Reasons for Overeating: What Are the Roots of the Problem?
Today, humanity consumes 1.5 times more food than half a century ago. Thanks to the efforts of marketing, food surrounds us everywhere. Billboards, television, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants constantly remind us: “Time to have a bite!”
During the evolution of our species, a human’s main task was to survive. In ancient times, people had to work hard in order to get something to eat: hunt animals, collect fruits, berries, roots. All these required a lot of effort and skill. Now, all you have to do is go to the nearest restaurant, supermarket or just open the fridge. In primitive society, people ate so as not to die from hunger but in our time, we eat most often just because we like the taste of a product or because there is nothing more interesting to do.
The Most Common Reasons for Overeating
People often think that they are fat because of genetics, stress and other reasons they can’t help, but not because they are eating too much. However, if you calculate how much you’re really consuming during the day, it becomes obvious how those extra pounds are appearing.
How can you stop? At first, you need to understand why you overeat. The most common reasons are:
Boredom or Idleness
When you are inactive (watching TV or waiting for a meeting, etc.), your thoughts somehow switch to food. Not that there’s anything weird about that, because eating is one of the simplest ways to enjoy yourself.
If in the first case food is a way to kill time, in this situation food, on the contrary, helps delay action. For example, you are working at home and have a challenging task awaiting you that you’re not looking forward to. Consequently, you take numerous breaks and, of course, the best reason for a break is having a snack. The main motive isn’t a desire to eat, but a reluctance to deal with a task.
Loneliness and Stress
Whenever we are alone, when we experience stress, when we are absorbed in solving problems or just tired, it can be difficult to relax. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol constantly keep the body in an excited and anxious state. Naturally, a person instinctively tries to fill their inner emptiness or to take the pressure off themselves. The easiest way to do it is to replace negative emotions and a lack of companionship with eating. The fact is that while eating, endorphins, which are hormones that reduce the feeling of pain and loss, are produced in the brain.
There is no secret that the food is the best antidepressant for many people. Longing, depression, excitement, joy, anger are frequent companions of overeating. 95% of serotonin, so called the happiness hormone, is localized in the intestine. Therefore, people feel cravings for food that is rich in carbohydrates because it promotes the production of this hormone and, as a result, improves their mood.
Sexual problems include not only the lack of a partner, but dissatisfaction with existing relationships, pain, unrealized fantasies, etc. If our needs are not satisfied in sex, we try to find different ways of cheering up, and once again, food comes to the rescue. Unfortunately, this joy is short-lived.
Our life consists of small losses and victories. We really need to reward ourselves from time to time. Unfortunately, we often choose something sweet or fatty as a prize. It sounds paradoxical, but those who had a great day at the gym or ran a few extra kilometers are the first candidates for celebrating and overeating.
Eating with Company
Sometimes we meet someone who is eating and end up joining them, even if we are not hungry. Moreover, when we eat with company, we consume on average 44% more food than we do when dining alone.
Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep lowers the levels of the hormone that is responsible for inhabiting hunger (leptin) and increases the levels of the “hunger hormone” that is responsible for appetite (ghrelin).
How to Cope with Overeating
As you can see, the list of the most typical reasons for overeating is not long. To solve the problem, you need to analyze your behavior and figure out what exactly you are trying to replace by eating. One of the methods of the analysis is making notes about the meals and snacks you have during a day. If this is a meal or a snack you didn’t plan, note why you decided to have it. If you notice that you tend to overeat even without an obvious reason, try to limit yourself with a portion control method.
All in all, you should remember that overeating is more of a psychological symptom than a physiological problem. Once you detect your unmet needs, your next task is to find a healthy and useful way to satisfy them.