Reasons why you overeat
Let’s get the obvious reason you overeat out of the way: Food tastes really good. And some of it tastes really, really good. Too good to go to waste. The truth, though, is that everyone likes food, yet some people struggle to find their stopping point more than others.
It’s hard, believe me I totally understand. There’s one particular client that comes to my workout sessions and always says the same thing, ‘I like food too much!’. She has a particularly bad habit of eating pounded yam for breakfast and admitted to needing help.
Being aware of the reasons you might overeat can help you identify the behaviors that are holding you back from the results you want.
You Use Food as a Reward (Too Often)
Food is more than just calories, it’s part of your culture and your experiences, and it’s also a great reward. And that’s all good. But it’s easy to make rewarding yourself with food a regular habit, rather than a special event.
Ever had a hard day at work and say, “I deserve a glass of wine”, and then proceed to drink the whole bottle? And have you ever done that more than once in a week? You need to be realistic about the caloric cost of using food as a frequent reward. Start noting all the places that you allow high-calorie meals or binge-drinking to creep in because you “deserve it.” If it’s once a day, or even once every two or three days, you’ve identified a key area where you need to adjust your mindset.
You Frequently Say, ‘What the Hell!’
See if this sounds familiar. You eat a piece of fried chicken for a snack, and immediately grab another. You hesitate, but then think, ‘What the hell, I’ve already blown my diet. I might as well eat the rest!’ (Researchers literally call this the “what the hell effect.”)
Try to keep a logical perspective: Having an extra piece or two of chicken isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of your diet. You can just eat a little less later in the day, or adjust your diet a little tomorrow. Just remember that there’s a big difference between eating 300 extra calories of fried food versus 1,000 or more.
You’re Too Tough on Yourself
The worst things you can do are beat yourself up when you eat junk food, or feel bad if the scale isn’t moving. Shame can drastically damage your weight loss efforts.
For example, in one particular study, researchers rigged scales to make dieters think they had gained 5 pounds even though the participants had actually lost weight. Those who felt greater shame about their weight gain subsequently ate more ice cream than those who weren’t as bothered by their results.
The bottom line: If you eat too much of a food that you really didn’t want to eat, don’t beat yourself up. Vow to do better the next time and move on.
You Eat Out Too Much
Restaurants entice customers by offering bigger meals, and unfortunately, many of us are conditioned to clean our plates instead of listening to our bodies. Some restaurants abroad have started displaying nutrition guides online, do a little reseach and determine what’s appropriate. At some, you can often request a “half order.” If you’re going to a more upscale establishment, simply plan ahead strategically so that you can allocate more calories for the meal, guilt-free.
How often do you just eat, without watching TV, scrolling through Instagram, or working at your desk? Multitasking lessens your body’s ability to sense the amount of food you are eating and thus how full it should make you. In fact, eating while you watch a screen of any kind leads to consuming more food and a reduced ability to remember how much you ate.
Engage in eating as its own activity, and be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth.
You’re Really Tired
Lack of sleep and the ensuing fatigue has major implications on your ability to control overeating. Being tired actually saps your willpower. Not getting enough sleep can cause people to eat up to 5 percent more calories per day, primarily after dinner. Fatigue also increases stress, another driver of willpower depletion.
Focus on getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to help strengthen your dietary resolve and curb overeating. And for best results, try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, so that you aren’t as inclined to oversleep on the weekends. People who sleep later than normal on Saturday and Sunday have greater levels of fatigue on Monday and Tuesday than those who rise at their regular time.
The key is to really apply yourself to being mindful of what you eat, how live and even how you interact with people. Be aware that there is little you do in life as frequently as eating, consider it medicine for your body. As the saying goes, ‘you are what you eat’, literally.