We’ve all been there. Binged at the buffet. Gorged on the ‘Big Brekkie’. Eaten the entrée, main and dessert(s), and ended up feeling so uncomfortably full that we have to unbutton our jeans. So what are the effects of overeating and more importantly, how do we stop?
I do it all the time. And regret it later. So I enlisted the help of IsoWhey Dietitian Belinda Reynolds to explain exactly why we (or I) do it. And she had all the answers…
Q. How long does it take for our brain to register that our tummy is full?
A. “There are multiple factors that interact whilst we are eating, to ultimately result in us registering that we are full. These can include mechanical factors, such as stretching of the stomach, biochemical factors like the release of certain hormones and neurochemicals that tell our brain we don’t need to eat any more, and psychological/emotional factors, which can cause us to eat/not eat due to other issues such as the need for emotional fulfilment, stress, eating addiction etc.”
Q. Why are we satisfied eating some foods – and binge on others?
A. “The above factors can be influenced by the type of food we are eating. For example, highly palatable/sweet foods that are high in sugar are found to be less ‘satisfying’ in regards to hunger. This results in a greater likelihood of over-consumption. Whilst foods higher in fluid content, fibre, good fats and protein tend to be better for increasing feelings of fullness. Although those that are ‘addicted’ to sweet and/or salty foods may find that they don’t find these foods satisfying in the sense that it does not satisfy their craving for the bad foods they are addicted to!”
Q. What other reasons are there for overeating?
A. “The time that it takes for the brain to register our ‘fullness’ can certainly be one reason why people overeat – and the speed at which we eat can therefore also play a role. If you eat slowly and give your body the best opportunity to register that you are in fact eating, not only will you likely feel satisfied sooner, but you are less likely to experience discomfort after you eat because digestion will be functioning better.”
Q. How can we slow down our urge to demolish food?
A. “The act of chewing effectively – plus ensuring that your mind isn’t in a thousand other places – ensures that all of the digestive secretions and mechanical actions required for efficient and complete digestion have a real fighting chance at working optimally!”
“So don’t inhale your food while on the run – not only are you more likely to overeat, you’re less likely to get the goodness out of your food, and more likely to experience indigestion.”
Q. What are the physical effects of overeating on our body?
A. “Discomfort will certainly be one of the first signs of overeating. We can also be left feeling sluggish as the body shifts its focus toward digesting that great big meal, and as a result other areas don’t receive the same amount of attention. This means we can feel more like laying down for a snooze as opposed to being productive.”
“Sleepiness in the hours following the meal can also be the result of blood sugar fluctuations, as an excessive release of insulin due to an influx of sugar into the body can see a resultant plummet in blood sugar that makes us lethargic and looking for sugar all over again to perk us up.”
“Eating large amounts of unhealthy or over-processed, nutrient-depleted foods can also result in low grade inflammation throughout the body and brain which can leave you feeling foggy headed and potentially a little grumpy.”
Tips to stop overeating
Forget strict diets. Belinda’s tips are scientifically backed…
“One of the first things I would recommend is ‘mindful eating’. This includes taking the time to sit down and eat properly. Enjoy the texture and flavour of your food and effectively chew each mouthful at least 20 times. Enjoying each one of those mouthfuls will help you to appreciate the act of eating more, and achieve greater satisfaction from meals.”
Help Your Digestion
“Some other interesting tips include a short, 5 minute meditation prior to meals to ensure that your stress response is switched off, so that the body can focus on digestion. You can also try gargling water until your eyes water! It sounds strange, but this also helps to switch on the proper digestive processes so that your body is more focused on eating and registering when you are full.”
“Make sure that you are eating healthy meals that you enjoy. If you are forcing down food that you don’t really like, you may be prone to seeking out something you find tastier at the end of the meal.”
“Drink water around half an hour before the meal. This temporarily stretches the stomach and can help to improve feelings of fullness.”
“Ensure that you only put the correct serving on your plate – don’t tempt yourself with a massive serving of food. Pack away left overs so that you aren’t as likely to go back for seconds. If you feel like you need more food, wait 10 minutes, and re-evaluate your desire for more, you may find it subsides.”
“Include protein at each meal. Research shows that eating a protein-rich breakfast will assist in controlling calorie intake throughout the day as your appetite is better regulated. Furthermore, protein-rich meals and snacks throughout the rest of the day will also assist in maintaining satiety – you will feel satisfied longer.”
“The recommended daily intake of protein is:
- 46g/day for women and 64g/day for men aged 19-70
- 57g/day for women and 81g/day for men aged over 70.
“This equals approximately 15-25 percent of total energy in the diet, or roughly two serves for women and two and a half serves for men.”
Nourish Your Body Wisely
“The release of certain digestive juices relies upon having good nutrition – just like every other process in the body, the production of these acids and enzymes relies on vitamins, minerals and amino acids. For this reason you must ensure that you are nourishing your body correctly. Bitter herbs and foods can also help to stimulate the release of digestive enzymes so that food is digested better.”
“While you are working at getting your digestive health back on track, some individuals find that taking digestive enzymes with meals can assist in supporting the digestion process to prevent discomfort that results from eating.”
“Probiotics – or good food bacteria – are also useful as they assist in the fermentation and digestion of certain fibre types, plus they help to maintain an environment in the intestines that is better for nutrient absorption. For example calcium and magnesium require an acidic environment to be absorbed properly, and the good bacteria in the gut produce beneficial acids which assist in maintaining this local acidity. Because good bacteria also influence the release of certain appetite and metabolic hormones, they may also help to assist the body in regulating food intake and metabolism. So consider taking a probiotic, and eat a diet rich in fibre that helps to support the growth and function of these friendly microbes!”
Do you overeat? What do you do to try to prevent yourself from overeating? Tell us in the comments box below.