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Why do we eat beyond fullness?

10 September 2011, Comments: 1

I love nachos, they are delicious and when done right can be semi nutritious. With the right balance of meat, veggies, corn cheese, light cheese, a side of guacamole and no sour cream, it’s the perfect comfort food. But as I was happily enjoying my nachos I noticed that I had hit and gone way way waaaaay beyond my “happy, I’m full point”, basically I ignored the trigger and continued eating. I notice the full feeling a few times during my nacho feast and each time I pushed it over with just one more chip. I even stopped at one point, sat back and said “I’m full” followed by “one more chip” and of course then came the question “why am I eating still when I’m full?!” a question interesting enough to warrant a blog post.

Everyone has experienced this place at one point or another… Thanksgiving (hint, hint). So why do we do it? And more importantly how do we stop it?!

The first answer is simple: honestly we overeat because it FEELS GOOD. Yup, even as our bellies are expanding, pants are unbuttoning; we continue to stuff our faces with tasty food because food releases feel good hormones which, in time, can overpower the belly pains of a fully stretched stomach. The other answer is that we are genetically designed to eat when food is there, worked out great for our hunter and gather ancestors, not so great for our fast food and computer society. Some scientists call this: ingestion analgesia and present it as just one more reason why you should not underestimate the power of food on your brain.

The second answer is not so simple. Here are some general tips:

  • First, know that it will happen SOMETIMES but doesn’t have to happen ALL the time. The key to this is developing our inner senses so that we can hear the “I’m full, stop eating” message loud and clear.
  • Second, put portions on smaller sized plates and take seconds as needed vs. adding piles of food to one plate. (lesson learned- do not eat nachos out of the box it is served in.)
  • Third, ask yourself during meals “am I full?” The first signs of fullness stop. The battle here is the little voice that says “one more bite” it never really means ONE (I speak from experience). You can even use a 1-10 scale to determine hunger levels.
  • Finally, be kind to yourself. If you overeat one time, it’s not the end of the world unless you let it be. There is always the next meal to practice right eating. So have integrity and be kind.

We spend a lot of time talking about “what” to eat but “how” we eat and “why” we eat are just as important. Start experimenting by asking your “w’s” during meals. It’s a learning experience.

Need support? Contact us for more tips or to get some coaching around right eating.


Ritu Riyat

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One response on “Why do we eat beyond fullness?

  1. […] Hunger or Craving? These cues are even more difficult to distinguish during the holidays when you are surrounded by visual food and engulfed in the smells. Maintaining a structured eating pattern can help to recognize the difference between hunger and craving, and to eat until no longer hungry rather than until full or over full. Check out the post on overeating. […]

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