Friday, October 19, 2012

What makes us overeat?

I'd like to advertise my father-in-law's blog which discusses the above question. He is a professional psychologist helping people overcome eating problems and is in the process of writing a book about emotional eating disorders (when people over-eat to overcome an emotional struggle).

The blog is interesting not only to those who may have such a problem, but also to those who are interested in the question of motivation, willpower, and self-control. At the center of his ideas is the hypothesis about emotional eating and loss of self-control. One school of thought looks at self-control as a 'mental muscle' which gets tired after too much exercise (hence the slips in self-control). He looks at a loss of self-control differently: in his opinion, it is not a loss at all, but rather an attempt for someone to regain control over his life (or at least demonstrate to himself that he is control) when he feels that he is losing it.

So, for instance, if your boss makes you do a project you hate, your wife makes you wash the dishes when you want to watch a game on TV, and your kids force you to take them to a park, you may have an urge to demonstrate to yourself that you're in control of your life by doing something forbidden -- something you know you're not supposed to do. Emotional overeating is one such behavior.

If you're interested, read When Willpower is Not Enough.

More on the topic of self-control, as it pertains to my thoughts on economics and politics:
Time Preference and the Wealth (or Poverty) of Nations

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