By Marli Naidoo
The combination of cooler weather and the Covid-19 lockdown results in many people spending more time in front of the fridge and food cupboard, eating more than is necessary. Boredom or habit can cause us to overeat, but there are many other reasons as well.
When we don’t eat regularly, we confuse our bodies. When we skip meals on a regular basis, or just eat on the run, our bodies don’t know when it is time to eat, and the signals that switch on the necessary functions to digest your meal and to process nutrients, are absent. When you do eat, this leads to your body taking longer to transfer the neuro-signals to tell your brain that you are satiated. You will then eat more than is necessary. It will therefore be to your advantage to establish a more regular eating pattern. Eat the same time every day, and make sure that you don’t skip meals. You will teach your body when to expect food, which will result in optimal digestion and burning of fat.
The foods you eat might possibly not contain the necessary nutrients. If you overindulge in refined sugars and highly processed carbohydrates, your body will keep on asking for more. These foods do not provide your body’s needs but your body asks for more, in search of the necessary vitamins and minerals. By replacing these foods with high quality grains, vegetables, proteins etc. you will provide your body with what it craves, you will stay satiated for longer and be less inclined to overeat.
Sometimes we are inclined to weigh or measure our food, or we are aware of the second helping which we are used to. This teaches us to measure food in amounts, instead of truly experiencing and enjoying it. Focus on the aroma and taste of the food, the flavours and the enjoyment thereof. You will stop eating more easily when you are no longer so hungry and cannot enjoy the food as much.
Another reason why people overeat is stress and to gain a feeling of comfort and relief from the food and the action of eating. Become more aware of your trigger: what causes you to experience negative emotions that leads to overeating? Is there a pattern? Make a list of alternative activities or tasks when you want to reach out for food. Take a walk, phone a friend, read a book, or drink a cup of tea.
Place notes in the food cupboard that remind you that it is not worth the effort to gain temporary relief in the shape of food. “You are strong enough to say no”, “Your problems might appear big now, but food won’t solve them. You will only be more depressed when you have overeaten or eaten the wrong food”, are two examples of notes you can write.
Place a mirror where ever you are eating. It has been found that people who can see themselves eating are inclined to eat less.
Whatever may be in your food cupboard, you will eat. Fill your cupboard with healthy foods.
Don’t strive toward losing weight, but toward a healthy lifestyle and body.
It sometimes happens that we continue eating because we are interpreting our thirst the wrong way. We keep on eating to get rid of a feeling of dehydration. Teach yourself to make a distinction between hunger and thirst by drinking enough water, and first drinking a glass of water when you feel like nibbling on something unhealthy.
Don’t be shy to ask for help. It’s not easy to overcome bad habits by yourself. There are councillors and doctors or dietitians who can walk the road with you, and in do so doing help you make better food choices.
Psychology of eating: https://psychologyofeating.com/4-reasons-why-we-overeat/
Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-do-we-overeat/
Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325258#tips-to-prevent-overeating