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Why do we overeat, and what can we do about it?

Updated: Jul 29, 2021


That, dear readers, is the face of regret and defeat at the hands of a 6lb empanada. The Whole Lotta Love Challenge was, and still is, the most food I've ever tried to consume at once. I was able to enjoy a full 4.5lbs of the four-filling empanada before tapping out at 21 minutes.

Now, not all of us sit down and tuck into a 6lb meal. However, we're increasingly overeating as a society. Larger portion sizes distracted eating and all-time stress levels (thanks Rona) are causing an overeating problem. However, knowing is half the battle. So, let's take a look at what we can do to combat our overeating tendencies.


Water, Drink it.

This is the one we harp on our daughter all the time. She will complain about being hungry almost immediately after a meal. After my initial response of, "Hi hungry, I'm dad," I get her a bottle of water. She rolls her eyes and then drinks the water. It turns out she was just thirsty, and we probably are as well.

Water does a whole bunch of things in our digestion process. Plus, it takes up room in our stomach, giving us a "full" feeling. A study found a correlation between dehydration and increased BMI (which is still crap, but BMI is still the go-to measurement).

Water is also a better choice of beverage due to its lack of calories. Many folks can be a bit less vigilant of how many calories they're putting in their body with sodas, juices, and coffees. Personally, I carry a gallon around with me all day. There is much speculation on the gallon a day theory, but I find it convenient. I always have water at hand!


Removing Easy Cheats

Y'all, I am an absolute ho for potato chips, a potat-ho if you will. So, if I find myself jonesing for something salty, I'll immediately head to the pantry where my super organized wife has laid out a sodium smorgasbord of overconsumption! I mean, they're vegan after all! Three bags later, I'm struggling with myself to keep from opening a fourth as I realize I've pounded down about 1000 calories!

Solution, just don't have those around. Better to want cheesecake and not have it, than to have it ready to roll in the fridge. You'll find just how little actual craving you have for something junky if you have to put forth the effort to get it!


Meal Prepping

Want to take control of what you eat? Meal prepping is for you. No, you don't even have to cook it. There are tons of meal prepping companies out there, and I bet you'd be surprised by the number of people that offer a catered to your taste meal prepping plan.


Prepping is the way I control my eating through the workweek. I only eat what I bring in my bag, and my prepping is always done by Sunday evening. Then it's a simple grab and go! I hit my macros, stay within my caloric limits, and enjoy some healthy and delicious meals that contain only the things I choose to put in them!


Eat That Protein

Protein-rich foods naturally take longer to break down in the stomach. Therefore, you'll feel fuller longer. A breakfast high in protein and carbs has been proven to curb cravings much more efficiently than a low-carb breakfast.


Luckily the market is flooded with protein-rich snacks thanks to lifters (yay swole squad!). Here are a few snack ideas to bridge the gap in your meals.

  • Icelandic Skyr (lacto-vegetarian)

  • Nuts and Seeds (vegan)

  • Beans, Peas, and Lentils (vegan)

  • Pea Protein Isolate (I like RedCon1 Green Beret)

  • Cheese (lacto-vegetarian)

  • Whey Protein Isolate (lacto-vegetarian)

Quit. Skipping. Meals.

Seriously, stop it! This is not helping you lose weight. All this does is promote your urge to overeat the next time you allow yourself food. On top of that, your body now processes the food differently than if you had just eaten a regular meal earlier.

Whether you eat several small meals throughout the day or just your three squares, you'll want to eat them all consistently. Your body will better regulate what you take in, and you'll be much less likely to overdo it with something not so great for you!


Fiber is Your Friend

Like protein, soluble and insoluble fiber will help you feel fuller for a more extended period of time. If, like me, you've embraced the plant-based life, you'll have NO trouble taking in as much as 500% more than your daily recommended value of fiber. Here are some of my go tos:

  • Whole Grains

  • Leafy Green Veggies

  • Berries

  • Oats

  • Flax Seed Meal

  • Beans, Peas, and Lentils

  • Sweet Potatoes

If you don't have any of these in your daily line-up, it's time to reevaluate!


Portion Control

As you can imagine, this is a big one here in the US. Portions are at an all-time high, and so are our waistlines! Here are a few tips to try and get your portion size back in the ballpark.

  • Think about using smaller plates, bowls, or containers.

  • Immediately repackage bulk items into portioned containers.

  • You can split entrees with someone when you go out. The chef is there to wow your tastebuds, not your cardiologist.

  • Avoid eating anything straight out of the package.

  • Ask for a to-go box with dinner and package up half your food for later.

  • Plate your meals instead of having the cooking container at the table.

  • Pay attention to serving size on nutritional labels. They can be deceiving.

Distracted Eating

Distracted driving can kill. Distracted eating can fatten.

I'm guilty of this at work. I eat at my desk as I answer an email, and then wonder where my food went. Or I sit at one of the tables with a book in hand and get lost in adventure while my food mysteriously disappears. Either way, I had no memory of consuming it wholesale, and If I hadn't prepped it, I would have ended up eating way more than I should have!

Scrolling on your phone, Netflix binging or plopping down on the couch to check out Wheel of Fortune. All of these things can distract us to the point of overeating.


Tracking Your Diet

Again, if you're not tracking what you eat, then how do you know how much you're actually eating? Take a moment and visit MyFitnessPal. Download it, log it, and love it. I promise you won't regret it. Plus, you'll see just how many calories that thing you're eating right now really has.


Reduce Stress

Yeah, easier said than done. I get it! I'm a stress eater from way back. However, you've got to find another outlet other than DoorDash. For me, it turns out that the gym is that solace. For you, it may be painting, journaling, gardening, bike riding, walking your dog, getting a dog... do you have a dog?


The biggest thing that you need to remember is to focus on what you can get done now. You'll do no good borrowing tomorrow's trouble for today. That only invites needless worry... and calories.


Beer Munchies, They're Real!

Alcohol has actually been used for centuries to increase appetite. Of course, it also increases your insulin release, which triggers the fat cells to open, there is an abundance of glucose still in your system, this releases more insulin, and the beer munchies strike anew.

 

These are a few ways to combat overeating, as well as a few reasons we tend to overeat. If you go full-on potat-ho, like I still tend to do, then no worries. Please don't make it the norm, get back after it, and tell your body who is boss. The biggest obstacle to the fitness journey is looking at you in the mirror.

Make sure that whoever is looking back at you knows they're about to be damn fiiiiiine!

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