According to data by the US government, we are fast approaching to a figure where almost half of the population would be considered obese. At the end of 2018, 42.4 percent Americans were obese. This has increased dramatically from 30.5 percent in 2000. More alarmingly, the percentage of severely obese people has almost doubled during this period. And overeating does affect these numbers along with making poor eating choices, sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity.
Is Overeating an Eating disorder?
We might overeat occasionally because we are genuinely hungry but if you are eating frequently, then it might well be an indication of binge eating disorder, which has been classified as a disease.
Because of all the negative effects of overeating on our health, it is important to control this eating disorder but overeating habit or overeating disorder could prove more challenging to overcome than we think.
Spotting overeating is a lot easier than finding the reasons of overeating. Overeating symptoms are quite visible and unmistakable. If you notice that your weight numbers are creeping up, your clothes are becoming tighter to fit and your daily eating habits have become abnormal, it is most likely because of overeating. But to give you more clues to clearly understand overeating symptoms, we have listed some hints below:
- Increasing visits to refrigerator thoughtlessly and shoving food in your mouth
- Even keep eating long after you do not feel hungry any more
- Fried foods, high carb foods and sweets are your comfort foods when you are passing through stressful times
- The only thing you think of when bored is food. Eating and even more eating makes you feel excited when you are bored.
- You start withdrawing from people and your family to keep eating alone.
There can be several overeating causes but depression and overeating is one of the prime reasons. Those suffering from depression find comfort in food, and they feel lifted for a short time after eating food.
However, this uplift doesn’t last for long and once it starts adding additional pounds, it leads to further depression bouts and then resulting overeating. This becomes practically a never ending cycle.
Sometimes problems of life also become overwhelming and people try to find solace in food. They give in to food cravings as possible solutions of their problems. But it soon becomes uncontrollable, affecting all dimensions of life.
Feelings bored also can lead to overeating. Bored people try to find excitement in food but this never lasts.
Extreme dieting can also be a reason for overeating. It may sound ironical but intense binge eating sessions can be the result of keeping your body constantly deprived of your favorite foods. And when you cheat on your diet, guilt causes you to overeat even more.
Mindless eating can also be a reason of overeating. Many of us grab food and munch on it mindlessly when we are alone watching TV or even reading a book. This is mindless, and we can not keep track of how much we have eaten because the focus of our mind is the main activity which might be watching a movie or reading a book. We lose track of how much we eat and end up overeating.
Overeating and weight gain are closely linked. Since overeating practically means consuming excess food than our bodies can consume, the remaining calories end up building tires around our waist. Weight gain from overeating is almost a given and in serious conditions it can often lead to obesity.
And once you start gaining weight after overeating, your start thinking negatively about yourself. You feel berated because of your body image and it severely affects your self-esteem and confidence. You lose the initiative and feel that you are good for nothing.
Such feelings take over your life and the result is a reluctance to engage in any positive thought or act.
The overeating effects can be visible and invisible. While it is easy to note excess pounds of weight and obesity, the other hidden problems like diabetes and cardiovascular health would eventually become your companions because of chronic overeating.
Social withdrawal is another effect of overeating. You refuse to join any family celebrations and avoid going out with friends. These are initial signs of depression and both would keep reinforcing each other if you do not treat the underlying cause of overeating.
How to stop overeating
About 15 percent of people report binge eating but only 3 percent qualify the criteria for binge eating disorder or bulimia. However, if left untreated, it is not unimaginable that overeating would lead to this disorder. And even otherwise, overeating is positively associated with weight gain, and it is important to not only keep healthy weight for appearance but also for a healthy life.
Here are a few tips to control overeating:
One very easy modification that you can try is altering your eating behavior. Mindful eating helps your mind register what you are eating and to send signals to your body when you are full. It has shown promise for reducing emotional eating, overeating and binge eating behavior.
Since stress has been identified as a contributor to overeating, it is important to take control of your stress. Alcohol should not be your resort for relieving stress because alcohol and weight loss not only are opposite to each other but it will only add calories to count after overeating.
It is advisable to visit your doctor for a checkup to overcome an eating problem. If there are any underlying health issues, these will address the root cause of overeating.
If it turns out that you are otherwise healthy, then seeing a therapist would be your next step. They will help you understand the triggers that cause overeating and pinpoint what makes you overeat.
Probably they will be able to stop stress in your life and see that you are overeating for comfort because food has been a force of nature for our survival for millennia. Therefore, it is natural that when we are in stress and feeling depressed, we turn to food as a comforting friend to seek comfort and solace.
We need to learn to be comfortable around food and not with food. Training your mind ahead of eating sessions would help you prepare for eating mindfully when presented with a plate full of chocolate cookies.
This will also suppress your cravings when you know that you can have these foods without guilt in moderation. By completely eliminating these comfort foods from your life, you only set yourself up for overeating when presented with an opportunity. This will make you make healthy food choices for rest of the time.
Extreme dieting or limitation would not stop your overeating habits. They will only induce stress and guilt when you cannot stick to these extremely demanding diets. Countless people are caught up in yo-yo dieting cycle and never make any progress with losing weight. Rather we end up eating more until pounds of weight pack on us leading to enormous injury to our self-esteem and more importantly to our health.
Stopping overeating can be challenging but it is possible if you approach it mindfully and by seeking help from professionals. Eating healthy would also help you suppress food cravings, which act as trigger for overeating.