1 reason we overeat (that isn’t often discussed)
In our fast-paced, fast-food obsessed culture, there are ample opportunities at any given time for us to overeat beyond what our bodies need.
You’re given a larger portion at a restaurant than you need
Your nice neighbor drops off some baked goods at your house
There are samples at Starbucks
There is a candy jar at the bank
Look around and you’ll notice dozens of examples of our culture doling out spontaneous food opportunities at every corner just begging us to veer off our eating track and having us bush wack our way back to structure. I don’t know about you but I never see green beans at the checkout aisle at a supermarket as an option for our spontaneous end-of-shopping impulse buy selection. There is no brussel sprout hut drive-thru on our way home from work. No oranges and hard boiled eggs in the vending machine at work.
Look, we know that we often eat when we’re sad, when we’re bored, when we’re stressed or for no reason at all.
Look, we know that we often eat when we're sad, when we're bored, when we're stressed or for no reason at all. Click To Tweet
But at a certain point we will have to face that our food culture is also a big part of the reason we overeat. At the very least it puts land mines in our way to create more obstacles to make it happen consistently. Food manufacturers create processed foods designed specifically to hit the “bliss point” whereby we literally can’t say no, and continue to crave certain foods throughout the day. (i.e. foods that are processed, fat, salt and sugar-laden or all of the above) Commercials are relentless in their luring us to order a late night pizza or drive to the local CVS for a pint of ice cream.
We blame ourselves for our lack of control, our lack of will power and our shame fuels urgency to make quick yet unsustainable changes that are fleeting at best only to leave us back where we started: frustrated, exhausted and hopeless.
When we recognize that this is a pervasive societal issue, it can take some of the burden off of ourselves from a moral perspective and resign ourselves to being “undisciplined.” When we realize what we’re up against we can move from shame to problem solving and action.
So, think about it for a minute. We’re stressed, we’re over-busy, we’re overcommitted and distracted and we already turn to food to provide more for us than what it possibly can give us. On top of that, the types of balanced, healthy and nutrient dense foods that our bodies truly crave and need are not as easy to find!
What I’m saying is…. of course we’re overeating!
It’s not shocking when the types of foods that food companies dole out to us are the very foods that keep us in craving and false fix mode. In turn our bodies don’t send out the correct messaging to our brains that we’re full or satisfied and we continue to eat more and more of it. We have to wade through landmines or burn holes in our wallets just to get to a whole foods or a farmers market for some healthy food.
So what can be done?
1. Stay aware. Start to notice the ways our food culture pushes unhealthy and unbalanced food options.
2. Plan plan plan. Create a roadmap of the day and anticipate challenges like back-to-back work meetings or a long drive home by pre-making some healthy snacks.
3. Practice mindful eating. Start to notice how certain foods make your body feel and which ones give you pleasure and energy. Try my free 7-day mindful eating course to start.
4. Join a CSA – support local agriculture and guarantee yourself weekly fresh produce to eat raw or to cook with.
5. Be forgiving of yourself – overeating is not a moral issue. Take each eating opportunity as a way to reset and make the choice that is best for you in that moment given your circumstances.
There continues to be many reasons we tend to eat more than our bodies need, many of which were not even discussed in this article. But we’d be remiss not to point out our culture’s complicit role in this phenomena and the irony that it’s the very same culture that dictates that we do whatever we need to do to remain in smaller bodies (even drastic, dangerous methods) and food and body shame women daily. The more we continue to be aware and proactive in our healthy pursuits, practice them daily and find efficiencies to support these endeavors the easier it will become over time.