Are you overeating?

By Adrianna McDonald

There is no doubt food is big part of our life and we need it to function and mostly to survive. Our bodies are programmed to want to eat food and get a sense of satisfaction from eating. Each of us reacts to the desire of eating differently. We use food as a reward, emotional crutch, stress buster, for comfort and socializing or as part of a business meeting.

Very often we put the needs of others before our own whether it is because of family, friends or work. Every day we struggle to keep all these commitments and we end up neglecting ourselves. At the same time we are around food very often throughout the day and for many it may feel at times it’s hard to control our eating behavior. Constantly craving or wanting food due to stress can turn into emotional eating or even food addiction.

At some point we may struggle with overeating and use food to help curb negative emotions. However, after the binge “food rush” wears off, we are left with the guilt of indulgence.

Despite these lifestyle and mental challenges, we are also capable to train ourselves to ‘behave’ towards specific foods in specific ways. Preferences for these foods may come and go over time as new foods are introduced and exposure levels change.

Still more and more people find themselves helpless, using food, drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for emotions that feel intolerable.

Overeating and food addiction starts from uncontrolled stress combined with food restriction. If these two factors can be controlled, food addiction might also be controlled.

People require success, acknowledgement and progress as rewards for their efforts. Yet by making drastic changes in the diet which are beyond our current capabilities we call for failure and reduce the “want” for achieving the “goal”.

Researchers looking at brain function and overeating have come up with two opposite potential explanations why people overeat.

A Hyper-response:

Food gives a bigger high in overeaters than average eaters. Sugary food has a drug like effect. Generally, obese individuals say that eating food is more rewarding. And children whose parents are obese are more likely to become obese, and have a preference for high-fat food.

B Hypo-response:

Food gives less of a high to overeaters, causing them to eat more to get the same high. It’s when you have to eat a whole cake to get the same level of happiness that someone else gets with a slice of cake. Eating food triggers dopamine release in your brain, but if you don’t have many receptors you aren’t as satisfied, so you eat more. This leads to gaining weight.

In conclusion

If you’re overweight and you eat the same things as your skinny friend, chances are you’re not getting the same food high. To fix that problem you can be more conscious of eating and eat healthier food, accepting that you might not always love it (although you still can). Eventually, you will lose weight and you will get more of a high.

Weight loss is just like drug detox: The beginning really sucks, and later it sucks less, until your new normal is being a lean person.

But how much is too much and how can we control food intake?

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For most, eating 4 meals a day, minimizing your carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread etc.) to training days or few days in the week (if you don’t work out), should be enough. Our hand size is related to your body size, making it best portable and personalized way to measure and track food intake.

Female portions: (for men 2 palms, fists, cupped hands and thumbs):

  • 1 palm of protein dense foods with each meal
  • 1 fist of vegetables with each meal
  • 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods if extra carbs are to be included
  • 1 entire thumb of fat dense foods if extra fats are to be included

Bear in mind this is just the average person solution. For those who exercise reguraly and with high intensity it would not be enough. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’. We all lead diferent lives, demands of our jobs are diferent so you have to find your own solution, your own “diet”to follow and most important of all create your own healthy relationship with food. You are unique.

In my opinion, it’s wise to seek advice from a professional if you are lost or confused.

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