Why Do We Overeat?
A lot of factors go into why, we as people, overeat. Having some idea of our behaviors is helpful in order to solve our problem and try to do better with it. Researchers recently did a study that looked at the effect of 3 common overeating triggers… Alcohol- Lack of Sleep- and TV.
The study found that alcohol had the strongest effect on food consumption, followed by sleep deprivation. Watching television had the least strongest effect of the 3 triggers. The effect of alcohol was double; yes I said double, that of sleep deprivation, which was double the effect of watching television.
Well, it turns out that all 3 behaviors lead to an increase in circulating ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates your appetite. So, there is a biological foundation behind our weakened resolution when these lifestyle factors are in play. The scenario could be characterized by biologically unnecessary appetite stimulation paired with a heightened response to environmental food cues, which causes us to overeat!
The authors of this study discussed that with all 3 of these triggers combined- this promotes an increase in acute caloric consumption. These lifestyle patterns are not merely correlated with obesity but likely contribute to it by encouraging excessive eating.
Obviously not everyone eats in front of the TV and many people indulge in alcohol only occasionally. These folks don’t have a problem to solve though. It’s when these types of habits become a lifestyle that they become important factors in adding and maintaining those extra pounds.
If you think you have either of these lifestyle habits going on, then 1) limiting TV time and 2) limiting the number of episodes per week you indulge alcohol, should be obvious goals. Avoiding being sleep-deprived is more complicated, but trying to arrange your schedule to get a full 7- to 8 hours of sleep per night, is a good place to start (or adding a regular nap to make up some of the difference).
Mindless Eating comes into player here. Mindless eating is taking that extra time to actually enjoy your food that you’re eating- without all those multitasking duties that everyone does. So, instead of watching TV or reading the newspaper during a meal, actually sit and chew your food thoroughly and enjoy your meal. This way, you become more aware of how much you’re eating and become full faster.