Why do I overeat?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jackie Donelan FdA MBACP
14th July, 20140 Comments
It has been well documented and televised that we are a nation which is just getting fatter. There is an over abundance of fatty and sugary foods, which we are programmed to seek out, hence our appetites have gone into overdrive! This is the physiological explanation for our overeating. However have you tried dieting many times before and then ended up putting the weight back on, because food is just too tempting? If our overeating was due to physiological reasons alone, surely we would be able to diet easily and keep the weight off, so what else is going on, what about the psychological reasons for overeating?
Would you describe yourself as a comfort eater? Are you eating through hunger, or because you feel that you want it. Do you reach for that chocolate bar or slice of cake knowing it will make you feel better, but eat it mindlessly? If so, try this short exercise:
Imagine eating your ‘go-to’ comfort food, whether that be chocolate, crisps, takeaway, etc. Think about what feelings and emotions come up for you whilst you are taking each bite. Perhaps you are feeling happy, fulfilled, complete, loved; are these feelings familiar, do you recall feeling these feelings before? Perhaps you have felt this way as a child, can you visualise the setting? Or perhaps you have felt these feelings before in a particularly loving relationship? What feelings and situations does food replicate for you, what memories does it give? If that does not resonate with you, perhaps you have only ever felt these feelings whilst eating your favourite food, in which case, what is food replacing in your life? What is missing and what do you need to feel complete?
The answers to these questions may come easily, or they make take more time. Every time you reach for your ‘go-to’ comfort food, firstly think; are you eating because you are hungry? If not, why are you eating? If there is something that food is replacing in your life, how can you go about getting what you need? Can you find comfort another way; perhaps a hug from a friend or partner, or taking a brisk walk in the fresh air; try to find a way that works for you. When you understand more about the psychological reasons behind your overeating, you can take control, rather than the food controlling you.
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