We’ve all been there: we went through a lot of stress and sleepless nights because of our newborn and so we chose to comfort ourselves with a big bucket of ice-cream. Hectic schedules and taking care of our children can often make us feel like nobody understands our troubles or we simply don’t feel like talking about it.
When you experience a burn-out of any kind, it’s easy to form a habit of binge-eating in front of a TV. And then you fall into a vicious circle and feel terribly guilty after the third bag of chips.
Poor nutrition causes feelings of fatigue, depression, and nervousness. Overeating is a direct consequence of an unbalanced emotional state or a long-term unhealthy behavior. Most frequently, our bodies try to cope with constant changes in blood sugar levels and hormonal imbalance, making it harder for a person to be productive, focused, and lose weight.
What are you hungry for? Read on to find out what causes overeating and how to deal with it.
Stress is taking its toll
High stress levels are the most frequent reason for emotional overeating as we use food to cope with anxiety. Researchers from Harvard explained the connection between increased levels of cortisol and disbalance of insulin levels – and food cravings most people experience after going through a stressful period.
When we experience short-term stress, we’re likely to lose our appetites. But when we’re exposed to it on a daily basis, overeating becomes a system for coping. Low blood sugar caused by rigorous diets, skipping meals, or poor nutrition is the reason why your body craves high-fat and sugary foods.
See Also: 9 Ways We Can Reduce Our Stress Level
Physical activity puts you back on track
When we feel low or depressed, it’s most probably due to a drop in serotonin levels. This is caused by lack of sleep or when we exhaust ourselves with great amounts of work, without leisure time or activities that bring us pleasure.
Instead of reaching for comfort food for a quick fix, try committing to some sort of physical activity. Exercising releases serotonin which is responsible for maintaining an optimal sleeping cycle, regulating mood and appetite. It is also a great way to handle stress, promote good mental health, and make that “feel good“ feeling stick for a while.
Try yoga and meditation as they will increase your metabolism, help you tranquilize and relax, and become more aware of your body and its needs. Jogging and cycling are also great options, as well as power walking. Consider using a body tracker app to measure real progress and motivate yourself, as scales won’t reflect your success. Muscles weigh more than fat so you might be seeing higher numbers on the scale when in fact – you are stronger and fitter than before.
Don’t eat your emotions
Over a longer period of time, overeating can shut off the hormone that signals when we’re full which is a certain path to obesity, a recent study has shown. By repeatedly consuming excess calories, our body becomes overwhelmed and so cells stop producing uroguanylin, responsible for telling us we’re full.
This can be regulated with a workout regime and mindful eating. By shifting your perspective gradually, you can start perceiving food as precious fuel for your body – not a way to cope with negative emotions.
Focus on your calorie intake and keep a food journal to control your portions. Analyze the reasons you feel the need to overeat.
Is it triggered by some emotionally heavy situation you’ve recently experienced? Do you feel the lack of love from your closest ones? By mapping out your problems, you can focus on handling them more effectively instead of using food as a substitute.
Understand your body’s needs
Your cravings are indicators of the nutritional deficiency your body is experiencing. Whether you feel like eating something sweet and creamy, or extremely salty – you’re most likely to reach out to simple carbs (i.e. plain sugar) as they penetrate your blood stream almost immediately, giving you a nice sugar rush or feeling of fullness.
However, there are healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, your body lacks magnesium. A healthy alternative to milk chocolate is raw cacao, fruits, nuts, or seeds. If you feel like eating bread or pasta, you need nitrogen which can also be found in high protein foods (e.g. fatty fish, meat, or beans). If you crave for salty foods, you need chloride and silicon which are best consumed with goat milk, nuts, and cashews.
When you consume too much sugar, your body gets addicted to it. Don’t cut off all the sugar at once but do it gradually: your body will go through withdrawal and it will be exhausting. Drink lemon water to get rid of toxins and increase your liquid intake.
With effort and devotion, you can beat food cravings and ensure a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Your body is a temple so treat it with respect.
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Author: Nicole Noël
Travel and Lifestyle #blogger. Salsa lover and yoga aficionado.