Dieting, purification, overeating, or excessive exercise can be behaviors that are difficult to change. The reason these unhealthy behaviors are so difficult to overcome is because they have become strong habits. As with the formation of any habit, it takes some time and energy to change these behaviors. By steadily working towards healthier goals, you can eventually replace bad habits with more positive habits.
How eating habits are formed
The neuroscience of habit formation is complex.In short, a habit is a behavior or series of behaviors that change from a behavior that requires attention and energy to a behavior that requires almost no attention—a kind of seemingly automatic.Humans often do things in pursuit of rewards; therefore, we often develop habits through repeated thinking and behavior for rewards.
At some point, the brain seems to choose to conserve energy-a bit like when a computer hard drive enters sleep mode-let us not use extra thinking energy on things that are already well practiced. As a result, it became a habit.
Think about how the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day started. When you are a child, you need to be very focused and focused to ensure that your molars, gums and other teeth are scrubbed. You may even have practiced a specific sequence or sequence of actions. The desired reward may be praise from the parent, a sense of accomplishment, or avoidance of punishment. The first few brushing actions may require more energy and attention than now.
This transition from deliberate to automatic habit occurs without consciousness. The same process can help explain the feeling of failed attempts to change dieting, binge eating, clearance, and compulsive exercise behavior.
Dieting means limiting calorie intake below the calories needed to maintain weight. When a person repeatedly follows specific food rules and behaviors, especially if the rules and behaviors are associated with perceived rewards (e.g., self-esteem, weight loss, health), then repeated choices and behaviors may become habits.
Once a habit is formed in the brain structure, the reward will disappear or stop, and this habit may continue to exist.In the case of dieting, weight loss may be slowed or stagnated. People may feel that they are not reaching the goals they set, or they may feel that they don’t look like they think they should.
This can have an impact on physical and mental health. The effects of these restrictions may include:
- Decline in social skills
- Feeling lack of energy
- Weak body
- Refeeding syndrome
- Mood changes
Despite these consequences, the dieting habit may continue because the brain is used to it.
Groundbreaking research has shown that anorexia nervosa is an extreme example of repeated food restriction. They seem to make food decisions from specific areas of the brain that are related to habits.Why is this important? The brain may actually guide a person with anorexia nervosa to eat habitual foods (for example, low-calorie and restrictive foods), even if the person wants a different diet.
Anorexia nervosa is a multifaceted, serious, and sometimes life-threatening disease; a component of its persistence may be due to the brain’s habit of choosing.
Binge eating habits
Any repeated practice may become a habit. Although compared with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and bulimia are less studied, they both involve bulimia, and bulimia may also become automatic or habitual.
Feelings of relief from experiencing emotions or “numbness”, dopamine release, and feelings of fullness or comfort are some examples of perceived initial rewards for overeating. Over time, repeated binge eating may develop into an unintentional habit.The habit of binge eating can lead to psychological struggles and medical consequences associated with increased body size.
There may also be other psychological consequences. Overeating can lead to feelings of embarrassment, which can lead to isolation. Feelings of guilt and disgust can also lead to psychological struggles.
It is important to be aware of binge eating caused by food restrictions, which can be confusing. Dieting and restriction can actually trigger binge eating, which usually occurs when a person does not eat enough and increases regularly.
Since food is the basic need for survival, long-term dieting (or dieting habits) will promote the cycle of overeating, which will change into a pattern and habit of repeatedly restricting food and then overeating.
Clear the habit
For bowel behaviors (those emptying behaviors, such as the use of vomiting, enema, diuretics, and laxatives), if there are repetitions, then the choice may be transformed into a habit. In addition, the perceived rewards that initially drive clearance behavior (for example, pursuit of weight loss, release of dopamine, relief from excessive satiety, etc.) may become more important than the automatic nature of the habit.
The final physiological response to clearance habits (behaviors common in bulimia nervosa) can range from subtle or uncomfortable to more severe, including:
- Swollen parotid gland
- Sore throat or hoarse voice
- Electrolyte imbalance
- heart attack
- Dental problems
- Vital organ damage
- sudden death
Overuse of laxatives can also cause the body to rely on them to defecate.
Exercise can be a compensatory behavior and habit, initially reinforced by perceived rewards (such as the desire to increase self-esteem, health, weight loss, strength, etc.). Although exercise is generally considered positive, it can become a problem when adherence to exercise habits becomes rigid or interferes with life.
For example, scheduling may lose flexibility, which may be seen as a personal or other person’s problem. This may be similar to any of the following:
- Skip important social activities because personally feel that they must exercise
- Stopped due to daily exercise or paid little attention to other important aspects of life
- Feeling forced to exercise when sick or injured
The consequences of problematic or excessive exercise can range from mild to severe, and are often related to a person’s habits, personal body, frequency, and intensity of activity and practice.
what to do
If you or your loved one is trying to change the habits of dieting, purification, overeating, or forced exercise, there are things that can help break these destructive habits.
Habits are difficult to change, but any repeated behavior may become a habit; this also applies to actions consistent with eating disorders and the healing and recovery of eating disorders. Rather than treating the attempt to achieve the desired change as “failure” or “never change”, it is better to realize that the habitual part of your brain can be very powerful.
Use your abilities to develop a good habit. Continue to practice new and more popular latent habits. For ideas on how to change behavior, learn more about delays and alternatives. Distracting yourself or engaging in other activities is one way to start changing your habits.
Remember it is not easy
This does not mean that creating new or breaking old habits—especially those related to eating disorders or eating disorders—is a simple task. On the contrary, when the brain hijacks choices and turns something into a habit, we are studying the powerful role of the brain, usually without human permission or awareness.
There are no hard and fast rules about how long it takes to form a new habit (for example, a habit that is consistent with the healing and recovery of eating disorders and eating disorders).
A study found that participants need 18 to 254 days to make new behaviors a habit.
Therefore, please be patient with yourself and understand that this will take time. This will not be a sudden change, but you will start to notice the longer you work towards your goal.
Anyone who engages in behaviors related to eating disorders is strongly encouraged to seek professional guidance for support, technology, safety, and supervision, while striving to break these difficult and sometimes dangerous habits. People’s bodies deal with stress in different ways, and seemingly benign dieting, detoxification, overeating, and exercise habits can have serious consequences for physical and mental health.
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Please note that eating disorders are a complex mental illness, usually with physical consequences, which cannot be simplified as a habit. Observing related behaviors through a habitual perspective is a way to better understand the automaticity of some eating disorder-related behaviors that are difficult for people to reduce or stop.