Maybe you gulp down an entire bag of crisps in front of the TV or a big tub of ice cream when you're feeling sad. And you've probably wondered at some point: “But why am I eating too much like this?”
Well it's true, it is sometimes quite normal to eat a little too much, for example during an exceptional event with family or friends. We are not going to feel guilty every time! However, if it's a habit, it can harm your health, cause you to gain a lot of weight, and trigger feelings of guilt and regret. Nothing very pleasant...
Let's try to determine the reason for this problem and the ways to change it once and for all.
Table of Contents
- Why am I eating too much?
- 1. I eat a lot without thinking about it
- 2. Why I eat too much when I'm stressed
- 3. I eat a lot emotionally
- 4. I eat too many processed foods
- 5. Why I eat too much because of the drink
- 6. I eat a lot despite a restrictive diet
Why am I eating too much?
Unfortunately, there is no single cause for this problem. According to Malina Malkani, a recognized dietitian and nutritionist, "the reasons for overeating are unique to the individual."
This specialist explains that to break the cycle “I eat too much”, you must determine your own triggers. And the best way to do that is to use a food diary. It's a proven tool for helping people learn to identify when they're really hungry and their satiety cues.
According to a 20 minute newspaper article, it is better to write down everything you consume at the time you do so. I also recommend that you note the time at which you do it to help you determine what you need to change in your eating habits. If possible, also write down how you feel before, during and after.
Personally, I used the free app FatSecret which I find very effective. It takes a bit of practice, but you'll learn many things, such as how many calories you got from a food you thought was "healthy."
As recommended in my weight loss program”I learn to eat to lose weight", try note your hunger pangs on a scale of 1 to 10 before each meal or snack. Then try to rate how you feel 20 minutes after you start eating.
A note on binge eating
Overeating and binge eating are two related but very different things. I want to clarify that this article is not for those who suffer from bulimia, because it is a pathology that requires the intervention of a specialist in eating disorders.
According to the website health passport, eating disorders are considered “abnormal” because they are different from usual eating practices and have negative repercussions on the physical and mental health of the individual.
So let’s go back to “classic” overeating and look at the 6 most common causes:
1. I eat a lot without thinking about it
We often eat too much because we are distracted, usually by smartphone or television during the meal. Our food should be conscious, but it is no longer in our modern world.
An August 2020 study that appeared on Science Direct uses an apt phrase: "Ingested, but not perceived." In other words, you can swallow too many calories without even realizing it. This is particularly the case if you drink sugary or alcoholic drinks as you will see later.
What you need to remember here is that when you do something that occupies your mind too much, you can't track what you eat. Just being more attentive can be enough to put the brakes on your habit of overeating.
The more you pay attention to the taste, smell, texture and feel of what you are tasting, the less you eat. This is what I call “mindful eating” in my weight loss program. You will be surprised at the pleasure you will take while consuming fewer calories 😉
2. Why I eat too much when I'm stressed
A 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38 % of adults are overfed or choose unhealthy foods because of stress. Levels of cortisol, a hormone, rise when one feels stressed and one's appetite increases correspondingly. It also makes you more likely to crave sugary or fatty foods.
For many, stress is unavoidable, but mitigating its effects is vital for long-term health. The good stress reduction techniques include regular exercise, meditation, and seeking support from friends and family.
Studies further show that when one restricts oneself excessively, one becomes more likely to feel deprived and therefore pounce on food. This phenomenon is also one of the reasons for the failure of many diets that are too restrictive in the long term.
3. I eat a lot emotionally
This habit is quite similar to the previous one, but for different reasons.
Maybe you overeat when you feel lonely, sad, angry, or even happy. It's a real problem when it's your only strategy when dealing with strong emotions. In fact, you won't find never enough food faced with a situation. The problem is that it doesn't change your feelings, it just pushes you to eat.
You need to find a non-food solution instead. Why not go for a walk, exercise, meditate, write, call a friend or spend time in nature? Sometimes you have to ask a psychologist for help to reverse your pattern of thought and action. You will also find excellent natural products in herbal medicine to help you manage your emotions on the site phytonut.
But whatever you do, eating is never the right solution in the face of strong emotions.
4. I eat too many processed foods
Heavily processed foods are rich in carbohydrates of poor quality and digested quickly. This phenomenon leads to a spike in blood sugar immediately afterwards. And who says increase in blood sugar says mass production of insulin to turn it into body fat. Worse still, this insulin production will cause low blood sugar and therefore make you hungry within 2 hours of eating.
Additionally, scientists believe that sugary foods have the same effect on dopamine receptors in the brain as opioids. That's why the food industries spend millions to make you want to eat more, as an NCBI study in the United States shows.
How to correct this problem? Switch to rich alternatives protein, healthy fats and fiber. These foods provide a more stable and long-lasting source of energy. You will therefore naturally be less hungry.
5. Why I eat too much because of the drink
In fact, when someone says "I eat a lot !" he seldom thinks about what he is drinking. But you know all the bad things I think about sodas, cocktails and sugary drinks in general, including fruit juices, if you are used to reading my articles. These are empty calories, and our body does not even know how to recognize them.
You have to understand that if you drink a 33 cl soda containing 140 calories, you will not feel them go by and will not reduce the meal that accompanies it. This means that one sugary drink per day will represent approximately 7 pounds more on your balance at the end of the year. And all this without having eaten a single peanut!
As for alcohols in general, do not throw everything away because some seem to have virtues like red wine or whiskey. But that's true only if you stay moderate.
Indeed, consuming too much alcohol or too often lowers your inhibitions and pushes you to consume unhealthy foods as appetizers. Without forgetting that we should swallow fewer calories after an aperitif and that this is rarely the case...
6. I eat a lot despite a restrictive diet
You may be surprised to read that following a strict diet leads to overeating. But it's true in the long run. Statistics indicate that 85 % people who dieted weigh the same or more a year later!
Overly restricting food can cause your blood sugar levels to plummet, making you more likely to binge on anything. I am however a follower of intermittent fasting for losing weight, but not by doing anything.
For my part, I support the 16/8 formula very well by having my last meal in the evening and the following one around 1 p.m. the next day. In fact, I only have to have a coffee without sugar in the morning. But I can't do it on the days when I do a weight training session at noon.
And anyway, I strongly advise against multi-day fasts or even restrictions beyond 16 hours at a time because low sugar levels make people weaker and more aggressive.
Correct your eating habits
In fact, it is better develop a routine around meals and snacks. The more your body and brain get used to relatively stable hours, the less likely you are to feel hungry and compensate by overeating.
If you're dying to grab something moderately healthy, follow the advice of Malina Malkani, the dietitian mentioned above. She says to take a small amount of whatever makes you crave, then move on to a healthier food. This will prevent you from over-restricting yourself while decreasing the risk of consuming too many calories.
I take this opportunity to add 2 important tips to reduce the risk of overconsumption of food:
- drink one large glass of water before swallowing solids because the body often confuses hunger with thirst;
- Take the time to enjoy what you want, because it's a way to give your brain time to experience the pleasure associated with this food. We always eat a lot more when we swallow food without appreciating it, like when we are watching TV.
The other problem with strict diets?
They create guilt and shame around food. If you consider all foods good and part of a healthy diet, you won't have so much stress around food. Then you will be able to be more mindful in your approach to meals and snacks.
Learn to pay attention to your hunger signals. Eat when you're really hungry and stop when you're full. Accept that your body has a healthy weight that is perfect for you, and not necessarily the one imposed on you by the media.
It is for this purpose that I created the program to lose weight quickly called “I learn to eat to lose weight”. It doesn't tell you what to eat, but it does help you understand what makes you fat and what promotes fat loss. That way you become totally independent of the weight loss diets that you are pressured to buy.
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