Food: Why Do I Stuff Myself?
Teaching fitness for more than 25 years, I worked out a lot and ate healthily. Overeating was reserved for holiday feasts and social gatherings. I got away with the “scale shock” because I was working out and shedding those excess calories.
On occasion, “overeating” just happened! A family favorite, hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes, forced me to undo my jeans’ top button. The “bloat” lasted all night long. I over-ate every time I prepared that meal.
Why? I cooked lots of food and regularly had left-overs. Was I afraid there wouldn’t be any left or feared someone would get to the leftovers before I did?
I have crossed the mid-fifties mark. Those “extra calories” linger! So, knowing that, why do I still sometimes overeat?
Why Do You Stuff Yourself? –
It’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving, where second pieces of pie or overly large helpings of mashed potatoes are routine. It’s an ordinary day, and you stuff yourself.
- Do you ask yourself why?
- Feel depressed or remorseful after eating?
- Eat ’til you open the top button of your pants?
- Compelled to clean your plate? Not enough for leftovers, so you eat the rest?
- Overeat, knowing you’ll “pay for it” later?
- Look for food when you aren’t hungry?
- On medications that fuel your appetite?
Why do we stuff ourselves?
Our Food Journey –
Food is much more than fuel for some. Food can comfort, reduce stress, reduce boredom, calm nerves, numb anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. Eating is a way to hide from the world or ourselves. Some forget to eat, and some refuse to eat, fearing weight gain.
Emotional Eating –
Emotional eating is destructive, period! It fosters self-doubt, lowers self-esteem, takes our power, creates disease, and disconnects us from body/mind and spirit. Emotional eating is a numbing agent! Stress is the norm in our hectic lives. Manufacturers create quicker, more highly processed foods. Genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s) are nearly unavoidable in our diets, and sugar is in nearly everything. Obesity is on the rise. So it is SUGAR CRAVING!
To Stop Stuffing! –
- Practice loving-kindness toward yourself.
- Alter the language you use about your body.
- Listen to body cues on hunger/thirst.
- FULL? Push the plate away!
- Avoid food tables at social gatherings.
- Relax, breathe, enter the present moment.
- Use a smaller plate/bowl.
- Eat ONLY when hungry.
- Chew food – savor it.
- Have gratitude for the food you prepare and eat.
- Find opportunities for self-nurture.
- Identify triggers that lead to emotional eating.
- Identify emotional needs and find healthier ways to meet them.
- NEVER go all day without food.
Of course, the old saying “easier said than done” applies.
Changing eating habits isn’t merely about what you eat. What you purchase, what you cook, and how. Processed foods are loaded with additives designed to push your “eat more” button. Our cultural norm is “super-size.”
Social Gatherings –
According to Food Today, “Social influences on food intake refer to the impact that one or more persons have on the eating behavior of others, either direct or indirect, either conscious or subconscious. Even when eating alone, food choice is influenced by social factors because attitudes and habits develop through interaction with others.
Research has shown that we eat more with our friends and family than when we eat alone, and the quantity of food increases as the number of fellow diners grows.” (1)
The Brain –
Hypothalamus produces many essential hormones. Hormones govern functions such as THIRST, HUNGER, mood, sleep, sex drive, and temperature regulation.
“Amygdala is an important part of the limbic system. The limbic system is comprised of various brain structures located above the brain stem. It is highly involved with our emotions, feelings of pleasure, and memories. The amygdala is involved with the processing of emotions, memories, and motivation.” (2)
Ghrelin, a hormone produced by the hypothalamus and the stomach, increases before a meal and decreases after eating. This hormone signals hunger and is associated with food cravings. Leptin does the opposite. It signals fullness. It also regulates energy expenditure and intake. It is produced by adipose (fat) tissue and binds to specific receptors of the hypothalamus. (3)
When Ghrelin (hunger) and Leptin (satiation) hormones are out of balance, the body’s signal for fuel and regulation of energy expenditure and intake is out of balance.
Herbs & Supplements –
Controlling hunger is BIG business! It is tempting to hope herbs and supplements will stimulate the appetite or suppress it, avoiding weight gain.
Remember, not all claims are backed up by research. The FDA regulates dietary supplements, but manufacturers (typically drug companies) do NOT have to prove the safety or effectiveness of supplements they sell. It’s a good idea to discuss using supplements with your health care professional.
Thyroid Nation writes, “Magnesium Can Rescue Your Unbalanced Hormones.”
“Mag lowers blood sugar. Magnesium is so effective at sensitizing the insulin receptor that I refer to as our ‘natural metformin.’
Insulin control means fewer sugar cravings. Healthy insulin sensitivity is important for weight loss and PCOS, and it prevents osteoporosis.” (4)
One Final Bit of Information –
Dr. David Kessler, the author of The End of Overeating, On Why We Can’t Stop Eating, clearly believes that –
- Fats plus sugar
- Fats plus salt
- Fats plus sugar and salt
ALL culprits in stimulating food intake. There isn’t room in this blog to write more on his work, but I urge you to watch his YouTube videos and READ HIS BOOK.
- “Why we eat what we eat: social and economic determinants of food choice,” last modified in October 2004 – Food Today
- “Amygdala’s Role in Emotion: Function, Overview, Chapter 7 / Lesson 19”, last modified on (no date is given) – Study.com
- “The Role of the Hypothalamus in Hunger,” last modified on March 27 – hellolife.net
- “Magnesium Can Rescue Your Unbalanced Hormones,” last modified on April 28, 2016 – Thyroidnation.com