Overeating has many causes, and solutions

Published 7:20 am Friday, June 13, 2003

By Staff
What is one of the main reasons that many of us are overweight?
Nearly half of Americans are overweight and that does not count the number of Americans who are considered obese. So why do we overeat and what are ways we can stop it? Let's look at these questions and possible solutions.
Emotional Eating:
Whether it be sadness, anxiety, anger, stress, etc. many of us turn to food to help comfort our problems. Food has a way of helping us forget for a moment what it is that is bothering us. And because we get this temporary great feeling from food we turn back to the food the next time we need to feel better. Does it really make the situation better and go away? No! Food is only a psychological temporary fix. After you have eaten that pint of ice cream or bag of potato chips you then feel guilty because of the way you feel from binging. Instead of binging next time you are upset, look at the reasons why and determine what you can do to solve it by not turning to food. Confront your emotions maybe by writing down your thoughts, talking to someone or going for a run to release some energy. If you know you are going to be in a stressful situation or have certain times of the day that are more stressful than others, be prepared. Eat something healthy before that stressful time happens. By turning to junk food you will only have a short-term fix and in the long run it will only add to your problems.
Many people end up overeating when they are trying to diet. They want to lose weight so they cut their calories by so much that they are starving themselves. By starving themselves there comes a time where they are so hungry that they end up giving in and eating everything in sight. After stuffing ourselves we are mad at what we have done and the cycle starts again. In the end we do not end up losing any weight and in reality we probably gain a few unwanted pounds. Like I have said before if you are going to start a diet it needs to be one you can do for a lifetime. Instead of doing such a drastic diet choose to eat healthier. Know when it is time to stop eating and eat when you are hungry not just because you are bored.
I Am Going To Stop Overeating Tomorrow:
How many of us have said that we have to stop eating so much but then someone offers us that delicious looking chocolate cake and ice cream (keep in mind we are already full from that rib dinner we had) and we give in and say to ourselves, "I can have this now and I will stop overeating tomorrow"? Most, if not all, of us have done this. The problem is not that we splurged one day and we are more careful the next - the problem becomes that we splurge one day, say we will be better the next, but then the next day keeps becoming the next and the next and we keep overeating. Do not deprive yourself – do splurge every now and then. By totally depriving yourself you tend to want it even more and eat too much of it. If you are at a social gathering do not just accept food because everyone else is eating. Try keeping a food log of everything you eat in a day and it will show you just how quickly all of those calories add up. Just remember that when you say you will start eating better tomorrow chances are you will keep on saying it.
Many people overeat everyday because they have nothing else to do. You have already had your dinner and are not hungry. You are watching television and see a commercial for food. Now keep in mind you are not hungry but the food looks good and you have nothing else to do so you go to the kitchen and make a bag of buttered popcorn. Food seems to keep people content when they have nothing else going on. Just remember that that innocent bowl of buttered popcorn can pack on several hundred unneeded calories. Tell yourself when you are full and no longer need to eat for the day and stick with it. Do something else when you feel the desire to get that extra snack - read, go to bed or take a bath. If you just cannot beat that snacking urge then go for something healthier than that leftover Chinese food.
These are just a few examples of reasons that so many people overeat. Take a real look at your eating habits and see where you can make changes. Not only can overeating lead to being overweight it can also lead to many health problems.
Thought of the week: The moment you think food is your best friend it becomes your enemy.
Amy McKean is the adult programs director at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA. She can be reached at Amckean23@wmconnect.com