Reasons why you Can't stop Overeating (that have nothing to do with willpower)

When we struggle with overeating, it's easy to beat ourselves up over a perceived lack of willpower or self-control. However, there are often deeper root causes behind the drive to consume excess calories. By understanding some of these underlying factors, we can implement tailored solutions to tackle over eating. 

Lack of Quality Sleep: If you're not getting enough sleep or struggling with a sleep disorder like sleep apnea or untreated narcolepsy, your body produces excess levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Sleep deprivation also throws off blood sugar regulation, leading to increased hunger the next day. If you suspect any sleep issues, discuss your symptoms with your provider to see if a sleep study may be beneficial. If you struggle with getting enough hours of sleep, try creating a structured sleep routine to implement every night. We recommend avoiding screen time at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime. Try reading, going for an evening walk, listening to binaural beats, or guided meditation to unwind before your regular sleep time. If you are used to going to sleep very late, you may need to set small goals, such as moving your bedtime back in 20-30 min. increments. Avoid looking at the clock if you struggle with insomnia in order to prevent anxiety from not being able to fall asleep in time. 

Stress and Anxiety: Have you noticed yourself eating quickly and mindlessly during stressful, anxious times? When we're stressed, our bodies are in fight-or-flight mode. Overeating temporarily activates the calming rest-and-digest response by expanding the stomach and diaphragm to stimulate the vagus nerve. However, this is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Try implementing soft belly breathing to engage the parasympathetic nervous system instead. Eat mindfully while connecting with loved ones. We recommend taking moments throughout the day to pause and focus on your breathing, as well as before you begin eating your meals. 

Nutrient Deficiencies: If your body is malnourished and lacking in vital micronutrients, you may experience excessive hunger as it attempts to compensate. Focus on eating a colorful, nutrient-dense diet. Work with a practitioner to identify any deficiencies and optimize gut health for better absorption.

Undereating/Eating at odd Times: Not replenishing your body properly with regular balanced meals, especially after intense exercise can lead to excessive hunger and snacking later on. Be sure to rehydrate, replenish electrolytes (we love LMNT electrolyte drinks), and consume balanced meals and snacks tailored to your activity levels. We recommend including a protein (at least the size of your palm), complex carbohydrate/healthy starch, and some type of healthy fat with each meal in order to keep blood sugars stable and create balance. 

The first step is increasing awareness around your personal overeating triggers. Then work with our integrative team, including our registered dietitian Ruben Lespron, to implement sustainable lifestyle strategies to curb overeating at its roots.


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