Written by Amy Morton on June 16, 2023
Have you ever wondered how dieting can impact your mood, self-esteem, and even lead to unhealthy eating patterns? Let's delve into the fascinating world of tryptophan depletion and its effects on your brain.

Tryptophan and Serotonin
Tryptophan, an amino acid found in certain foods, plays a crucial role in the production of serotonin, a key mood-regulating chemical in the brain. Unfortunately, when you embark on a diet, your intake of tryptophan-rich foods decreases, putting you at risk of depleting serotonin levels. Shockingly, studies reveal that within just seven hours of tryptophan depletion, serotonin levels can plummet.

The Vicious Cycle of Dieting and Low Serotonin
Imagine this: as you diligently restrict your food intake, your serotonin-dependent self-esteem takes a nosedive, regardless of your actual accomplishments. It's a vicious cycle, as decreasing serotonin levels can fuel feelings of low self-worth, leading to more stringent dieting. Tragically, those seeking self-acceptance through extreme dieting may never find it. Starving the brain only exacerbates self-criticism, making it impossible to reach a point where thinness satisfies their longing. This unfortunate side effect is experienced by countless dieters worldwide.

Obsessive Thoughts and Anorexia
But that's not all. Tryptophan deficiency-induced serotonin drop can trigger obsessive thoughts and behaviors that are difficult to control. Imagine being caught in a relentless loop of calorie counting, self-deprecation, and the persistent pursuit of an idealized body. As your serotonin levels dwindle further due to reduced food intake, this obsession with undereating intensifies, paving the way for potential development of anorexia.

Control becomes a focal point for those battling anorexia, and while psychological factors may contribute, a low-serotonin brain lacks the necessary tools to address them. Remarkably, numerous international studies have suggested that anorexia may stem from a genetic mood disorder related to serotonin deficiency rather than solely being a psychological condition.

Compulsive Overeating and Bulimia
Now, let's turn our attention to the complex relationship between tryptophan, serotonin, compulsive overeating, and bulimia. Strangely enough, some dieters with depleted serotonin levels experience increased appetites instead of losing interest in food. These individuals may find themselves engulfed in evening cravings, particularly during winter or PMS periods when serotonin levels are naturally low for everyone. In these vulnerable moments, binging on sweets and starches can become all-consuming.

The Role of Tryptophan and Serotonin in Bulimia
Scientific studies have shown that when bulimics are deprived of tryptophan, their serotonin levels drop, leading to more severe bingeing and purging episodes. Conversely, adding extra tryptophan to their diet has been found to reduce binges and mood disturbances by boosting serotonin levels. Even more remarkable is the research indicating that years into recovery, bulimics can experience a resurgence of cravings and mood issues within a few hours of tryptophan depletion. This highlights the significant role chronic tryptophan depletion may play in the development of eating disorders among vulnerable individuals.

Implications for Compulsive Eaters
It's worth noting that the effects of dieting extend beyond bulimics. Compulsive eaters, even those who don't engage in purging, can also experience the same intense cravings and self-loathing when their serotonin levels plummet due to restrictive eating practices.
As we explore the consequences of depleting just one essential nutrient, tryptophan, and its impact on serotonin, it becomes evident how easily a seemingly innocent diet can spiral into an eating disorder.

If you are struggling with binge eating, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available at The Binge Eating Recovery Coach. Here, you can find a program that is tailored to your biochemical needs and can provide the support and guidance you need to overcome binge eating. Don't wait any longer, take the first step towards recovery today by watching our case study testimonial videos and learning from those who have successfully overcame these issues. Together, we can break the cycle of food addiction and reclaim our lives. Get the free case study video training here.

Abraham SF. Dieting, body weight, body image and self-esteem in young women: doctors' dilemmas. Med J Aust. 2003 Jun 16;178(12):607-11. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05382.x. PMID: 12797845.

Díaz-Marsa M, Lozano C, Herranz AS, Asensio-Vegas MJ, Martín O, Revert L, Saiz-Ruiz J, Carrasco JL. [Acute tryptophan depletion in eating disorders] [Article in Spanish]. Actas Esp Psiquiatr. 2006 Nov-Dec;34(6):397-402. PMID: 17117337.

Leibowitz SF. The role of serotonin in eating disorders. Drugs. 1990;39 Suppl 3:33-48. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199000393-00005. PMID: 2197074.

Amy - The Binge Eating Recovery Coach

Amy specializes in supporting women in overcoming binge eating and associated challenges such as food cravings, obsessive thoughts, emotional eating, mood swings, and weight gain. Through her unique holistic and biochemical approach, Amy guides her clients in repairing addictive brain chemistry using natural methods. By addressing the root cause, Amy's methods offer a pathway to attain permanent freedom from binge eating.
FB Comments Will Be Here (placeholder)
©2023 thebingeeatingrecoverycoach.com

Powered By ClickFunnels.com