Why Do We Overeat?

Sometimes hunger comes up too often, regardless of the fact that you’ve just had a hearty meal. You haven’t even finished washing the dishes, and you’re hungry again. Constant hunger leads to overeating, which is not good for your body and health.

Temporary bouts of appetite

It’s normal to experience an increase in appetite after a strenuous workout or during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. But if these reasons don’t apply to you and you feel like a bottomless barrel, then something is clearly wrong.

See if you are making a mistake in your diet and eating habits.

What pushes us to overeat?

No, it’s not a lack of willpower. Yes, there are ways to break the cycle, but the reasons why we overeat more often have more to do with chemistry than with the inability to say no to sweets.

When you eat food with sugar, fat, or salt, your brain remembers a unique feeling of pleasure. This stimulates the production of “happiness chemicals” – dopamine and serotonin.

Why do we want “junk food”?

High levels of sugar, fat, salt and processed foods give our brain an explosive boost and it starts producing the same chemicals in large quantities.

Our brains memorize that foods with sugar give us a greater reward than vegetables, for example. We can subtly focus on eating foods that give us moments of pleasure and lead to the same reward. The pursuit of these feelings can become more important than a healthy diet.

Overeating “junk” or highly processed foods leads to a cycle. The more we eat foods that give us a sense of reward, the more we crave them. That’s why when you stop eating a lot of these foods, you crave them less over time.

So, the main reason for overeating is the “lack of pleasure hormone” in the body.

In order to stop or reduce overeating, you need to find ways to increase the level of this substance by other means:

Eat little but often

This argument may seem strange, especially when you’re trying to curb your appetite.

But long intervals between meals can lead to constant hunger. The fact is that when you feel hungry for a long time, your body cannot quickly get full, or rather, your brain refuses to accept the signal of satiety. As a result, you eat more than you need, but you don’t feel full.

Too many simple carbohydrates and sugars

Muesli or three buns for breakfast are really high in calories and are perfectly satiating. But you can’t fool your body in this way. Consuming a large number of simple carbohydrates, such as sweets, and muesli will only increase your appetite. After a lunch full of simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises quickly, but then it drops quickly. And the body needs more fuel again. This leads to the fact that you never feel full, even if you actually overeat.

Be sure to include protein in your meals and limit simple carbohydrates, especially in the evening. The best sources of protein include meat, fish and seafood, poultry, cheese and yogurt, and eggs.

You confuse thirst with hunger

Many people confuse the feeling of thirst with hunger. Instead of drinking a glass of plain water, they make themselves a sausage sandwich and wash it down with sweet tea. As a result, the body continues to send signals about water deficiency, but they don’t hear it and continue to eat.

State of stress

Our thoughts and emotions are often responsible for the constant feeling of hunger and overeating. In particular, those that make us nervous. Stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol, which promotes appetite. As you know, sweets and delicious food often act as an antidepressant.

After eating them, you will feel better, but not for long. Eventually, you will start to get nervous again and empty the fridge again.

So, you need to avoid stressful situations and calm yourself down not with food, but with walks in the fresh air and herbal teas.

Lack of sleep

After a sleepless night or getting up too early, the painful feeling of hunger and cravings for fatty foods are quite reasonable. Sleep is very closely related to two hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Lack of sleep puts these hormones in a state of imbalance.

Leptin, also known as the satiety hormone, helps regulate weight. High levels signal to the brain that we are sufficiently full and can focus on other things besides food. With leptin deficiency, a person stops feeling full and eats more and more.

The second of these hormones, ghrelin, is responsible for the feeling of hunger.

You can “outsmart” the hormone by slowing down the process of eating and savoring the food.

Constant hunger is a symptom of a disease

If you have already checked all other possible causes of your constant overeating and nothing has changed, it is advisable to go to the doctor to rule out medical problems. Appetite is increased by many medical problems, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, or side effects of certain medications.

You may be surprised to learn that there are many underlying reasons for overeating.

Quick tips on how to reduce overeating:

  • You can track the triggers of the behavior – do you overeat in front of the TV or after a stressful situation? Understanding such moments is half the battle.
  • Make a shopping list so you don’t throw a few extra chocolates at the checkout.
  • Think more often about the feelings you have after overeating, because a box of cookies does not help you get rid of stress, usually you feel worse afterward.
  • When you feel the urge to eat without feeling hungry, shift your focus to something else.
    think of another way to feel pleasure, for example, training also gives us endorphins.
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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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