Overeating is very common, and yes, most people overeat occasionally. Some triggers for overeating are obvious, such as being around food that you love, going to anything all-you-can-eat or certain holidays (think Thanksgiving). The following are some overeating triggers that you may not have thought of, but probably should.
Overeating Cause #1 – You are thirsty
Have you ever craved ice cream, popsicles or those frozen Jugo Juices? Chances are you were actually thirsty! The brain confuses thirst for hunger and you wind up overeating when a glass of water would have nipped your ‘hunger’ in the butt. Always carry a water bottle with you and sip it throughout the day. Another trick is to make an effort to drink at least one cup of water with meals and a cup before!
Overeating Cause #2 – You are distracted
Eating in front of the computer, TV, in the car, or while reading a book are all things we love to do. But the stomach signals that tell you that you are full does not work if you eat while distracted. Studies have shown that you can easily take in hundreds of extra calories simply by not paying attention. To avoid this pitfall, practice mindful eating. Turn off any distractions around you, sit quietly, and focus on all the aspects of your meal when you eat.
Overeating Cause #3 – You are tired
Ever noticed that you are ravenous the day after you didn’t sleep well? You’re not alone. Missing even a single night of sleep can really wreak havoc on the way your appetite hormones work. Make sure you are getting six to eight hours of sleep a night. Start by turning down lights and powering down your electronics about an hour before bed. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and prepare for occasions when this may be challenging.
Overeating Cause #4 – You crushed your workout
Do you ever go to boot camp or the gym, and then eat more after when you get home because you think you deserve it or your body needs it too recover? There are many who do this that the behaviour actually has a name: the Licensing Effect. That basically means that you treat yourself with food because you think you deserve it after working hard. Another time this behaviour is seen: people who reward themselves with candy while studying or doing some unpleasant task. The truth is you don’t need to eat a burrito or candy just because you went hard at the gym. Try portioning out a meal before you go to the gym and stick to it. Reward yourself with a new gym outfit instead!
Overeating Cause #5 – The food is in arm’s reach or in plain sight
Putting the wrong foods in easily-seen, easily-reached places is one definite way to cause overeating. Ever heard of ‘out of sight, out of mind?’ well, you can’t eat the things you don’t have, and you’re less likely to eat them if they aren’t right in front of you. Try steering clear of the staff room if you know there are less healthy treats, positioning yourself away from the food table at parties, and not stashing treats in your desk at work. Instead, place bowls of veggies out on the counter and ditch the display of unhealthy snacks.
Overeating Cause #6 – Not enough protein and fibre
It’s common knowledge that fibre and protein are important for healthy, permanent weight loss. The truth is if you aren’t getting enough, you at risk for overeating. They keep you feeling satisfied because they take longer to digest. You should never have your meal without adequate protein and fibre.
Lack of knowledge may be a factor in overeating. Many people are not aware that they are consuming more calories than they realize because they either don’t know what the correct portion size is, are trying to eyeball the portion or don’t know how many calories they need to eat each day. For instance, did you know a serving of most granola is just ¼ cup? Many people serve themselves way more than that. Make sure you read the labels of products or look up servings sizes and try to actually measure out the portion specified. Tracking your food for the day is another effective tool to keep track on your calories. Download the Body Beautiful mobile app to get access to the latest version of our food tracker.
Overeating Cause #7 – You are 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. This will lead you to believe that you are still hungry when your body really just needs some time to tell your brain that you’re full. Slow down. It takes 20 minutes for the digestive system to report back to the brain that we’re full. Stop when feeling medium-full, then wait 20 minutes before reassessing your hunger levels.