It's time to stop blaming yourself for overeating! We want to share with you the science behind why you overeat and provide you with a few simple strategies to stop the habit.
There are two primary reasons why we overeat The first reason we over eat is the biological need for energy and the second is a biological response to bring balance to your body chemistry and reduce stress hormones.
So many women out there blame themselves for overeating instead of recognizing that it is really just a biological signal from your body!
We’ll start with our biological need for energy. When our body is low on energy (i.e. needs food), our body produces a hormone called ghrelin, which signals our brain we are hungry.
When we forget to eat, diet, do diet cleanses or wait too long to eat our body not only produces more ghrelin our body switches into survival mode. Even though your brain knows the grocery store is around the corner.
Our blood sugar drops and our metabolism slows. Our body slows down it’s burning of calories and starts producing cortisol (stress hormone). Meanwhile it continues to produce hunger hormones..
By the time we finally eat or have food in front of us our primal “survival hunger’ has taken over and our body will literally eat anything you put in front of it.
You might find you can’t stop eating carbohydrates (your body desperately wants quick energy), you might find you can’t stop eating (you have so much ghrelin and cortisol in your system your body is having difficulty balancing it out).
Now let’s get to the second reason for overeating, as we mentioned before the stress hormone cortisol can cause hunger and signal your body to eat even when you’re not hungry.
Our bodies don’t know the difference between hunger stress (discussed above) and work stress, relationship stress or primal stress (i.e. you’re running from an animal).
Our bodies still react the same way and produce cortisol, slow our metabolism and store energy/fat in case of emergency. Biologically, our body wants to be in balance and therefore will find ways to reduce cortisol in the body.
One of those ways is food! Eating food and especially sweets and chocolate produce endorphins to counteract the cortisol.
Not only that, in order to digest our food our bodies must shift our attention from the survival body parts (lungs, heart, brain and muscles) to our digestion. Our bodies must enter a relaxed state to digest food (i.e. reducing cortisol and reducing the stress feeling.
Overeating is essentially a coping mechanism to reduce stress. We literally get to check out while eating and ignore our difficult or stressful situations temporarily.
The good news is there are ways to prevent both types of overeating from occurring.
Eat more reglarly. Eating breakfast, eating snacks and eating when you feel hungry are incredibly important to keeping your body out of survival mode.
Eat consciously. Eat without distractions, slow down your eating, and pay attention to your fullness cues.
Find other ways to cope with emotions. Notice when you’re eating when you’re not hungry. Are you stressed or upset about something? Are you having a hard time confronting a difficult conversation? Try meditating, exercising, or doing something that makes you laugh instead.
So it’s time to stop feeling guilty about overeating. Your body is just trying to tell you something and it’s time to find a different strategy than you’ve used before! You can do it, beautiful!
Hannah & Marisa
P.S. If you know anyone who would benefit from this article be sure to pass it on! And if you have any comments or suggestions please let us know! We would love to hear from you.