UNCONVENTIONAL THINKING

Why Do We Overindulge?

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We’ve all been there before. “I’ll get back on track tomorrow”, or “I’ll start my diet on Monday.” To overcome the negative effects of binging, lets talk a little bit about the physical and mental responses to overindulging. First, overindulging can mean we have an unhealthy relationship with food. This means not listening to hunger levels or satiation cues. If you are no longer eating for energy and nutrients, why are you eating? If you are strictly choosing foods for their taste, and not what they can do for you, then that could mean you’re relying on foods for the wrong reasons.

“I deserve this.” We all deserve to indulge every so often! However, be mindful of frequently using food as a way to reward or cope with certain feelings and emotions. Stress, anxiety and depression can cause people to binge because of a “reward-seeking” behavior. Before regret sets in, the brain releases these feel-good hormones in response to eating a combination of fat and sugar. Once the brain gets used to secreting dopamine while you are binging or overindulging, it can become a physical addiction. Hence, the “sugar addiction” that almost everyone has experienced before. It’s important to not allow yourself to justify your food choices based on your emotional state.

Overindulging is the opposite of mindful eating. Intuitive and mindful eating is when we are completely in-tuned with our bodies, listening to when we’re hungry, and stopping when we feel satisfied (NOT full!). Overeating in general can interfere with our natural hormone responses to tell us when we are satiated. If we continuously overeat on a daily basis, those satiation cues will eventually completely subside, leaving us with no way of listening to our body.

If you do decide to indulge, let it be an every-so-often occasion, and get back on your plan or program immediately. Don’t let it spiral into an unhealthy lifestyle and don’t wait until tomorrow or Monday morning to “pick back up”. When you wait longer, you’re giving yourself permission to get even more off track until your new start date.

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Also, don’t waste any time with negative self talk. Forgive yourself for giving into temptation and move on. Thoughts such as, “I shouldn’t be eating this” ruins the experience. If you’re going to indulge, allow yourself to at least enjoy it. Telling yourself that you’re “being bad”, or that “you can’t have that”, is also another way of making yourself feel shameful. Restriction, guilt and deprivation will only backfire. Remember, be mindful and first ask yourself if you’re even hungry. A lot of times the foods that we are craving are due to appetite and the “brain cravings” mentioned before, as opposed to actual physiological hunger.

Try keeping a food journal. Along with documenting what you’re eating, also record your hunger level as well as your emotional state. This will show you patterns that you may have otherwise not noticed. Maybe every time you give in to a donut at the office, you see that you were feeling stressed from work. You’ll be much more aware of your food choices and why you’re making those choices as well.