An estimated 2.8 million people in the United States have binge-eating disorder. Even without a formal diagnosis, countless people find themselves overeating.
It can be frustrating to feel out of control of the way you eat. You may not understand why it’s happening to you. But there are many reasons why people experience compulsive eating, one of which may explain why you do it.
Here are seven of the most common reasons why people overeat.
1. Your Portion Sizes Are Too Big
How your food is served can determine if you’ll overeat.
It’s no secret that American restaurants have huge portions — 92 percent of them are oversized. When you have a huge helping on your plate, there’s a better chance you’ll overeat because it’s there and on your plate.
You can take control of this situation by serving yourself proper portions as part of an all-around healthy lifestyle.
2. Your Body is Confused
Our lives are busy and stressful these days. You find it hard to commit to a daily routine when your schedule is so jam-packed. Your daily diet is affected because of this, too.
When you eat on the go or at random times throughout the day, you’ll confuse your internal systems. Namely, your digestive system won’t know it’s time to process the nutrients with which you’re nourishing your body. As such, it will take longer for it to tell you that you’re full and don’t need to eat anymore.
That lag between signals can cause you to overeat in the meantime. You can overcome this by sticking to a more regular eating schedule, though.
3. You Have Too Much Variety
Every now and then, you have to give into your cravings. There’s a science behind why we crave the things we do.
In many cases, it all comes down to a variety of flavors. Perhaps you have a bite of something sweet, then crave something savory. If you have this type of mix on your plate, you’re likely to eat more as you switch between flavors.
That’s because food loses its palatability over time. If you have a plate with one type of food on it, you’ll eat less. It won’t taste as good after a while.
But if you have different flavors that you can switch between, you’ll eat more. Swapping back will improve the way it all tastes, so you’ll probably overeat.
4. You’re Distracted
People who watch TV while they eat are 45 percent more likely to be obese.
There’s a reason for this — they’re eating while they’re distracted, which is one of the major overeating causes.
As previously noted, your meal will grow less palatable the more you eat it. But when you’re distracted, this signal won’t go off in your brain. Instead, you’ll keep eating even if you don’t really want — or need — to do so.
On that note, distractions keep you from realizing that you feel full. You’ll keep nibbling on your meal until you realize that you have overeaten.
5. Your Diet is Unfulfilling
Processed foods don’t provide your body with the nutrients it needs. But because you eat processed carbs and refined sugars, that’s what your body will crave. If you skip your veggies, your body will never ask you to eat them.
As such, you might overeat because your body isn’t getting the nutrients you need to feel full. So, you tuck into a bag of chips or box of cookies, eat them all and still feel hungry. That’s because your body does need more — it wants proper nutrition, not more snacks.
If you find yourself overeating because you feel hungry, you might just need to switch up your diet. Add healthier options, such as proteins and healthy fats to help yourself feel full and satiated.
6. You Drink Alcohol, Then Eat
When you drink, you might overeat — and that happens for several reasons.
Firstly, your defenses will be down when you feel intoxicated. You will impulsively eat and give into cravings you might otherwise ignore.
Some studies show that, when you’re under the influence, food tastes better, too. That’s why you can’t stop after, say, one slice of pizza. It tastes too good to ignore.
Finally, booze mutes your body’s ability to monitor its own signals. This phenomenon is called interoception. Without it, you might overeat while drunk — you’ll miss the sign that you’re full and no longer need to nosh.
7. You’re Sad or Stressed Out
Sometimes, we search for something other than food in our overeating sessions.
Certain foods do create a sense of calm or temporary happiness. If you’ve ever eaten a Thanksgiving turkey and felt blissed out afterward, it’s because the food includes tryptophan. This element can help fight depression and anxiety.
But reaching for a snack because you’re sad, lonely or stressed out will only give you temporary relief. And using food as a coping mechanism will only cause you to overeat.
So, force yourself to think about why you want to order pizza or grab the ice cream in the freezer. If it’s because you’re feeling something you don’t like, food won’t fix it. Try writing in your journal, meditating or exercising to feel better instead.
Learn Not to Overeat
Now that you know why people overeat, it’s time to pinpoint the reason for habit and work from there. We can help you, too — our program can help you fight cravings and feel your best. Learn more on our website or contact us today to get started.