In order to avoid overeating, it is important to be mindful of portion control and to know which foods are healthy to eat in moderation. Top nutritionists have provided tips for the most common causes of overeating so that people can learn how to overcome them.
- You’re surviving on just salads
You could be doing it wrong if you’re only eating cruciferous veggies and dark leafy greens. The Nutrition Twins explain that while veggies are low in calories and packed with nutrients, you need some more substantial, energy-providing carbohydrates or protein to keep you feeling satisfied.
- Pringles and Skittles are lying on your counter
To avoid overeating, don’t put tempting foods in easily-seen, easily-reached places. “You’re less likely to eat the things you don’t have if they aren’t right in front of you,” says Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh. “Instead, place bowls of fruits and veggies out on the counter and ditch the display of unhealthy snacks.” Pro-tip: Make sure none of the unhealthiest foods on the planet are within easy reach of your kitchen.
- You’re a multitasking master
Savor the taste and the way it feels in your mouth. This is one champion title you don’t want to rock. “Eating in front of the computer, TV, in the car, or while reading a book are all things we love to do,” says Kimberly Gomer, RD, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa. “But our stomachs have ‘stretch receptors.’ When food hits our stomachs, the stretch receptors send a signal of satiety to our brains saying ‘You’re full!’ This signal 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 overeating pitfall, practice mindful eating. Turn off any distractions around you, sit quietly, and focus on all the aspects of your meal when you eat. Savor the taste and the way it feels in your mouth. In order to avoid overeating, it is important to be mindful while eating. This means turning off any distractions, sitting quietly, and focusing on the meal. Paying attention to the taste and texture of the food will help to send satiety signals to the brain, indicating that you are
- 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,” offer The Nutrition Twins. 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
This is amazing: “We make approximately 200 food choices each day,” says Hever. “Meal planning is optimal to help you gain control of your overall food intake.”
- You’re noshing on processed foods
The authors main idea in this excerpt is that many of the foods we eat are chemically engineered to make us think we are still hungry when we are not. This is because these foods lack actual nutrition and are heavily processed with additives, flavourings and textures that make us crave more. The author suggests that instead of eating these foods, we should fill up on fruits and vegetables first.
- Something is driving you next-level insane
An accumulation of stress can lead to weight gain due to increased cortisol levels, which promote hunger. According to Hever, managing stress through techniques such as meditation, walking, or talking to a friend or therapist can help to deal with the underlying issues.
- You’re hitting the gym too hard
You’re a rockstar at Crossfit, keeping up the good work! But be careful, sometimes working out too hard can make it hard to control your appetite. The Nutrition Twins say that for some people, exercising with a bit less intensity for a longer period of time helps, while for others, it means stopping their interval workout 10 minutes earlier and continuing at a lower intensity. Test yourself out and see what works for you, and be sure to stay hydrated so you don’t think you’re hungry when you’re actually just thirsty.
- You’re not sleeping enough
If you’re finding that you’re always hungry the day after you don’t sleep well, you’re not alone. According to research, missing just a single night of sleep can have a big impact on appetite hormones, making you hungrier than usual. To avoid this, aim to get six to eight hours of sleep every night. Start by turning off lights and electronics an hour before bed, and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. If there are times when this is not possible (such as when traveling or during periods of stress), plan meals in advance and pay attention to hunger and satiety cues.
- You’re craving comfort
Even though it may be tempting, it is key to avoid food that makes you feel cozy rather than providing fuel for your body. “Some foods are deeply symbolical and remind us of good times with family and friends, so it may seem soothing to eat them when we feel the need for emotional connection or when we are feeling sad or longing. Try reaching out to loved ones and friends when you feel this way,” suggests Hever.
- You’re skimping on fiber and protein
A big reason you need fiber and protein for healthy, permanent weight loss is that not getting enough can put you at risk for overeating. “They keep you feeling satisfied because they take longer to digest,” say The Nutrition Twins. You should never have your meal without adequate protein and fiber. Cut back on some of the cereal and have a Greek yogurt at breakfast; make sure your salad at lunch has chicken, shrimp or tofu; as your snack, skip the pretzels and try veggie crudites and hummus; and cut your pasta dinner in half and add lean protein like seafood or grilled chicken with a bunch of your favorite veggies tossed in.
- You’re bored
The author claims that emotional eating is real and begins as a habit when we are children. They say that when we get upset as adults, we often reach for sugary or high-calorie foods even though we know they are bad for us. Instead of emotional eating, the author suggests taking a five-minute walk, talking to a friend, or doing some deep breathing to calm down.
- You’re banning a food or food group your body craves
“As registered dietitians, we find that some of the most well-intentioned healthy eaters overeat other foods as they attempt to avoid the one food they want. Instead of just having the cookie they crave, they have a serving of yogurt, a handful of whole-grain crackers, some fruit, and more. Before they know it, they’ve overeaten. Yes, it was healthy food, but they’ve consumed a lot of calories and still don’t feel satisfied,” comment The Nutrition Twins. What to do instead? “Allow yourself to indulge in one pre-determined portion of the treat, such as a small cookie, a square of dark chocolate or half a cup of low-fat ice cream. The key is to know in advance how much you can have. Fill up first on a healthy meal with satisfying protein and fiber so that you don’t overeat out of hunger.”
- You’re skipping meals
Lewis says that most people should not go more than four to five hours between meals. Going too long without food can lead to a drop in blood sugar, which will cause hunger cravings and make you over-indulge. To avoid this, watch for hunger cues like irritability and take a break to have a healthy snack.
5 Harmful Effects of Overeating
If you aren’t aware of how much you’re eating, you can easily eat too much and develop some serious health problems. A good way to get a handle on this is to learn how overeating affects your body.
- May promote excess body fat
Your daily calorie balance is determined by how many calories you consume versus how many you burn. When you consume more calories than you burn, this is known as a calorie surplus. Your body may store these additional calories as fat.
If you overeat, you may be consuming more calories than you need, which can lead to excess body fat or obesity. However, overeating protein is not as likely to increase body fat because it is metabolized differently. Excess calories from carbs and fats are much more likely to increase body fat.
If you want to avoid gaining too much fat, start by eating foods that are high in lean protein and low in carbohydrates and fat.
- May disrupt hunger regulation
Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating hormone, while leptin hormone suppresses appetite.
If you don’t eat for a while, you will produce more ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that makes you feel hungry. Once you start eating, your body will produce leptin. Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel full.
However, overeating may disrupt this balance.
Eating foods high in fat, salt, or sugar releases dopamine, which activates pleasure centers in your brain.
The longer you eat certain foods, the more your body will begin to associate pleasure with those foods. These foods are typically high in fat and calories, which can override the feeling of hunger and encourage you to eat for pleasure rather than hunger.
If these hormones are disrupted, it may cause a person to overeat all the time.
One way to minimize the overeating that often occurs during holidays is to be mindful of the portions of certain foods that make you feel good, and eat them slowly so your body has time to register that it’s full.
- May increase disease risk
While reasonable overeating likely won’t hurt long-term wellbeing, incessant gorging can prompt weight issues. Also, this condition has routinely been appeared to build sickness hazard.
Obesity is one of the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that raises your chances of heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
There are several indicators that may suggest you have metabolic syndrome. These include having high levels of fat in your blood, having elevated blood pressure, exhibiting insulin resistance, and experiencing inflammation.
When you eat too much sugar, it causes insulin resistance, which is when the hormone insulin can’t store blood sugar in your cells.
If insulin resistance is not controlled, it may lead to type 2 diabetes.
To reduce your risk of conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, you should avoid processed foods high in calories, eat plenty of vegetables rich in fiber, and moderate the size of your carbohydrate portions.
- May impair brain function
Over time, overeating may harm brain function.
Several studies indicate that older adults who overeat continuously are more likely to experience mental decline than those who do not overeat.
One study found that overweight people tend to have worse memory, especially compared to those of normal weight.
Overeating and obesity have been linked to mental decline, but more studies are needed to determine the extent and how it happens.
Since your brain is made up of around 60% fat, consuming healthy fats like avocados, nut butter, fatty fish, and olive oil could help stop mental decline.
- May make you nauseous
The adult stomach can hold about 2.5 ounces (75 mL) when empty and expand to around 1 quart (950 mL).
The number of calories you should eat every day depends on your size and how much you normally eat.
If you eat a large meal and begin to reach the maximum capacity of your stomach, you may experience nausea or indigestion. In severe cases, this nausea can cause vomiting, which is your body’s way of relieving acute stomach pressure.
The best way to avoid these symptoms is to control your portion sizes and eat more slowly.