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If you’ve ever reached for another serving of that lasagna even though you feel full (it tastes so good!) or reached for that second slice of cake, congratulations. You’ve overeating.
Sometimes it’s painfully obvious that we’re overeating, but other times you might not even realize it’s happening. So why are we overeating, and how to stop overeating once and for all? Let’s dig in.
America: A Nation of Overeaters?
If you’re an overeater, the reality is that in America, you’re far from alone. In fact, we’re a nation of overeaters. More than one-third of American adults are obese. Obesity-related health conditions, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, make up some of the leading causes of preventable death in the country. In 2008 alone, the annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion. (1)
And that’s just obese individuals. When you add in the amount of people who are overweight, the percentage of U.S adults shoots up to more than 70 percent. (2)
There are a number of reasons Americans are overweight and obese. But one of the major reasons is simple: We’re eating more than ever before.
Main Causes of Overeating
The reasons so many U.S. adults are overweight or obese are varied. Too many grams of added sugar in our meals, processed foods and a lack of exercise all contribute to the epidemic. But overeating is also a major factor, and one that’s often overlooked. And while it seems pretty basic at face value — you’re eating too much food, duh — overeating causes can be a bit more complex at their core. What compels us to eat more than we mean to?
You’re responding to your habits and outside cues. If you normally settle down at 8 p.m. to catch up on your favorite TV programs and eat a few pieces of chocolate, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for chocolate even on those nights when you had a late dinner and aren’t hungry. You’ve created a habit that associates TV time with chocolate.
The same goes for external clues, like TV commercials or even just the availability of food (like snacks in the break room at work, for example). Because food used to be scarce, our bodies are designed to eat when we spot food.
And while we’re no longer foraging for food and stowing away calories for days when food isn’t readily available, our bodies haven’t changed much from those days. When we see food, our brains think, “Hey, there’s food there! Let’s eat.”
You’re eating foods that make you hungrier. Did you know that some foods are actually making you more hungry? If you’re eating foods with little to no nutritional value, particularly sugary foods, refined carbohydrates (like white bread and pasta) and artificial sweeteners, your blood sugar levels are likely to spike up, leaving you feeling hungry sooner.
Additionally, sugar activates the brain in a way unlike other foods, keeping it from feeling full. (See how else sugar destroys your body.)
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