“One of the main reasons why people eat, even when they are not hungry, they say, is ‘out of habit.’ We often snack out of habit because our brains associate certain activities or times of day with eating, creating a conditioned response to reach out for food even when we’re not truly hungry. For example, we may grab something to eat while watching a movie or as a source to pass time when there’s nothing else to do! Actually, do maintain a count of the total number of potato chip packets you’ve opened during moments of boredom, and that might be one reason why the extra pounds are not coming off! There are a whole lot of other reasons you eat when you are not really hungry, and you need to eliminate them to shave off extra calories and lose weight.
1. When Meal Timings Aren’t Set or Fixed:
When meal and snack timings aren’t fixed, it would lead to mindless grazing throughout the day. Without set eating times, it becomes easier to constantly reach for food without any real hunger cues, leading to overeating. This mindless grazing can disrupt the body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, making it challenging to lose weight. Do eat food at set meal and snack timings for better dietary control.
2. Impaired Body Signals:
Studies say people with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance have impaired body signals, with leptin dysfunction (a hormone involved in appetite control that sends satiety signals to the brain), and often do not feel satisfied even after they have eaten sufficiently. The MRI scans on people with insulin resistance show that the hunger centre of the brain continues to glow long after they have eaten! To improve insulin resistance, cut down or eliminate added sugar completely from the diet and switch to foods with low GI and a diet rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.
3. Stress/Anxiety Can Trigger Cravings and Amplify Non-Physiological Hunger:
Cortisol is the hormone which the body secretes when under stress and this hormone increases cravings for sugary and high-calorie foods and also amplifies non-physiological hunger. A lot of us seek comfort in food to calm jittery nerves, and it’s called emotional eating. Combat stress using strategies other than food, such as walking or exercise (releases endorphins which are natural stress busters), engaging in hobbies or activities, listening to music or dancing, or simply breathing in fresh air!
4. To Fight Boredom/Loneliness:
How many of us turn to food to fight boredom and loneliness? Boredom eating can lead to mindless eating and eventually weight gain. Engaging in hobbies and finding social support can help combat boredom and loneliness.
5. Easy Access To Hyperpalatable Foods At Home:
Hyperpalatable foods are those that have been engineered to appeal exceptionally to our taste buds, often by combining high levels of sugar, fat, and salt in the right proportion. From chocolate, ice cream, doughnut, nachos, burger, chips, candies, cakes and pastries, fries – any food that is high in sugar/salt/fat and that people may find difficult to stop eating is hyperpalatable. In today’s world, these foods are inexpensive and easily accessible, and our brains have been wired through the evolutionary process to seek out such foods repeatedly as a survival strategy in an attempt to hoard more and more calories, in case food becomes scarce in the future. But in today’s world, overconsumption of hyperpalatable foods is one of the main reasons behind the obesity epidemic the world over. The solution to this problem is to identify hyperpalatable foods and replace them with whole, minimally processed foods. Also, avoid stocking hyperpalatable foods at home because when they are within easy reach, you are more likely to binge on them. The “out of sight, out of mind” policy would work well here. Also read: “7 Eating Habits To Follow While on a Weight Loss Journey.”
6. You Are Just Thirsty:
According to experts, many individuals often confuse their body’s signals of thirst as hunger pangs. This mix-up occurs because the sensations associated with thirst can closely resemble those of hunger, leading to excessive eating or snacking when the body actually just needs some water! This confusion can arise because the hypothalamus, responsible for regulating both hunger and thirst, occasionally sends similar signals for both needs. Dehydration can create sensations similar to hunger – such as stomach rumbling or a sense of emptiness in the stomach! Ideally, drink at least 8 glasses of water every single day to avoid getting dehydrated and fight feelings of non-existent hunger. Also read: “Why Water is Necessary For Weight Loss?”
7. Having Food Just Because Others Are Eating:
Social circles do influence our eating habits, choice of food, etc. Studies say people eat differently when alone and while eating out with friends/colleagues/in a business meeting. People do tend to eat more with peer pressure. When trying to lose weight, it’s important to not get influenced by others eating habits and choice of food, and also do find ways to politely decline food when not really hungry.
8. Visual Cues From Cooking Shows and Social Media Posts:
The cookery shows on television, short cooking videos on instagram, detailed videos on youtube, can act as strong visual cues and stimulate intense cravings. Such cues can lead to mindless snacking in the absence of real hunger. Our sincere advice is to avoid getting overly stimulated by the visual cues of food on social media and cookery shows because excessive exposure to such content can trigger cravings and a desire for unhealthy or indulgent foods, potentially leading to overeating or poor dietary choices.
Summing up, as Rati had mentioned in one of her instagram videos, write down your food triggers that lead to overeating and work on eliminating them one by one. And to lose weight successfully, subscribe to the Rati Beauty app for detailed diet plans.