'Full but not satisfied'. How to overcome overeating.
I see this with my clients all the time. Following a meal, they may be physically full but not satisfied and need something more, whether it be picking at the leftovers or having a little something sweet. Depending on your goals, that sweet treat could be a welcome addition to your diet, but you’re going to enjoy it so much more if you are actually physically hungry. So, why do so many people feel the need to eat straight after a meal and what can you do to reduce this ‘full but unsatisfied’ feeling?
1. Your mind was distracted during the the eating process and so while your stomach received the food your mind feels like it hasn’t eaten anything.
It happens all too often, you cook yourself a delicious meal and sit down to watch your favourite show on Netflix. Now despite popular belief the mind is actually a terrible multi-tasker. The latest blacklist episode is new and exciting but the food? Eating is nothing new and you’ve probably eaten something similar before, therefore your mind choses to focus on the TV and not the food. Before you know it, the food is gone, and while your stomach received the food, your mind didn’t. That brings about the common feeling of being physically full, but just not quite satisfied. How can you avoid this? Focus on the food. We all claim that we love food but how many of us actually pay full attention to the eating experience? Next time try putting your phone away and switching the TV off. When eating, just eat and allow your mind to enjoy it too.
2. You are eating for emotional reasons
Whatever your reason for eating, you aren’t going to feel satisfied until you have addressed that need. For example, if you are eating for hunger, then physically eating satisfies that need, which means you are more likely to feel satisfied afterwards. However, if you are eating because you are lonely or bored, it’s not until you give yourself what it is that you desire that you are going to feel content. If your reason for eating is not hunger, no amount of food is going to satisfy that craving. Before you eat, ask yourself if you are truly hungry, if the answer is yes, eat! If the answer is no, ask yourself what it is that you truly want and give yourself that. Respect yourself enough to give your body what it really wants.
3. You didn’t actually feel like the food you ate
How often do you ask yourself what you truly feel like before you eat? It should be every single time you put food in your mouth. If you really don’t feel like that steamed broccoli and fish, it is likely you aren’t going to feel satisfied after. Asking yourself what you truly feel like and eating accordingly can ensure that you are satisfied after the meal and won’t feel like eating more. I always say to my clients, much better to have the slice of bread and be done with it, than to slowly work your way through a packet of corn thins in an attempt to dull the bread craving. Obviously, this can be harder to do when you are working in an office and you have your packed lunch all prepared, but taking time in the weekend to plan and prep meals you know you will enjoy prevents you from turning up to work with that uninspired salad you threw together last minute in an attempt to be ‘healthy’.
4. The food wasn’t what you would consider ‘good’ and so you feel you have blown the diet and may as well keep eating.
When you have been eating a certain way for a while and you mix it up, it can create anxiety that your body won’t know what to do with it. Take eating at a restaurant for example, if you are usually a plain meat and 3 vegetable type of eater, adding unknown sauces or oils to food can create real anxiety. You may also have the idea that this food is ‘scarce’ and it might be a while before you get to enjoy food like this again, so may as well stop at the petrol station on the way home and get a magnum because you’ll be ‘back on the wagon’ tomorrow. An ‘off the wagon/ on the wagon’ mentality can contribute to overeating. Aiming for an overall ‘pretty good’ diet rather than perfect can be so effective to prevent bingeing or overeating.
5. The food just tastes great and therefore you want more
Eating a lot of food doesn’t always have to be evaluated and scrutinized. Just because you eat too much food doesn’t mean you have an emotional problem that needs rectifying. Sometimes the food is just highly palatable, and therefore you want to eat a lot of it. Let’s say caramilk is your favourite thing on earth. Because you love it so much, it is very difficult to stop at one square or even one row. It tastes delicious, which stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain and makes you feel good, so you want more!
Switching your mentality here can make a huge difference. Think, this has been a really enjoyable experience, why ruin it by eating until I feel sick?
Often the first two bites taste the best and then after that it gets less and less enjoyable until you start to feel sick. Better to stop eating and save the rest for another time so you can enjoy the next mouthful as much as the first. Another thing that can help is buying that food only occasionally when you really really feel like it and buying a portioned amount rather than a whole block.