Overly full—that Thanksgiving Day, pull your maternity pants out, kind of full—can be uncomfortable. And, unhealthy! Overeating can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, derailing your diet and setting you down a dangerous path. Understanding why can help set it straight:
1. You mindlessly eat.
Many are not aware that they’re consuming more calories than they burn because they don’t know how many calories are burned during exercise. For instance, a bottle of Tropicana fruit punch contains 170 calories. You’d have to walk for more than 40 minutes just to burn off one drink!
While exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, being aware of food’s caloric content is the most effective way to curb overeating. Research the number of calories you need each day and take steps to stay within that limit.
2. You overeat every time.
People often overeat out of habit. If you’re used to eating slightly too much, you’ve probably been overeating for a long time. How do you know? Track what you eat each day for a week. Then track the calories. Figure out if that is within the recommended amount for your weight and goals.
By recognizing that you’re eating more than you need, you can take steps toward eating more consciously. There’s a ton of apps that make tracking your food and exercise really easy.
3. You find food comforting.
Reaching for the Ben and Jerry’s after a bad day at work? You are not alone. Eating sweet foods such as chocolate causes your body to release small amounts of feel-good hormones, which can help lift your mood. Your digestive system processes sugar very rapidly, creating an immediate response. This makes people more likely to indulge.
Realize the ‘high’ you get from eating sweets isn’t long-term. A drop in energy will soon follow it. That doesn’t mean you should cut treats completely. Treat yourself for special occasions. Associating your comfort foods with positive events rather than guilt will help you control the quantity of sweets and high-fat foods you eat.
Binge eating can be a serious disease. If you think your bingeing is more than an occasional moment of weakness, consider enlisting help.