4 Reasons Why You Overeat
If you find yourself eating at times when youre not even
hungry, youre not alone--almost 60 percent of Canadian adults
are now overweight or obese and overeating is the number one cause,
says Richard Béliveau, chair for cancer prevention and
treatment at the University of Quebec.
Forget about all the diets and the stupidity written about
sugar, fat and protein, he says. If you gain weight
its because youre eating too many calories compared
to what youre burning.
Sounds simple enough, yet many of us continue to consume more
calories than we need. Here are some reasons why you may be overeating
and solutions to help you overcome them.
1. Youre accustomed to overeating
People overeat out of habit, says Barbel Knauper, associate
professor at McGill Universitys Health Psychology Laboratory.
They ate slightly too much yesterday and the day before
and, probably for a long time, [they ate] a little too much every
Knauper says there are many reasons why people form an overeating
habit, including learning the behaviour from their families while
growing up. When youre used to overeating, you become comfortable
consuming more food than you need and the cycle continues.
Realize that overeating is a habit, something we repeat
every day unless we take action to change the habit once and for
all, says Knauper. By simply recognizing that youre
eating more than you need, you can take steps toward eating more
2. Youre unaware of your calorie intake
Lack of knowledge may be a factor in overeating,
Knauper says. Many people are not aware that they are consuming
more calories than they burn because they dont know how
many calories are burned during exercise, they arent aware
of how many calories are in the foods they eat and they dont
know how many calories they need to eat each day.
For instance, a bottle of Tropicana fruit punch contains 170
calories. Youd have to walk for more than 40 minutes just
to burn off a drink you may not have thought much about, says
While exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, being
aware of foods caloric content is the most effective way
to curb overeating. It takes a lot of exercising to compensate
for overeating, therefore [it] is usually not a successful weight-loss
strategy. Eating less is much easier for reaching a daily energy
balance, says Knauper.
Research the number of calories you need each day and take steps
to stay within that limit. Using a food journal to record your
calorie count will help you stay on track.
3. You find food comforting
Who hasnt reached for the Ben and Jerrys after a
bad day at work? And when youre feeling sorry for yourself
after a fight with your partner, it seems okay to finish off a
bag of stale chips because it makes you feel better.
Often we eat not because we are hungry but because we are
tired or depressed, says Béliveau.
However, we dont often crave a veggie platter when were
feeling low. Thats because eating sweet foods such as chocolate
causes your body release small amounts of feel-good hormones,
which can help lift your mood. And if youre someone who
cant seem to stop eating after one square of chocolate,
youre not alone.
Sugars are processed very rapidly by the digestive system
and create immediate reward responses or pleasure. This makes
people indulge in them. White sugar is the fastest processed sugar,
Realize that the high you get from eating sweet or
high-fat foods isnt a long-term solution and will soon be
followed by an energy low.
But that doesnt mean you should cut treats out of your
diet completely. If you go to a restaurant where the French
fries or chocolate cake is good, eat them, but view it as a celebration,
Béliveau advises. Associating your comfort foods with positive
events rather than feelings of sadness and guilt will help you
control the quality and quantity of sweets and high-fat foods
4. Youre eating too fast
Remember when your mother told you to chew your food slowly?
Well, it turns out that she was right. Eating fast does
not allow your brain to react to the satiety signal coming from
your body, says Béliveau. This will lead you to believe
that you are still hungry when your body really just needs some
time to tell your brain that youre full.
Slow down. It takes 20 minutes for the digestive system to report
back to the brain that were full, says Knauper. We
need to stop when feeling medium-full, she recommends. Even
if you still feel a little hungry at the end of the meal, keep
in mind that the sensation of satiety will come with a little
delay, so it's not necessary to take a second helping.
Reference Sources besthealthmag.ca
November 30, 2009