Smart strategies to curb overeating

Cravings are normal human instinct, but if it occurs often, then it's time for some analysis to figure out that what could be the reason behind it.

Stress, lack of sleep, habitual instinct, and a strict diet are the major culprits behind overeating. As you get into the habit of eating more than you need, your body adjusts to this process (and also the excess!) by releasing a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine, in turn, encourages you to eat more. This is how we develop a food addiction, which is the major cause behind obesity and other serious ailments like diabetes, high cholesterol and the likes. Here we take you through smart coping strategies to curb overeating.

Why Do We Overeat At All?

Craving for food is a natural human instinct. While a bit of it deserves to be pampered, too much of anything isn't good. If the results of overeating start showing up on your weighing scale or on your health, then it's time to sit back and think. Identifying the major triggers behind your food cravings is the first step. We have listed the most common reasons for you.

Stress: In the modern-day lifestyle, work pressure, peer pressure, lack of sleep and other uncountable factors from unknown corners, induce stress. When our mind is not at peace, food becomes our natural refuge. It is known to have the capacity to release our happy hormones. Foods loaded with fat and refined sugar, especially escalate the secretion of these hormones. Hence, we not only eat more than we need, we are drawn towards foods that impact our weight and health in more ways than one.

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Habitual instinct: Cravings can be a routine-induced feeling and overeating can be your habitual instinct as well. It is extremely troublesome to get rid of your habits. For example, if you are in the habit of munching on something while watching TV, you cannot do without it. Once our brain gets accustomed to these habits, it automatically sends signals to our stomach and we end up craving for more.

Strict diet: When we mindlessly opt for a diet to lose weight, we end up denying our body the important nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, proteins, complex carbohydrates and the good fats. Therefore, our body gets into the craving mode and wants more carbohydrate-rich foods which are high on the caloric scale. Finally, we end up overeating.

Coping strategies

Prior to eating you have to understand the hunger scale. For example, if your next meal is on your mind it means you are hungry. So, you should eat something within an hour. An empty feeling accompanied by light-headedness means you are starving. When you are neither hungry nor full, you are satisfied. When you are feeling slightly bloated but you are still eating and the food doesn't taste good that's the sign that you are full. When you get a mild heartburn due to acidity and start feeling uncomfortable, it means you are stuffed. So, pay attention to the signals of your body while gorging on food, to prevent overeating. Here are a few more smart ways to fix the issue.

Do not skip breakfast: When you skip eating the most important meal of the day you tend to eat much more throughout the day. So, to stop unwanted cravings which result in overeating, you should not miss out on your breakfast.

Eat mindfully: Try to stay relaxed when you are eating something as stress hormones slow down your metabolism. Also, eat slowly because it takes 20 minutes for our brain to realise that the stomach is full since the time we start eating.

Include healthy food: To stop overeating, include foods such as fruits, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fish such as salmon, lean meats, olive oil and so on. Have protein in your regular diet such as egg whites, skinless chicken, etc. Other protein sources include chickpeas, black beans, soya beans (edamame), etc. These foods are low in fat, packed with protein and high in fibre.

Keep a journal: Prepare a meal plan for the week and jot it down in your diary. The next step is to write down everything that you have eaten in that particular week along with the proportion. While you tally both, you will be able to figure out where you have gone wrong. Your food journal will act as an eye-opener.

Get sufficient sleep: If you do not get 8 hours of sound sleep, and stay awake at night, your hunger hormone ghrelin is released, leading to night eating, which is not actually required for the body. Moreover, according to study, partial sleep deprivation at night contributes to insulin resistance, paving the way for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Exercise: Though it may sound a little surprising, emerging research suggests that a good way to combat the work-break munchies is exercise. This is possible because exercise helps in a more efficient regulation of your hunger hormones. In a recent study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that people who exercised after doing mental work ate fewer calories compared to those who remained sedentary after a mental work.

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