Do healthy foods encourage over eating? A recent study says yes. According
to statistics, more than 68 percent of the American population is either
overweight or obese, and the number one cause of this is overeating. "Our
perception of food has a big impact on how we consume it, and this can
be a real issue. For us, food is more than just a source of nutrition.
It's an opportunity to be social, to comfort ourselves, to celebrate
and sometimes to keep us company when we are alone or bored," says
Christopher Celio, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician with
St. Joseph Hoag Health, and the medical director of DRIVE Wellness at Western Digital Corp. Healthy
foods are no different. Recent studies have shown that when we see a food
labeled as healthy, we tend to consume larger portions. We also tend to
think that healthy foods are less filling, so we consume more.
“It truly is mind over matter,” Dr. Celio says. “A lot
of people feel guilty when consuming unhealthy foods such as cakes or
doughnuts, so they're eat less because the feeling of guilt overrides
the pleasure they get from eating the food. But when these people eat
healthier foods such as salads or fruits, they tend to eat more of them
because they perceive them as healthy, so it makes them feel good about
Our thoughts override the reality of what our body is telling us, so even
though our bodies are no longer hungry, we still continue to eat. There
are many reasons for this. Firstly, certain foods high in sugar spike
our blood sugar levels, and give us an instant burst of energy lifting
our mood. Foods such as chocolate, bread and pasta are also known to stimulate
the release of endorphins in the brain. "Endorphins are the hormone
responsible for the feelings of happiness and pleasure, so when we eat
them we feel good, and as a result eat larger quantities," Dr. Celio states.
Secondly, our stomachs have a lot of elasticity to stretch and contract
as we eat more or less. But, like a rubber band, if it is stretched too
much over time, it tends to stay that way. "The challenge for individuals
that habitually overeat is that their stomachs have stretched. As a result,
it takes more food to make them feel full so they keep eating more and
more only contributing to the weight challenges they are likely already
experiencing" suggests Dr. Celio. Being overweight increases the
risk of high blood pressure, type two diabetes, coronary heart disease,
gallbladder disease, and even some forms of cancer such as breast, colon,
kidney, liver and gallbladder cancer. It also contributes to mental illnesses
such as clinical depression and anxiety.
If you’re overweight or obese, or perhaps concerned that you may
have developed an overeating habit, talk to your doctor. "The journey
from overeating to eating just enough can be a challenging one that requires
a lot of mental focus and commitment, but your doctor can help recommend
a plan that is right for you,” Dr. Celio says. If you are a social
eater then you should avoid events that serve food after or before your
main meal. Alternatively, you can arrange to use event mealtimes as a
replacement. "Taking the time to chew your food more thoroughly is
also a great way to feel fuller faster," he suggests. Studies have
shown that people who chew more tend to drink more water with their meal
which helps them to feel fuller, faster and aids in digestion.
Have you got any great tips that help you to stop overeating? Share them
with us in the comments below.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.