Eating habits and self control

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Self-control enables people to impede or adjust their inner reactions so as to avoid detrimental behavior such as binge eating. Self-control describes one’s ability to desist from impetuous actions that are damaging to him/her. It is a major determinant of health behavior for people of all ages. Furthermore, self-control is majorly a consequence of the type of upbringing that children get. Adolescents with a high self-control tend to have healthier lifestyles as compared to those who have low self-control.

Unhealthy energy snacks are readily available in industrialized countries today. The unhealthy attractive snacks are obtainable from both food and non-food outlets which has greatly increased the rate of overeating in such countries (Allan, Johnston, and Campbell, 422). The ready accessibility of edible unhealthy foods has proven to be a challenge for people who are struggling to maintain a healthy way of life. This is because most times people will be torn between maintaining their healthy diets and indulging in the unhealthy snacks which are available in most places.

Instances where people are forced to choose either to resist the unhealthy foods or to indulge in them prove to be very challenging. There is major conflict between bodily impulses and self-restraint (Allan, Johnston, and Campbell, 422). The bodily impulses purpose at giving temporary fulfillment to the person in question. When a person’s conscious mind does not strongly challenge the impulses, he or she succumbs to the temptation of indulging in unhealthy food. Impulses in the body occur automatically as a result of human character. Thus, the impulses will succeed most of the time unless impeded by the conscious mindfulness of goals set in the mind.

In the war between self-control and impulses, the aftermath will depend on the strengths of each of the two. People having good control of themselves will tend to lean towards the path directed by self-control whereas those with poor control will lean towards the impulsive side (Allan, Johnston, and Campbell, 425). Accordingly, personal dissimilarities in the obtainability and power of cognitive control assets are highly associated with whether or not people decide to eat in a manner conforming to their food intents.

People having obesity attest to having failed to resist the enticement brought about by food. They also confirm having many challenges in controlling various aspects of their individual day to day lives (Cserjési et al., 535). It is evident from previous research that obesity is not only a weight controlling problem but also a tie to neurocognitive results. Obese children have been observed to exude more impulsive behavior, intellectual intransigence, poor cognitive control, and determination. Obese adults are perceived to have poorer cognitive control as compared to their healthy counterparts.

Prior study has also shed light on the connection between obesity and depression. Both obesity and depression share several similar symptoms such as sleep-related problems, variations in the desire for food and impaired food consumption (Cserjési et al., 535). Depression has also been proven to affect executive functions of the body. Cognitive impairments among obese people can majorly be blamed on the negative emotions such as depression which are prevalent among obese individuals.

From preceding investigation, obese individuals seem to have a problem in maintaining continuous attention and also suffer from intellectual intransigence. This observation applies to both obesity in children and adults (Cserjési et al., 537). Clinical studies have shown that depression has a tendency to weaken memory, cause insufficiencies in planning tasks and decline cognitive functions. Dieting has also been observed to cause a decrease in continuous concentration among obese individuals.

Eating food is a highly reinforced human behavior which may be controlled by rewards or omissions. Many obese people find it difficult to transform their current behaviors, show continuous attention and sustain good cognitive control (Cserjési et al., 538). This may be as a result of their lack of positive emotional state. Perceptive studies have reported that prompted positive temperaments assist information processing in the brain. This is important in cases where creativity and intellectual flexibility are essential.

Intellectual flexibility and innovative thinking are critical in the day to day lives of human beings. People need them in order to unravel individual difficulties and also to transform unhealthy ways of life (Cserjési et al., 538). Intellectual and innovative thinking enables people to think outside the box and thus find different solutions to the challenges they are facing. When obese people are required to concentrate and portray cognitive strength such as in the case of dieting, they tend to experience intellectual exhaustion. Intellectual exhaustion results in irritability, rage, frustration and even physical tiredness. This, in turn, further weakens the ability to perform cognitive tasks.

Contemporary research has shown that there are two groups of obese people. The first group are the emotional eaters and the others are the consistent obese people. Emotional eaters tend to increase their calorie intake when faced with challenging emotional experiences (Cserjési et al., 538). Binge eaters are an example of emotional eaters. Women who are obese and have trouble collaborating their emotions have a predisposition to eat in response to the feelings they experience. This occurs mostly when they are faced with negative feelings.

It has been reported that cognitive function is affected by various aspects of eating behaviors. As mentioned above, obesity has been observed to negatively affect decision-making functions (Cserjési et al., 538). Obesity leads to a decrease in continuous attention, lack of self-control and causes depression indicating that obesity is directly linked to cognitive abilities. Consequently, obesity can be treated together with other resultant problems which negatively affect cognitive abilities such as depression.

Eating is an extremely inspired and reinforced behavior that results in emotions of fulfillment. For that reason, overeating is all about making choices rather than a response to environmental prompts or biological pushes to provide nutrients to the body for human existence (Cserjési et al., 675). According to research done based on an animal prototype, overeating is described as an addiction to food, which is the drug in this case. Brain operation resemblances have been noted between drug addiction and obesity. People addicted to drugs portray an impairment in some cognitive functions especially tasks pertaining to decision-making. Obese adults have also been observed to depict lessened recollection performance.

Increasing childhood obesity is a topic of major concern not only because of adverse health effects but also because of the cognitive problems that occur as a consequence. Results from research indicate that obese children perform poorly in terms of intelligence and memory capacity as compared to their peers who are not obese (Cserjési et al., 677). The outcomes of the study also show that obese children have poorer attention endurance as compared to their counterparts who are normal weight. Obese children were observed to detect fewer symbols than controls in the time that they were allocated.

In relation to obese children’s poor performance on detection of symbols, two explanations were derived from the study. First, the concentration of obese children is lessened compared to controls explaining why the obese children could only identify fewer symbols within the time that was provided (Cserjési et al., 677). The second explanation took into consideration the longer motor response in obese children which results in prolonged reaction time. Thus, portraying that the obese children took a long time because they crossed out the symbols using the pen at a slower rate. From the above-mentioned information, it is evident that childhood obesity results in attention and endurance difficulties.

It is evident that eating habits are highly dependent on self-control. People with high self-control find it easier to resist urges to overeat or to indulge in unhealthy foods as compared to those with weaker self-control. Eating is a choice and not just a mere survival instinct. Thus, everyone has a will to choose either to eat healthy food, unhealthy food or even to overeat. What varies is the willpower to make the proper judgment when food presents temptation. It is also evident that quite a number of women and children overeat as a result of lack of self-control. This can be further aggravated by eating to avoid dealing with their emotions. Lack of self-control accompanied with other emotional problems makes one prone to overeating.

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  1. Allan, Julia L., Marie Johnston, and Neil Campbell. “Unintentional eating. What determines goal-incongruent chocolate consumption?” Appetite 54.2 (2010): 422-425.
  2. Cserjési, Renáta, Dénes Molnár, Olivier Luminet, and László Lénárd. “Is there any relationship between obesity and mental flexibility in children?” Appetite 49.3 (2007): 675-678.
  3. Cserjési, Renáta, Olivier Luminet, Anne-Sophie Poncelet, and László Lénárd. “Altered executive function in obesity. Exploration of the role of affective states on cognitive abilities.” Appetite 52.2 (2009): 535-539.
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