Reasons why you can’t stop eating and how to tame the crave
We all know the feeling, when you find yourself eating and know you’re not hungry. We’ve compiled a list of the reasons you could be over-eating, and how to tame the habit.
Tiredness Science has shown that not getting enough sleep (we need at least 7 hours a night) reduces the body’s production of Leptin – a hormone involved in appetite control. Suboptimal sleepers are therefore more likely to eat more, and in turn become overweight or obese. Prioritise your sleep and curb the hunger.
Out of habit Food habits are easy to form and difficult to break. For example, do you always have a biscuit with your cup of tea, or always have sweets straight after dinner even though you feel full? A good tip to try and beat these habits is to wait 30 minutes, and see if after that time you still want the food.
Boredom or procrastination We’ve all been in this situation – you’re wandering around the house looking for something to do and end up at the fridge. It might be true boredom or perhaps you’re putting off something that needs doing like housework!
Thirst Your brain has trouble distinguishing between hunger and thirst. So, if you’re eating regular meals but still feeling hungry in between, you could actually be thirty and risking dehydration. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, with more in hot weather and when you exercise.
Stress and other emotions When stress hormones race through your body, it is preparing you to take action. From an evolutionary sense, this may mean needing to flee from a threat, which requires fuel! Its make sense then, why you might crave food when you’re stressed. Try some non-food related stress relievers, like going for a walk, listening to some calming music or taking a bath.
Pressure from others Many of us have people in our lives that are “feeders”, often a mother or grandparents. You may also feel pressure to eat when offered if you don’t want to offend someone for their efforts. Think about if you really want the food, and if it’s serving your health goals.
Are you eating mindlessly? When you do other things while eating (like watching TV), you can miss out on some of the experiences of eating, like the mouth feel, tastes, smells and textures, that all help give us the feelings of being satisfied and full. This can result in you eating more than you need, or searching for more food a short time later. When you eat, just eat. Try to minimise unnecessary distractions if you can.
Skipping meals Whether it be intentional or due to busy circumstances, when you skip a meal you can be much hungrier when you do next eat, but you might not realise it until you start eating. This can result in a big over consumption of food. Eating regular meals also ensures your body has a stable fuel supply.
Eating an unhealthy or unbalanced diet Carbohydrates have an important impact on your energy levels. High GI carbohydrate (e.g. white bread, lollies) release energy quickly and an energy crash can follow. Low GI carbohydrates (e.g. whole grain bread and brown rice) give you more sustained energy. We know that feeling tired can make you want to eat more, so choose the healthy options to keep energy levels stable throughout the day.
Unmet needs How does eating chocolate make you feel subconsciously? While this is likely difficult to answer, it’s an important thing to understand. Many of us have emotional connections with food, perhaps having used it as a comfort for many years. Maybe you are feeling sad or lonely and chocolate is your go-to. Instead of heading for the pantry, try calling a friend for some connection.
Prepared by Kara Vogt – Accredited Practicing Dietitian