So you couldn’t help but eat that box of cookies and that pint of ice cream. Oh, and let’s not forget the leftover pizza from last week. Just blame it on your willpower, right? What I say next might surprise you, but the reason you’re overeating might have nothing to do with your willpower.
Your desire to eat often reflects real needs, and the best way to control your appetite is to address those needs. Until you understand the root cause of the overeating, you’ll be trapped in a vicious cycle without any awareness of what’s really causing this behavior. Here are 7 common reasons that can make you overeat.
7 Reasons Why You Might Be Overeating
1. You’re eating too many starchy carbohydrates
Starchy carbs quickly break down into sugar in the body. This increases internal insulin levels, which turn the carbs you just ate into fat. But now, there’s a lack of fuel. So what happens? Your body urges you to eat energy-dense foods for a quick energy boost. The next thing you know, you’re digging into your fridge looking for leftover pasta.
2. You’re not getting quality sleep
Staying up past your bedtime? Suffering from insomnia? Sleep quality is not so great because of sleep apnea? Whatever the problem, come morning, you’re tired. Your exhaustion here means a high level of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you hungry and crave for an energy boost through sugary foods. All this translates into an increased desire to overeat!
3. You skip breakfast
Let’s talk about how breakfast impacts ghrelin. Fasting until lunch time can cause your ghrelin levels to spike later in the day. Your brain will command you to eat despite your willpower. Yes, there are people who swear by not eating breakfast and do just fine. But for most of us, skipping breakfast sets us up to overeat.
4. You’re not eating any fats
Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates and a reduced digestion improves blood sugar levels. When you omit fat from your diet, you’re much more likely to get blood sugar spikes followed by blood sugar crashes, which can lead to hunger and overeating. So, make sure that you consume healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, seeds, and nuts.
5. You’re dehydrated
Ideally, you should drink more water and less alcohol and caffeine. But did you know that reduced hydration can make you hungry? Your brain often confuses thirst with hunger. So if your cravings are going full force, it might be time for a big glass of water.
6. You’ve been under long-term stress
When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, a response that is meant to be temporary. But if you have constantly been under stress for a long time, these hormones can dull the brain’s reaction to another hormone called leptin, whose job is to signal your brain when you’re full. In such cases, cortisol and adrenaline might also keep your brain from getting the message.
7. You eat when distracted
There is a psychological aspect to hunger and cravings. When you eat quickly, or while distracted, your mind doesn’t have the time to appreciate what you eat or tell your brain that you’re full. So, you’ll finish a meal feeling unsatisfied and emotionally hungry. The best way to eat is by fully focusing your mind on your meal and chew properly. This will help you get the most out of your meal.
Do any of these 7 reasons for overeating resonate with you? Think of these the next time you find yourself eating nonstop. And see if the real reason for your ravenous hunger has anything to do with willpower.