When it comes to weight gain, overeating can play a significant role as can the types of food that you’re putting into your body – because as the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” For example, foods that are high in carbohydrates, high in fat, and high in sugar can all cause you to pack on the extra pounds, especially if you’re not incorporating other healthier food choices into your diet, as well as getting regular exercise – two things Dr. Ghahary strongly suggests people do. We’ll get back to the do’s and don’ts of eating and physical activity soon…but first, let’s take a look at what might cause people to overeat, as well as what you can do to suppress your appetite in a healthy way.
A common eating disorder known as binge eating, for example, is characterized as consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time. To be classified as a binge eater, you must meet certain criteria which consists of eating enough food for more than one person within a 2-hour period and doing so at least once per week. Binge eating is an ongoing psychological disorder, and it is often used as a coping mechanism for individuals who may be under a lot of stress, are dealing with a lot of anxiety, have dealt with trauma, or if they are experiencing other unwanted emotions. Binge eaters often hide the fact that they partake in binge eating. For example, they will often eat late at night when no one is around and hide things like packaging and wrappers. They may also stockpile packaged foods, such as cookies, crackers or potato chips in their drawers and closets. Binge eaters also tend to have a lack of control in how much food they consume, and they also don’t know when to stop, which will lead to them feeling full to the point that they are uncomfortable. Other tell-tale signs that someone may be a binge eater is if they eat lightly or skip meals, or they may have abnormal food rituals such as chewing too much, only eating a specific type of food, or not letting different foods touch on their plate. It’s important to note that not everyone who overeats is a binger, however. In some cases, people will simply turn to food when they’re feeling sad, stressed, or lonely – the main difference between a regular overeater and someone who is a binge eater is that they don’t do it regularly. In other instances, you may happen to eat a lot of food throughout the day but not in one sitting. This, too, would not classify you as a binge eater. You’re also not a binge eater if you happen to eat a large meal at Thanksgiving or Christmas, as overindulgence during these holidays isn’t unheard of – though healthcare professionals like Dr. Ali Ghahary don’t necessarily recommend it!
If you are someone who does tend to turn to food when they’re experiencing different negative emotions but haven’t gotten to the point where you’ve become a binge-eater yet, then it’s a good idea to figure out why early on. Whether it’s due to anxiety, stress, sadness or any other reason, you should always let your physician know about any changes in mood you’re going through. In many cases, emotions such as these can be easily addressed just by having a healthier outlet other than food. For example, writing in a journal or working out both serve as great distractions. To reduce the risk of developing any mental health issues, Dr. Ghahary may also sometimes recommend that patients see a counsellor. Many counsellors use something known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a way to teach their clients different ways to analyze their thoughts and emotions, and it can be especially helpful in treating things like depression, reducing anxiety, and even treating certain eating disorders. A dietitian or nutritionist can also help guide you in the right direction.
Now that we’ve addressed the why’s of overeating, we’ve come to the what – and that’s what can you do about it? As mentioned, finding something to distract yourself with can be a great way to trick the mind into thinking about other things. However, we also need to focus more on what foods we’re putting in our bodies. Things like cookies and potato chips are easy to indulge in and overeat because they require no preparation. It’s also much easier to overeat if you skip meals. As part of your daily routine, you need to have at least 3 well-balanced meals per day. Canada’s Food Guide will tell you exactly what you need to include in your diet as well as how large your portion sizes should be. You can also find more healthy eating tips from Dr. Ghahary by clicking here. Eating healthy is one of the only ways you can really reduce your appetite in a healthy way; because when you eat the way you should, you’ll be less likely to feel hungry in between your meals, and therefore less likely to snack in between meals as well. If you are going to snack on something, then you need to make sure those are healthy choices too. There are also certain foods that can increase or decrease feelings of hunger. Foods that contain MSG, foods that are salty, as well as beverages that are high in sugar (i.e. soda or fruit juice) are more likely to make you feel hungry throughout the day. Whereas science has shown that foods that are rich in fibre and high in protein are more likely to suppress hunger; in addition, water can also decrease hunger and promote weight loss. Coffee has also been shown to have the same benefits, though there are many pros and cons when it comes to caffeine and is something you should read up on carefully. It’s also important to note that coffee shouldn’t be used as a meal replacement.