Why we overeat
Beside losing weight, becoming more mindful of our eating (and overeating) habits is one of the main advantages of the Military Diet. People say adhering to the strict regime of the Military Diet forces them to rethink about when and why they eat.
So why do we overeat and gain weight in the first place?
If you’ve ever dived into a pint of Hagen Daaz when you’re feeling blue, you’ve experienced emotional eating. Emotional eating makes us feel better. It’s not about filling our stomach; it’s about filling that void inside ourselves.
Many of us know it’s easy to start eating when we’re bored, stressed or anxious. Eating gives us something to do and provides a distraction from our feelings. When we don’t feel capable of dealing with feelings, we avoid those feelings with food. Eating can be a way to stuff down uncomfortable emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or resentment. Food helps to numb the emotions we’d rather not feel in the same way alcoholics drink to numb out.
But when opening the fridge becomes our primary coping mechanism whenever we’re upset or stressed, we get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where our real feelings are never dealt with.
First off, we need to identify the triggers that make us reach for food. What situations or feelings make us eat for no reason? Allowing ourselves to sit with uncomfortable feelings and actually feel them can be scary. But even the most painful feelings subside when we give them our full attention instead of numbing with food. You learn to do this by staying mindful and connected to the present moment and what you’re feeling instead of shoving a bag of chips in your mouth.
The only way we can heal our underlying issues is by turning towards the pain and looking at it closely. No matter how we’re using food, we heal by turning towards our pain, relating to it with kindness and compassion. If you become overwhelmed or need help, consider talking to a counselor or attending an Overeater’s anonymous meeting. Both options can help you deal with painful emotions in company rather than alone. When we heal the underlying issues, we change our eating habits too, without become stuck in the pattern of eating to feel better.
Make no mistake, processed food is designed using a lot of money and research to keep you addicted. Because the more you eat, the more you spend, lining the pockets of the Doritos CEO. Food companies have perfected the art of creating addictive food through the combination of fat, sugar, salt and special flavorings. Certain foods hijack the brain’s reward center and create cravings for more. These sugary, fatty, salty food combinations are called hyperpalatables.
Processed foods like donuts, fries, sugary cereals and chips are both highly unnatural and highly addictive. Obesity, diabetes and heart attacks are all associated with a processed food diet. The convenience and price of fast food lures us into eating nutritionally empty snacks and meals. Once our brains get hooked on these food, we crave these foods and won’t feel satisfied until we get them. Food addiction is a real thing!
Americans are addicted to sugar. The sugar comes from high fructose corn syrup which is found in almost everything in the supermarket these days. We expect to find fructose in chocolate bars and sodas, but sometimes we don’t even know we’re eating fructose when it’s in bread, pizza or salad dressing. Scientists say high fructose corn syrup is as addictive as cocaine, cigarettes or alcohol. It’s the sweetener in your soda. Its in the beef of your Big Mac patty and the secret sauce. Eating high fructose corn syrup is highly pleasurable and gives you a sense of bliss, albeit short lived. The brain naturally starts to crave its next hit.
To get off the food you crave, you have to heal the brain’s reward center. Just like quitting smoking or cocaine, nobody said it would be easy. You need to replace the hyperpalatables like donuts and pizza with healthy options. Do your research and find other tips to kicking food addiction. Get help if you need it.