39 Sharp deterioration of skin, hair, nails

    • Sleep disorders
    • Weakness, fatigue, nervousness
    • Frequent vomiting after eating
    • Absence of menses in women

    Should be alert if a person:

    • Suddenly refuses food or performs rituals while eating
    • Refuses to eat in public or eats strange foods
    • Takes weight loss supplements or laxatives
    • Exercises too much no social contacts

    Only a psychotherapist can make a diagnosis, and not only the patient himself, but also his relatives can turn to him. If you suspect anorexia, you need to consult a doctor urgently, preferably at the first stage of the disease, when the patient is steadily losing weight. At the second stage, there is a loss of appetite, apathy, taking laxatives, vomiting after eating. The third stage is the most dangerous – chills and fainting begin, the body rejects food, and this can end very badly. Given that patients with anorexia nervosa usually deny the problem, you need to convince him to see a doctor, because anorexia develops very quickly.

    Risk factors :

    • Reluctance to grow up
    • Teenage conflicts
    • Codependent relationships
    • Stress
    • Low self-esteem
    • Lack of trust
    • Separation from loved ones
    • Social media influence

    Anorexia treatment as and the treatment of bulimia should be comprehensive, with the involvement of different specialists as necessary – an endocrinologist, a nutritionist, a gastroenterologist and others. The course of treatment includes psychotherapy, medications, diet therapy, physiotherapy. It is very dangerous to delay visiting a doctor.

    Having a breakdown

    Research has shown that people with ADHD are at greater risk of developing binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa than their non-ADHD peers. A 2007 Harvard Medical School study found that girls with ADHD were four times more likely to develop eating disorders than girls without ADHD. Another empirical study found that 11 percent of women with ADHD and only 1 percent of women without the syndrome reported a history of bulimia nervosa.

    Many people with ADHD have poor impulse control and difficulty regulating their emotions. This combination creates the right conditions for compulsive overeating. Hailey, 28, likens it to drug cravings. “Food is my heroin,” she says. It sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. No matter how hard I try to prevent overeating, it’s like driving over the same pothole every day where your tires blow out. I hate what overeating does to my weight. It makes me feel worthless, and it forces me to turn to food again. It’s a neurotic, violent relationship.”

    For people with bulimia nervosa, food is a self-medication for anxiety, stress, anger and boredom. Food stimulates and food fills the gap. People with ADHD who feel inadequate and incompetent turn to food as a source of comfort. Food becomes an unhealthy outlet in an attempt to take control of your life. Both people with CP and people with ADHD have difficulty understanding internal cues for satiety and hunger.

    Risk factors for developing AN are also higher for people with ADHD. Patients with ADHD and anorexia nervosa say that information about the right portions and healthy foods suppresses them. People with ADHD make all-or-nothing decisions. And although people with anorexia nervosa eat very little, they are obsessed with food. They read cookbooks and watch cooking shows. For people with ADHD, hyperfocus on food can be very appealing because it makes it easier for them to think about it.

    Tyra, 44, who was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa as a teenager, says, “Weight control is my only success. In my youth, I felt like a headless chicken. She was constantly depressed and did not have time to do anything. In those days, there was no support or recognition for ADHD. Everyone thought I was either not trying hard enough or just stupid. And I heard it for so long that I myself began to believe it.”

    Adolescents and young people with AN are often reported to be afraid of becoming adults and taking on adult responsibilities. Starvation is a manifestation of developmental delay. People with ADHD find it difficult to manage their careers, relationships, and money because of their executive function problems. By not giving the body enough food to prevent the body from maturing, they unconsciously express their desire to delay maturation.

    Possible treatment plan

    Eating disorders are complex. Treatment requires a whole team – usually a psychologist, nutritionist, therapist, psychiatrist, and, most often, a family therapist. When a person with an eating disorder also suffers from ADHD, it is vital to view their treatment through the lens of ADHD. Understanding how ADHD symptoms affect an eating disorder, and how it in turn affects ADHD symptoms, should be central to treatment. If you do not pay attention to ADHD, treatment will usually be ineffective. If the eating disorder specialist is not an expert in ADHD, invite an ADHD therapist to join the team.

    Patients with ADHD and an eating disorder are often considered “reluctant to get well” because ADHD is either undiagnosed or clinically underestimated. Patients with eating disorders are often ambivalent about treatment. They want to ease their suffering, but equate treatment with weight gain.

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the practical elimination of negative and distorted thought patterns and unhealthy behaviors. Structuring nutrition, building responsibility for healthy eating, and teaching alternative coping skills are important strategies.

    Traditionally, talking therapy helps, but only in combination with CBT. Eating disorder symptoms need to be dealt with directly. Talking about your childhood and how it affected the development of an eating disorder will not help if you overeat several times a day and then empty your stomach.

    Stimulants are the first line of treatment for ADHD symptoms, but they are not commonly used for certain eating disorders because they suppress appetite in patients. However, studies have shown that the use of stimulants in patients with ADHD and bulimia helps control urges, which can prevent overeating. Stimulants also help a person with ADHD and an eating disorder stick to their treatment plan. Only a doctor can prescribe drugs for treatment.

    In addition to stimulants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be effective in the treatment of NB. They improve mood, calm anxiety, and relieve obsessive-compulsive symptoms. No medication has been found effective in the treatment of anorexia nervosa. The use of stimulants for this purpose is controversial and requires careful evaluation. Stimulants may be useful provided they do not cause more weight loss in the patient.

    Eating disorders are a serious illness. Approximately 15 percent of men and women with eating disorders die from the disease, often due to cardiac arrest, or commit suicide. However, for ADHD patients with eating disorders, recovery is possible if the right team of specialists treats both at the same time. Your life is worth fighting for.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder associated with eating disorder

    May 5, 2015 about 16

    Kotikovich Yu.S.


    compulsive overeating,

    body weight,

    eating disorder,

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


    9 0002 Pediatrics

    Neurology and psychiatry


    Which in children is manifested in syndrome of loss of control over the amount of food eaten

    In a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, concluded that children with the syndrome Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are more likely than their healthy peers to have loss of control over what they eat, a condition similar to compulsive eating disorder. The researchers suggested that both conditions have similar etiological and pathogenetic mechanisms, and therefore treatment for one of them can potentially reduce the manifestation of the other.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that in 2011, 6.4 million (11%) of US children aged 4-17 were diagnosed with ADHD. Their behavior was characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity, difficulties in maintaining a sufficient level of attention were noted. It is known that in adults ADHD is often associated with compulsive eating disorder. But data on the presence of such a relationship in children is currently limited. Moreover, in childhood, they usually talk not about a compulsive disorder, but about a syndrome of loss of control over the amount of food eaten, which has similar diagnostic criteria and is characterized by the inability of the child to stop eating at a certain time. Despite the fact that the use of stimulant drugs aimed at the treatment of ADHD in many children often led to a decrease in body weight, experts found a correlation between this neurological-behavioral disorder and overweight. Experts believe that the impulsivity inherent in this syndrome, which manifests itself in the form of loss of control over food intake, may be the cause of extra pounds in children with ADHD.

    For this study, researchers led by Dr. Shauna Reinblatt used tests, interviews, and parent reports to evaluate 79 children aged 8-14 years to determine whether they had ADHD or signs of loss of control over what they ate. In addition, the participants were asked to undergo neuropsychological tests to determine their ability to control any impulsive impulses.

    Scientists have found that children with ADHD are 12 times more likely than their healthy peers to have a loss of control over the amount of food they eat. On the other hand, overweight children with food control disorders were 7 times more likely to have ADHD symptoms than other participants with overweight, but without or with impaired control, but with normal body weight. In addition, the researchers noted that according to the results of neuropsychological testing, the less the child was inclined to restrain his impulsive desires, the higher he was at risk of developing a syndrome of loss of control over the amount of food eaten.

    The results indicate a relationship between ADHD and eating disinhibition, but there are a number of factors that can explain this. It is possible that the risk of developing both conditions increases with the presence of certain genetic variants that determine the tendency to impulsive behavior. In addition, the combination of ADHD and food control disorder indicates a high level of impulsivity, which has a significant impact on the nature of the diet and can exacerbate these conditions. Scientists noted that at present it is difficult to unambiguously answer the question about the nature of the relationship of the studied pathologies, however, they advise clinicians to try to restrain the disinhibition of eating behavior in children until additional work is carried out.

      • McIntosh J. (2015) Children with ADHD more likely to have eating disorder. Medical News Today, April 29 (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/293236.php).
      • Reinblatt S.