Overeating refers to the act of consuming more food than is necessary to meet the body’s energy needs. It can be a result of various factors such as emotional stress, boredom, or a lack of self-control. Overeating is often associated with eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and other mental health conditions that can affect an individual’s relationship with food. Overeating can lead to weight gain and obesity, which in turn can increase the risk of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It’s important to maintain a balanced diet and healthy relationship with food to avoid the negative consequences of overeating.
Why do we overeat
There’s many reasons why we overeat. Lack of sleep, stress eating, processed foods and large portion sizes may lead to overeating. If we don’t get plenty of sleep we will have an imbalance of hormones that affect hunger. Gherlin is the main hormone that impacts hunger and is higher in people that get poor sleep. This is why getting 7-9 hours of sleep is key for preventing overeating. Processed foods can also play a role in overeating. This is because processed foods tend to be processed by the body rapidly which causes us to feel less full after a meal. Stress eating is something that can lead to overeating because high levels of cortisol can increase cravings for sugary and fatty foods.
Ways to prevent overeating
Sleep: making it a priority to get a good night sleep is key to prevent overeating. If you’re lacking sleep you will not be able to prevent overeating because your willpower won’t be able to overcome the feeling of wanting to eat more food. As mentioned, stress is a big reason why we overeat and not getting plenty of sleep will impact your stress levels which may lead to a cycle of overeating.
Eat high quality food: Eating whole foods that aren’t processed will help prevent you from eating too much. This is because the fiber from the whole foods will slow down digestion allowing you to feel full longer. The same rules apply for non processed meats. When you eat processed foods of any kind you’re doing some of the work of the body and allowing energy to be quickly broken down. Try your best to eat non processed foods.
Portion sizes: Keep an eye on your portion sizes. Here’s a guide on portion sizes.
Proper portion sizes can vary depending on an individual’s age, gender, activity level, and overall health goals. However, the following are some general guidelines that can help you maintain a healthy diet:
- Vegetables: aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Protein: the recommended serving size of protein is about 3-4 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. Good sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, tofu, and eggs.
- Grains: choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta. A serving size of grains is about 1/2 cup cooked or a slice of bread.
- Fruits: one serving of fruit is about the size of a small apple, orange, or banana.
- Fats: healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil should be consumed in moderation. A serving size of fat is about 1 tablespoon.
Avoid mindless eating
Mindless eating refers to the act of consuming food without paying attention to what or how much is being eaten. This can happen when a person eats while distracted, such as while watching TV, working on the computer, or scrolling through their phone. Mindless eating can also occur when a person eats too quickly or eats directly out of the package or container, which can make it difficult to gauge how much food is being consumed.
Mindless eating can lead to overeating and can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. When a person is not fully aware of what and how much they are eating, it can be difficult to make healthy choices and to stay within appropriate portion sizes. To avoid mindless eating, it’s important to eat slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the flavors, textures, and smells of the food, as well as how full you feel. Eating at a table without distractions and using smaller plates and bowls can also help to prevent overeating and promote more mindful eating habits.
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