Take a look at your eating habits. Are you constantly snacking, even after eating large meals? Is it rare for you to feel full after eating meals/snacks? Here are some causes that may be triggering your impulse to overeat.
Alcohol consumption. Booze causes the brain to release a signal that makes the body think it is starving, even after you have already eaten. When consuming enough calories on a regular basis, the brain sends signals to the body that basically tells it when you no longer need to continue eating. Alcohol, however, can short circuit these signals, causing the brain to send out the wrong signal and thus make the body “think” it needs more calories. Try to cut back on alcohol consumption and see if that makes a difference in your eating habits.
Dehydration. There is a chance you’re overeating due to not drinking enough water throughout the day. Unexplained changes in appetite usually point back to dehydration. If a craving occurs, try drinking two glasses of water before reaching for your favorite snack. Wait 15-20 minutes, and then determine if you’re still hungry. Fruits and veggies are high in water content, so it could be that your diet is simply not getting enough of these; try adding a serving to each meal and see if your habits change.
Too much restriction. Be aware of what you are and aren’t putting into your body. Diets can cut calories too quickly, which results in an increased amount of cravings and feeling exhausted. Over a prolonged period of time, these diets can also reduce your metabolism. If your diet excludes certain food groups, you may not be receiving enough nutrition. And, let’s face it, the more favorite foods we deny ourselves, the more likely we are to crave them and overindulge in them later on. Rather than try a fad diet, slowly reduce the number of calories you consume and cut out high fat, high sugar processed foods instead of eliminating food groups.
Lack of sleep. When the body is deprived of sleep (as in it receives less than 5 hours each night), your leptin level will decrease. Leptin is the hormone that lets the brain know when the body is full. Sleep deprivation can also increase your level of ghrelin; this hormone tells the brain when the body is hungry. Sleep loss also contributes to higher insulin levels, which increases cravings for sugar and carbs, and the development of cortisol (the stress hormone). Try to go to bed around the same time each night and limit the amount of time on your phone or tablet.
Not eating breakfast. Eating breakfast will set the pace of your afternoon and evening; after all, it is the most important meal of the day! Opting out of breakfast can lead to stomach hunger pangs, snacking and bingeing. Start the day with eggs or oats with a scoop of almond butter. Foods that are rich in protein will help you feel full and will help you eat fewer calories during the rest of your day. It takes the body longer to metabolize protein than simple carbs, so you will feel fuller longer.
Being stressed. Stress eating isn’t a myth, folks. When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol, which can lead to eating in order to feel better. If you think stress is the reason why you’re eating more, try keeping track of your patterns in a food journal. That way, you can go back and look at bad days, and see what your eating habits were that day. Put down the food and try to reduce stress with exercising, reading a book, playing music, etc. Do what works best for you!