Whether we’re at home or out and about, there are many delicious food options and snacks available, making it easy to overeat.

If we’re not careful about how much food we’re eating, we can easily eat too much and experience negative health consequences.

Reasons We Overeat (And How to Stop!)

If you’ve been stress eating or can’t seem to control your cravings, it may be because you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re stressed, or you have demanding relatives. Hormones can also play a role in overeating.

You’re Surviving on Just Salads

Eating low calorie without protein means that you can end up feeling hungry later or being more likely to overeat at your next meal.” Expert dietitian, Rhoda Lucas explains that it’s great to include more cruciferous veggies and dark, leafy greens in your diet, but you could be doing it wrong if your salad mainly consists of greens without some more substantial, energy-providing carbohydrates or protein. Eating low calorie without protein can make you feel hungry later or more likely to overeat at your next meal.

Pringles and Skittles Are Lying on Your Counter

If you want to avoid overeating, don’t put tempting foods in places where they are easy to see and reach. “You are less likely to eat something if it isn’t right in front of you,” says Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh. ” instead, put bowls of fruits and vegetables where they are easy to see, and keep unhealthy snacks out of sight.” Pro-tip: Make sure the most unhealthy foods are not in your kitchen at all, so you won’t be tempted to overeat them.

You’re a Multitasking Master

According to Kimberly Gomer, RD, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, it’s best to avoid eating in front of the computer, TV, in the car, or while reading a book. This is because our stomachs have ‘stretch receptors’ which send a signal of satiety to our brain when we’re full. However, this signal doesn’t work if we’re eating while distracted. Studies have shown that we can easily take in hundreds of extra calories simply by not paying attention. To avoid this overeating pitfall, practice mindful eating by turning off any distractions around you, sitting quietly, and focusing on all the aspects of your meal.

You’re Not Sipping Enough H2O

“The brain confuses thirst for hunger and you wind up overeating when a glass of water would have nipped your ‘hunger’ in the bud,” advised, Rhoda Lucas APD. It’s easy to outsmart this sneaky but common source of hunger pangs, though: “Carry a water bottle with you and sip it throughout the day and make an effort to drink at least one cup of water with meals and a cup before!”

You’ve Got Food Fatigue

Hever says that because we make around 200 food choices every day, we can get tired by the end of the day. He suggests that meal planning is a good way to help manage what we eat overall.

You’re Noshing on Processed Foods

Many of us are eating food that is chemically engineered to make us think we’re still hungry after we’ve eaten it. “These types of foods are calorically dense but lack actual nutrition. So, you have to eat more and more of the food before your brain gets the message that you are full,” shares Lewis. “Additionally, these types of foods are heavily processed and filled with the specific additives, flavorings, and textures that keep you coming back for more and more. Instead, eat fruits and veggies first before you reach for the boxed and bagged stuff.”

Something is Driving You Next-level Insane

Hever suggests that people who are feeling stressed should try to manage their stress with techniques such as meditation, walking, or talking to a friend or therapist.

You’re Hitting the Gym Too Hard

For some people, pushing themselves too hard during a workout can actually make them hungrier afterwards. If this is the case for you, try adjusting your routine a bit to see what changes help to slash your appetite. For some people, this means working out with a bit less intensity but for a longer period of time. Others may find that stopping their interval workout 10 minutes earlier and continuing at a lower intensity works best. Keep challenging yourself, but also be sure to journal your results so you can identify what makes you hungrier and what doesn’t. Drinking plenty of fluids during your workout is also important, as dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger.

You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Do you ever feel extremely hungry the day after you don’t sleep well? Many people experience this. Research has shown that even just missing one night of sleep can negatively affect the hormones related to appetite. Therefore, it’s important to get six to eight hours of sleep every night. You can promote better sleep by dimming the lights and avoiding electronics an hour before bed. It’s also helpful to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and be mindful of hunger and fullness signals.

Harmful Effects of Overeating

The first step to conquering overeating is to understand how it affects your body.

May Promote Excess Body Fat

The difference between the number of calories you consume and the number you burn is what determines your daily calorie balance.

If you consume more calories than you use, your body will store the excess as fat.

If you over eat, you may develop obesity because you are taking in more calories than you need.

Eating too much protein is not likely to cause weight gain because the body metabolizes it differently than carbs and fats. Excess calories from carbs and fats are more likely to cause weight gain.

Try eating lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables before higher carb and higher fat foods to prevent excess fat gain.

May Disrupt Hunger Regulation

Two hormones that influence hunger are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin increases appetite while leptin suppresses it.

If you go a while without eating, your body produces more ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that signals to your body that it’s time to eat. Once you’ve started eating, your body produces leptin. Leptin is a hormone that signals to your body that you’re full and don’t need to eat anymore.

However, overeating may disrupt this balance.

Eating foods high in fat, salt, or sugar gives you a dopamine rush, which feels really good.

If you keep having pleasurable sensations while eating high-fat and high-calorie foods, your body may start to think that those sensations are linked to those foods. This can override the sensation of hunger and make you eat even when you’re not actually hungry.

If these hormones are not working properly, it may cause a person to keep overeating.

This can help avoid overeating and the consequent guilt. You can avoid overeating by portioning out certain feel-good foods and eating them at a slower pace to allow your body to register its fullness.

May Increase Disease Risk

While the occasional overeating likely doesn’t have a lasting effect on health, chronic overeating can lead to obesity. Obesity has been linked with an increased risk of many diseases.

Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index that is 30 or above, is one of the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that raises your chances of developing heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

Some indicators that a person has metabolic syndrome are high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

Chronic overeating is closely linked to insulin resistance. It develops when excess sugar in your blood reduces the ability of the hormone insulin to store blood sugar in your cells.

If insulin resistance is not controlled, it may lead to type 2 diabetes.

You can reduce your risk of these conditions by eating healthy, avoiding processed foods, and moderating portion sizes.

May Impair Brain Function

Over time, overeating may harm brain function.

Several studies have found that older adults who are obese or who overeat are more likely to have mental decline compared to those who don’t overeat.

The study found that being obese had a negative effect on memory, compared with normal-weight individuals.

More research needs to be done in order to understand how much mental decline is caused by overeating and obesity, as well as how it works.

Your brain is mostly made up of fat, so eating healthy fats like avocados, nut kinds of butter, fatty fish, and olive oil may help prevent mental decline.

May Make You Nauseous

If you eat too much food at one time, you may feel sick to your stomach and have trouble digesting it.

An adult stomach is about the size of a clenched fist and can hold about 2.5 ounces (75 mL) of liquid when empty. However, the stomach can expand to hold around 1 quart (950 mL) of liquid.

The amount of food you need to eat each day depends on your size and how much you regular eat.

If you eat a large meal and begin to feel nauseous or have indigestion, this may be because you have reached the upper limit of your stomach’s capacity. In severe cases, the nausea may cause you to vomit, which is your body’s way of relieving the acute pressure in your stomach.

The most effective way to avoid indigestion and heartburn is to control your portion sizes and eat more slowly. Although there are many over-the-counter medications that can help relieve these symptoms, it is better to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

May Cause Excessive Gas and Bloating

If you eat a lot of food at once, your digestive system might have a lot of work to do, which could cause you to have gas or feel bloated.

People who eat a lot of spicy, fatty, or carbonated foods tend to produce more gas than people who don’t. Beans, certain veggies, and whole grains may also produce gas, but not as often.

Furthermore, eating too fast may promote gas and bloating due to large amounts of food quickly entering your stomach.

By eating more slowly, you can avoid swallowing air and taking in too much food at a time. Drinking fluids after meals instead of during them can also help to reduce bloating. And finally, portion control is important when it comes to gassy foods – eating less of them can help to prevent excess gas.

May Make You Sleepy

After overeating, many people become sluggish or tired.

The phenomenon known as reactive hypoglycemia may be the cause of your blood sugars dropping shortly after eating a large meal.

The symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling sleepy, sluggish, having a rapid heart rate, and having a headache.

The cause of the condition is unknown, but it is thought to be related to too much insulin production.

Reactive hypoglycemia is a condition where someone’s blood sugar drops too low, and it is most commonly seen in people with diabetes who take too much insulin. However, it is possible for anyone to experience reactive hypoglycemia if they overeat.

The Bottom Line

If you’re not careful, it’s easy to eat too much. Pay attention to how much you’re eating and how full you feel.

This common habit may have some unpleasant side effects, including bloating, gas, nausea, excess body fat, and a higher risk of several illnesses.

You can prevent overeating by eating smaller portions, avoiding processed foods, and eating mostly whole foods.

You can ask a dietitian for help in making a meal plan that will be healthy in the long run if you want to.

 

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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

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