Why You Can’t Stop Overeating Certain Foods And 3 Ways To Fight Back
Have you ever enjoyed the self-loathing that accompanies eating an entire quart of ice cream?
Have you ever found yourself dazed and confused with bright orange fingers and an empty Dorito bag next to you on the couch?
Have you ever devoured a bucket of oily popcorn, giant coke and an entire box of snow caps during a two hour movie?
Oh, you haven’t… uh, me neither.
Don’t worry. We aren’t broken, helpless or alone.
We live in a world of processed foods that are scientifically engineered to be irresistible and easy to devour in large quantities.There is an entire industry creating foods that are hyper-palatable.
Processed foods are modified from their whole food form in order to change flavor, texture or shelf life.
- Easily consumed
Food processing methods
If you care about your health and want to eat better, do some research on these food processing methods:
- chemical emulsifiers
- flavor enhancers
- coloring agents
- oil hydrogenation
How Processed Foods Can Make You Overeat
Marketing is how a company/business tries to make you aware of their product or service. The powerful corporations behind food use the following marketing strategies to make you aware of their products:
- Bright colored packaging, cartoon characters and celebrity endorsements.
- Health halo foods with powerful words and phases like – organic, vegan, gluten free that create an illusion or “halo” of health around them.
- Catchy slogans – Have a break, You deserve it……
#2 Big Portions make you feel like you are getting a good deal
- We were raised not to waste food.
- Be financially responsible and buy more for less.
- Purchase a small one-serving drink or a large cup with free refills?
We perceive big portions are a better value for our money, but we forget about the “health tax” that comes with them.
Health tax – the toll you pay for eating processed foods over time.
#3 Variety makes us hungrier
- Choices excite us.
- Party mix snacks and self-serve frozen yogurt bars with endless toppings are a couple examples.
- Try eating one thing with one flavor in abundance. Go ahead and let me know how many apples you can eat at one sitting.
- When we take away all the variety, we are able to slow down, chew our food mindfully and recognize hunger/fullness cues.
#4 Multiple flavors at once are irresistible
You may not crave spoonfuls of sugar, but that chocolate square filled with caramel and sprinkled with sea-salt is diabolical!
- Fat and salt – nachos, fries and cheesy items.
- Fat and sugar – baked goods, ice cream
- Fat, sugar and salt – french fries with ketchup or a chocolate caramel brownie sprinkled with sea salt.
Damn this blog is making me hungry!
The Big Five
- Calorie dense
- Intensely flavored
- Immediately delicious
- Easy to eat
- Melts or dissolves easily when eaten.
These are the factors processed food manufacturers use to determine if a food is good for the market. They care about creating foods that we will overeat and continue to purchase. That’s it.
Fight the power with these 3 strategies
#1 Get curious about the food you eat
- Observe and count your chews – eat a fruit, vegetable or meat and see how long it takes to chew it. Then try this with a processed food – pasta, chips, cookies.
- How full do you feel after whole foods? What about after processed foods?
- Make some comparisons. You don’t have to do this forever. It’s simply away to become aware of how you eat. It provides information.
#2 Notice the messages you are getting about foods
- Pay attention to the packaging and message on the box.
- Start with your pantry. Locate “health halo” foods. Why did you choose them? Was it the packaging or a trendy slogan? Was it sugar-free, organic or paleo?
- Read the labels and ingredients. Is the organic box of mac and cheese much different than the regular box?
- Now count the variety of snacks, crackers, cookies, etc in your house. The more options you have the more likely you are to overeat these foods.
- This is just an awareness activity. Don’t judge or feel shame about your choices. After going through this step, you will be more aware of the marketing tactics you are susceptible too.
#3 Look for patterns
- We often use food for other reasons beside nourishment. We need to identify why we are eating. Maybe we are sad, tired, stressed, lonely or bored. Food fills the void.
- It could be time of day. Every night after dinner you have some ice cream.
- Social settings – Oh, you are drinking beer? I guess I am too!
- Thought pattern – I deserve this…..
- Use your phone or some kind of journal and look for patterns.
- Practice – learning to replace the behavior of eating to provide comfort with a habit that supports your goals will take time.
Processed foods aren’t going anywhere. They also can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Give these three strategies a chance for a few weeks. I would love to hear how it goes!