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Good SP article about how to avoid overeating

Saturday, November 03, 2018


Below I am just citing or putting into my own words the parts that appealed to me most of the article by Erica Florentine.

*Overeating can be addictive in the same way certain substances can be addictive. According to the study, overeating can trigger the same feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing the chance that the act will become habitual.

1. Overeating Is Often Used as A Coping Mechanism to deal with overwhelming emotions.
Including sadness, frustration, joy and more. (..., author also refers to HALT; Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired).
"Other common reasons why adults and kids eat are boredom and/or frustration,"

Because of this psychological component behind overeating, it's important to pay close attention to your feelings if you want to conquer the urge,

2. Snacking (And In Turn, Overeating) Can Be Addictive

Snackers beware—munching on your favorite sweet, salty or crunchy foods can be addictive. Why? According to Maidenberg, the act of snacking is pleasurable to your senses. It stimulates the brain's reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine, and releases opioids in the brain, sending signals that it needs more. To put it into context, Maidenberg says this pattern is similar to how the body responds to addictive drugs.

3. Classifying Foods as "Good" Or "Bad" Can Result In Overeating
Elizabeth Babcock, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Babcock Counseling & Therapy Services in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, discussed this notion in her book, "Why We Overeat and How To Stop": If you're one to classify foods as "good" and "bad," you might very well be triggering yourself to overeat.
"Distilling it to emotionally-loaded and inaccurate terms like 'good' and 'bad' has actually left many of us feeing defiantly resistant to nutritious foods, and longing for the very foods that usually leave us feeling miserable in the end. It's an oddly backwards pattern of thought," Babcock explains.
Maidenberg also suggets avoiding the term "clean eating." "What is the opposite, dirty eating?" Maidenberg tells SparkPeople. "That is polarized thinking and inevitably leads to feelings of guilt and shame and being judgmental of yourself."

Babcock explains that instead of placing these "value judgments" on foods, you should instead give foods descriptions. If a food is something you deem as healthy, for example, you might speak of it as something that makes your body stronger or makes you feel better physically and emotionally.

4. Avoiding Overeating Can Mean a Lower BMI

On the flip side of overeating and indulging comes the act of mindful eating, or intuitive eating. The idea here is that you're mindfully assessing when and what you're consuming before actually doing so. By acing intuitive eating, you could be doing great things for your body. For one, according to Maidenberg, more than 25 studies show those who are mindful about what and when they eat have a lower body mass index. Such studies have also found that these individuals who practice intuitive eating also have fewer eating disorders and better cholesterol levels, among other benefits, Maidenberg adds.

How does one become an intuitive eater? "The objective is to teach skills so that adults and kids learn to make good, balanced decisions about their eating behavior independently, intuitively and mindfully," Maidenberg explains. "We all become distracted when we eat. With distractions we often don't recognize how much food we're consuming [and], because of this, we end up eating mindlessly."

According to Maidenberg, some mindful ways to focus on the food you're eating include eating slowly, taking time to appreciate every bite and being aware of all tastes, aromas, textures and consistencies; eating in a setting that enhances concentration and focus on food, such as a quiet, stress-free area; being aware of and eliminating distractions, including TV, computers, phones and the like; sitting down when eating; and being in tune to serving sizes of both meals and snacks.

5. Properly Guiding Your Thoughts Can Prevent Overeating

According to Babcock's book, in addition to the "good" foods versus "bad" foods notion, the way in which you talk to yourself about food options and think about foods in general can make a difference in the choices you end up making.
"We have many sabotaging thoughts that help us rationalize why we do what we do, such as 'It's just a little piece,' 'I'll make up for it later,' 'I'll never be good at this,' 'I want it,' 'It's a special occasion,' etc.," Maidenberg says.

The important thing to remember is that thought are not facts, Maidenberg adds, and they can be overcome. "Identify what your thoughts are and note which ones are most prevalent and how you weave back and forth between them," Maidenberg suggests. "Respond to them instead of giving into them."
Babcock recommends remaining mentally focused on your health and wellness goals and on the life you want to lead. By doing this, over time it will become second nature to make smart food choices.

"We can't help but want more," Maidenberg says. "Our body is just naturally reacting. Planning ahead is the best strategy to combat over-snacking."
She recommends focusing on portion control by creating your own snack packs with snack-size, resealable bags in advance of leaving the house.

6. Many times friends and family can unintentionally give you food pressure, triggering a reaction to indulge, according to Babcock. (...)

"The best defense is to practice more assertiveness," Babcock says.

7. Stress Can Lead To Overeating And Overeating Can Lead To Stress

Those who have a tendency to overeat many times are triggered to do so because of stress, as they rely on food to self-soothe and manage stress, according to Babcock's book. On the other side of the coin, overeating can lead to stress, as after compulsively eating the stress and anxiety will increase and eventually become accompanied by feelings of guilt, shame and remorse, according to Babcock.

"The more stressed you are, the more intensely you will crave emotional relief and the less discriminating you will become about how you achieve it." Babcock says. "It will become increasingly difficult to think creatively about options that are safer—and ultimately more satisfying—than overeating."
The key to success here, according to Babcock, is setting up a lifestyle that results in minimal stress, where possible.

Babcock says that a good way to avoid overeating and its subsequent consequences is to avoid trigger situations as much as possible. "We tire quickly when we have to work hard at self-control with food, so we need to try to avoid circumstances that require it."

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SEAGLASS1215
    Many times I am alone during a meal, and I have tried to do the "intuitive eating" but I feel so uncomfortable without at least having a book to read while eating. I'm going to work on this harder, though, because I am often quite distracted when eating (driving, working, reading, TV, etc) that my meal is gone and I wonder where it went and I still feel "hungry" even though I had enough.
    687 days ago
  • LINDA7677
    Thanks for sharing
    687 days ago
    Great summary. The part that really hits home for me is I must avoid sugary foods and anything processed. Whole foods seem to satisfy me more so I am less likely to overeat.
    687 days ago
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