Whatever the emotion—sad, happy emotional, do you constantly turn to food for comfort? Well, your body uses hunger as a natural signal that it needs food. However, you’re more prone to overeat if your body is constantly asking for food and you feel hungry all the time. Overeating is a problem, ladies! Most people occasionally overeat, but for some, excessive overeating that feels uncontrollable can develop into a binge eating disorder. You must be aware of the triggers in order to manage it. So, read the causes of overeating!
Health Shots reached out to Malika Singh, Certified Integrative Nutrition and Health coach, to understand the causes of overeating.
Causes of overeating
Singh says “Hunger, as you may have experienced, is just one of the many reasons we eat, as food is as much a social and emotional need as it is a physiological need for our body. More often than not, it’s a combination of factors that get us to binge and overeat repeatedly.”
Let’s take a closer look at these 9 more prominent reasons behind overeating!
1. Emotional eating
Stop trying to fill the void inside you with food! If only emotional eating could help you fix the root cause, but it appears that it simply makes things worse. Food may provide temporary relief, but the chances of feeling guilty, overindulgent, and nearly sick afterwards are significant. Instead learn healthy ways to deal with emotions, conquer cravings and avoid triggers, which are long-lasting ways to navigate emotional eating.
2. Nutritional deficiencies
Unwanted hunger, which occasionally leads to overeating, can be caused by a variety of factors. Yet, one of the primary causes is a dietary deficit, specifically a lack of protein. Not only this, a lack of certain micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants might drive you to crave everything from cheese to chocolate and fries. To avoid overeating, make sure your diet has all of the essential nutrients.
3. Eating out of boredom
When we are bored, our brains aren’t stimulated and our dopamine; a neurotransmitter in our brain that is closely linked to feelings of reward and pleasure, is very low. This triggers us to act it out and food is an intrinsic response as it’s comforting, and satiating and gives us a safety net or a sense of reward. So the next time boredom knocks at your doorstep, just say, ‘Dear stomach, you are not hungry, just bored. So please zip up!’ And try to find alternative ways to reward yourself like a walk outdoors, a chat with a friend or even just tuning into some music!
4. You’ve drunk too much
Alcohol has been shown to increase appetite. While one or two drinks may not have a significant impact, after a few drinks, you are more likely to seek salty or fatty snacks, which can contribute to overeating. Cutting back on or reducing the number of glasses you drink may help avoid overeating.
5. Stress eating
Our hormones are directly linked to our appetite, when we are stressed, our cortisol level rises, and so does our appetite. It also makes us more likely to pick fatty, rich, and calorie-dense food choices. Stress eating is sometimes unavoidable, but knowing how to put a lid on it, is key to maintaining long-term health. Stress reduction techniques, like breathwork, indulging in a hobby, or seeking support from friends and family are most handy at times like this.
6. Hormonal imbalance
A well-balanced diet helps your body to function well. But, if you don’t get enough nutrition, your body produces the hunger hormone ghrelin. It indicates that your body needs nutrition, and when it doesn’t get it, you feel hungry, which can lead to overeating. The hormonal imbalance that can lead to overeating can happen also around your menstrual cycle.
Also read: 6 ways overeating can adversely affect your health
7. Stringent diets
Strict diets and food elimination can be exhausting for the body and the mind. People often experience diet fatigue and feel deprived of their favourite foods. That’s when all roads lead to big heavy-calorie intensive meals that often have you overeating. A flexible diet plan that’s gentle on the body and mind is not only more sustainable but also serves you all the macro and micronutrients you need to thrive emotionally, socially, physically, and mentally.
8. Mindless eating
According to a study published in Appetite in August 2020, people tend to eat mindlessly when they are engaged in any activity that makes it difficult for them to keep track of their intake. People are more aware of their food choices and less likely to overeat when they are less active. Hence, when it comes to eating, focus solely on your meal.
9. Social facilitation
Do you feel that you tend to overeat when out, and in social settings? Well, you’re not alone! Humans are social beings and what better way to bond than over food and conversations? However, there are a few simple tips to help you avoid packing on the pounds and ending the night feeling as if you’ve eaten for two! Snack on a mini meal before you head out. Even if it’s to your favourite place, eat a protein-rich snack before you step out. Hydrate all through the evening, especially if consuming alcohol. Tune into the subtle clues of your body to know when you are sufficiently full. Enjoy the evening and the conversation as much as your meal.
Remember, you are what you eat! So, pay attention to your diet and follow healthy habits.