Why do we overeat? Beware: It’s not just the overweight who overeat

A couple of days back we saw a post from Nachiket, who had described his daily eating pattern, especially that on Monday (a day when everyone is struck with the blues!). On any given Monday, Nachiket was consuming more than 5000 kcal while his biological need was only about 2500 kcal. So how is it that he never realized that he was overeating? How is it ,that even after eating all that he was eating, he still felt envious of others whom he saw eating much more? Why were his Monday mornings, even more miserable than ever?

Let’s try and answer some of these questions.

There are two primary reasons behind overeating – biological and emotional (psychological).

The biological reasons for overeating can be as simple as too long a gap in between meals, resulting in a person overeating at the next meal time. A lot of us must have experienced the urge to pack in a whole lot of food, especially when we get back home after a long day at work. Having been through an exhausting day, and the last meal having been lunch, one tends to simply gorge upon whatever food presents itself at dinner. It need not even be a favorite food or a fattening food.

Another example would be – Amita goes to the gym early in the morning at 6.30 am (this is strictly hypothetical!). A rigorous work out blunts her appetite and hence she has only one toast for breakfast. That temporarily lost appetite catches up with her by lunch time. The result is obvious- Amita ends up eating not only her packed lunch, but feasts on that of her colleagues as well. 🙂

Emotional Eating:

Emotions may not necessarily mean intense feelings like anger, depression, extreme excitement. It can also mean just boredom, nothing to do, wanting to kill time or purely habit. For eg. eating while watching TV, reading or just chatting with friends. To take Nachiket’s example, a lot of times during the day he was eating just because he ‘felt’ like eating or felt hungry. It was not a biological need for calories, but the psychological craving for food.

People who are on a diet and abide by rules like ‘no chocolate, no sweets, no fried stuff’; when faced with exactly all of that food tend to overeat. This happens because they truly believe that this is going to be the very last time they are eating that. Till the time they are faced with another such situation again.

Here is a handy list of triggers for overeating:

1. Boredom
2. Feeling deprived of foods you love, can leave you craving for foods even more.
3. Inability to accept your body as it is and having high ideals for it (eg. a ramp model figure)
4. Glucose Intolerance (get your blood sugar checked regularly)
5. Junk eating habits
6. Overworking- feeling tired
7. Need for love and comfort
8. Feeling lonely
9. Feeling upset, hurt
10. Lack of willpower

So the next time you notice any of these triggers, you know not to head for the fridge or the store cupboard or the office vending machine; but to divert your mind to something else- take a walk, tweet, blog, talk to friends etc.

Take care!

About Amita

Nutritionist, Foodie, Mum.
This entry was posted in Diet and Nutrition- Simplified and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why do we overeat? Beware: It’s not just the overweight who overeat

  1. Amita says:

    Reblogged this on Healthy Feasts and commented:

    We all know that if we overeat, we will end up being overweight. But have you ever tried to know why we overeat? Take a look at this post I had written a long time ago which is still relevant today.


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