By Marli Naidoo
Most of us have gorged ourselves a few times. Some people make a daily habit of it. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain’s message that you’ve had enough to reach your stomach. When you keep on eating after getting the feeling that you have had your fill, you are overeating.
After eating too much, you will feel uncomfortable. Your distended stomach will press against your other organs, which can make you feel tired and listless. Your organs also have to work harder to process the food. They release extra hormones and enzymes to break down the food.
The stomach produces hydrochloric acid. When you eat too much, this acid can back up into the oesophagus and cause heartburn. Greasy food can increase your chances of getting heartburn.
You may also feel more bloated and uncomfortable because your body is producing more gases.
Your metabolism can accelerate in an effort to try and burn the extra calories. This could lead to dizziness, sweating and overheating.
The long-term consequences of regular overeating can be serious. Weight gain to the point of obesity can increase your chances of getting cancer and lead to other chronic health problems.
During the day hormones are released that make your levels of tiredness and hunger rise and fall. If you overeat, this rhythm is disturbed and you may have problems falling asleep.
The good news is that there are ways of stopping this bad habit.
Be aware of your portion sizes. Processed food can easily lead to overeating and should preferably be avoided.
Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. They are full of fibre, which will keep you filled longer and prevent you from snacking between meals.
Use a smaller plate, which will help to control the size of your portions.
Avoid distractions like your phone or the television while you’re eating. Be aware of your food and when you have had enough.
Eat slowly and put your fork down between bites. This will give your stomach enough time to register when it’s full.
Drink water before, during and after a meal.
Plan your meals ahead and write down everything you eat. You will be surprised to see how much food or snacks you eat without thinking about it.
Store left-overs. Do not leave food standing around. You need to eliminate the temptation to take a few more bites. Fill your larder with healthy options.
Find other ways of relieving stress. Exercise regularly and spend time with good friends.
Avoid alcohol because it will make you feel hungry even if you are not really hungry.
Surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you as far as food is concerned. You can support and inspire each other.
Get to know yourself and identify the triggers that make you overeat time after time. When you’ve become more alert to this, you will be able to take action and do something more constructive, such as yoga or walking.
If you have already tried everything but are still struggling with overeating, you may possibly be suffering from a binge-eating disorder. In this case it would be better to see a doctor. He could suggest psychotherapy, refer you to a dietician, or prescribe medication such as antidepressants or appetite suppressors.