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5 Reasons We Overeat

5 Reasons We Overeat

Greg Sterner, Licensed Physical Therapist, Owner of Fitness Together Point Loma

5 Reasons Why We Overeat

Being aware of why you overeat can help you make a different choice the next time around.

They've grown as much as 138% since the 1970's. We're just putting TOO MUCH food on our plates, and research shows that we are inclined to keep eating and eating until the food is gone.

We have a tendency to consume more food and drink when we dine with other people. We use other people's eating behaviors as cues for how we should be eating. So, if everyone is eating-eating-eating around the restaurant table and we're using everyone else's behavior as a guide for our own, we're going to keep eating. And so are they. We're all bouncing our behavior off of each other. When's the last time you went out with friends and didn't stagger home, filled to the point of bursting? And when we're distracted by conversation, laughter, good times, we're not even aware that we're shoveling food into our mouths. I'm a huge distracted eater. Always have been. When I sit down at my favorite Mexican restaurant, I can easily have a tortilla chip with every word that comes out of my mouth.

When we're faced with something that we WANT to do but know we SHOULDN'T, or something we DON'T WANT to do but know we SHOULD, we draw upon our willpower reserves. If you draw on it too much, it won't be there when you need it. Think of willpower like a smartphone. It's all charged up at the beginning of the day, but as you use it, the charge drops. Willpower should be your LAST line of resistance, used only when everything else has failed. Designing your environment is KEY to this. You need to intentionally engineer an environment that promotes health, not temptation (more on this at another time).

When your cortisol-leptin-ghrelin hormones, which loom large in managing your appetite and satiety, get thrown off, you're going to struggle.This is a very involved subject and I'm not an expert. I'll just say this; sleep deprivation will upset this balance hugely. It makes you HUNGRY and hungry for energy-dense, sugary foods. So will stress and dieting. Other factors are involved, too; how much body fat you have, how quickly you lose weight, what kinds of food you eat, and more.

Here's a dirty little secret; processed food manufacturers, like General Mills, etc., hire food scientists to engineer foods that will trigger your "bliss point."The Bliss Point is the point at which they have optimized the balance of fat, sugar and salt in an industrialized food so that it delivers the maximum amount of enjoyment.

In short, the Bliss Point is the point at which the food activates the pleasure centers of your brain and stimulates the release of neurochemicals that produce feelings of reward or the anticipation of reward.

Let me restate this. Food companies are intentionally manipulating the formulation of foods to trigger neurobiological responses in your brain that make you desire and crave it.Just like Big Tobacco did.You are a profit center for them. They want you to BUY more of their foods, so they are constructing it to appeal to you in ways you're not even aware of.


2 Action Steps for Avoiding Overeating

Getting 7-8 hours of sleep (this is a whole conversation I'll address soon) will help with hormone and appetite management. If you try to lose too much weight too fast, your body will fight back. Follow a proven, research-based exercise and nutrition program that promotes healthy rates of fat loss.

We are not biologically adapted to cope with high doses of simple carbohydrates and refined sugar. It causes an insulin response that results in fat storage and increased hunger. The food manufacturers know this and are making fools out of us. Don't let them. You don't have to be their science experiment. Limit buying industrialized food.And let me tell you we can't do this alone. We need help.

If you're "winging it," you're going to lose. Go into the world armed with a plan and support. That's your only defense against very, very strong forces that oppose you.

Our desire to live healthy, maintain our weight and exercise consistently is opposed by economic, social, media-related and evolutionary forces.

If you know, in advance, HOW you're going to eat, WHAT you're going to eat, HOW MUCH you're going to eat and WHEN you're going to eat, you're in a solid position.

When you went to college, you followed a curriculum. You met with your advisor and mapped out what classes you were going to take and in what order so that you could reach your goal of graduating with a particular degree. Doesn't mean you didn't stumble along the way, get a C, drop a class, or take philosophy just for the heck of it.

But your plan rolled out a long carpet to success. As long as you followed the carpet, you'd get there. Even if you strayed into the weeds, as long as you found your way back to the carpet you were golden.

This is what a nutrition and exercise plan provides; that long carpet to success. Just make sure that the person who helps you roll it out knows what he/she's doing.

In the end, it's important to understand the REAL reasons why we do things. That's the only way we can truly game plan for solutions.

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