Yes, we have to eat. It’s fundamental. And, of course, most of us enjoy it, especially when the food is yummy. Alas, we don’t always have a good sense of when to stop, so our wondrous bodies send us a few clues that we are eating too much.
While we may poke fun at humorous situations such as Homer Simpson eating until he can’t physically move, in reality, the consequences of eating too much can range from a simple mild stomach ache in the short term to the many health risks associated with chronic obesity such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Overeating isn’t always as dramatic as eating until the zippers pop on our pants, but it’s simply eating more than we need at that specific time, or eating beyond when we’re FULL, instead of stopping when we’ve gotten the nutrients we need.
That’s the difference between taking in nourishment and just eating to satisfy some need.
And it can be the difference between health (with satisfaction) and serious complications and more often than you may realize, to death.
Most of us don’t have the natural constraints our ancestors did to prevent us from overeating.
- In evolutionary terms, most humans couldn’t overeat, because large-scale agriculture and food processing weren’t available until fairly recently.
We now, and certainly in the U.S., have access to more food and more “convenience” edibles than ever before.
➡ And it’s driving hospitalizations through the roof, putting taxing demands on our medical professionals, and killing us with heart disease in its many forms, diabetes, kidney failure, some cancers…so many ways.
So, what drives us to eat more than we need? What are a few clues that we are eating too much?
2. Another key insight is that many people have emotional connections to food.
We have learned, through multiple studies and research, that many people tend to overeat when they are feeling sad, depressed, or struggling with an issue.
➡ A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researched the eating habits of adolescents who eventually developed eating disorders like binge eating.
They concluded: “These results indicate that it is important to consider depressive symptoms in overeating.”
Take a look at your reasons for reaching for food, beyond your regular meals, or why you are always hungry.
➡ Are you eating because you’re hungry, or is it because it’s making you feel better while dealing with an emotional issue?
➡ Are you eating because you’re bored? Have few, if any, friends or close family members?
➡ Are you suffering from untreated depression, but convincing yourself that you “don’t need pills” to help deal with it?
On a more “clinical” note, consider that you may be overeating due to hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar.
➡ Hypoglycemia can cause people to eat more in order to satisfy the body’s urge to increase insulin production. A good reason to use moderation when eating sweets, as they lead to eating even more than we actually need.
But the best, most efficient and accurate warning system for a few clues that we are eating too much is our own bodies.
There is NO better warning system.
These are signals from your body that it has had enough.
➡ Very often, if you feel a constant need for laxatives or antacids it is your body telling you that you’ve taken in far more food than you need.
And it won’t just be what you ate that day…it’s a cumulative effect, for some people, of how they have been eating for years.
➡ Additionally, your body will tell you that you’re eating too much by affecting your energy level and mental alertness.
They will have the opposite effect of what you expect if you go overboard.
And, “overboard” doesn’t only refer to quantity.
➡ 5 slices of cantaloupe will affect you much differently than ONE hunk of Italian bread slathered with butter…
While we all enjoy a finely cooked meal or delicious snacks, biologically speaking, food is simply fuel for our body to consume and turn into energy.
There’s no denying we love food! Our bodies and our brains love food as well. It’s the energy that allows them to move and function…But the best way to thank and honor them is to pay attention to their finely tuned warning system. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong. All the signs are there. Tell yourself “shhhhh” when you’re eating, and listen to your body. Then, I promise, you can throw away your scales.
And Stay Informed!