Overeating: 5 Reasons Why we Overeat

Eating too much is something that we have all experienced in different forms: snacking in front of the TV, refill his favorite dish, etc. There are, however, cases where overconsumption of food becomes very problematic. Excess food is caused by several factors or reasons that I wanted to develop here.

Please note that the following information is based on my experience, but also, on my years of practice as an Ayurvedic naturopath. I do not pretend to be an expert on eating disorders, but simply to provide tools so that everyone can understand the mechanism that pushes them towards these bad eating habits.

1. Habit

Many people “inherited” bad eating habits when they were children. Even if what we experience during our childhood has no reason to refer to our “adult” life, there is nevertheless a mechanism which pushes us to continue to reproduce certain family patterns, and sometimes, without question ourselves.

Difficulties: It is easier to keep a habit that is several years old than to create a new one!

  •  Example 1: My family gathers every Sunday at noon for a long meal that drags on and I have become used to eating a lot even if I am no longer hungry.
  • Example 2: At home, my parents ate all the time between meals and I got used to it. When I am at home, I make several trips back and forth to the kitchen, because snacking is a habit for me.

    Habit ⟶ Mental is conditioned ⟶ Snacking is a habit

2. Repressed emotions

Because we are humans made up of a complex hormonal system, we are subject to a multitude of emotions every day. For several reasons, we sometimes avoid living some emotions that exist in us. It may happen that we experience emotions such as anger, frustration, envy, but instead of recognizing them, we ignore them by occupying our thoughts or by anesthetizing ourselves with food, for example.

Difficulties: We struggle with emotions coming from two sources: those before excess food, then those after excess food.

  • Example 1: My boss gives me too much work. I agree to produce this work, but I never tell him that it is too much. I feel anger that I am accumulating. In the evening, as soon as I think about this situation, I go to the kitchen and I eat.
  • Example 2: Whenever I go to visit my best friend, she tells me about her amazing job and her fantastic couple’s relationship. When I get home, I think about my situation as a single woman and about this job that I want to leave for so long, because it no longer suits me. I snack.

    Emotions ⟶ Do not accept the emotions ⟶  Food rage

3. Environment

If I find myself in an oppressive environment, new, foreign or simply that does not suit me, it is very likely that my desire for comfort or to feel good will be increased. As a result, I will be more likely to snack on foods that comfort me emotionally in order to alleviate discomfort or a new situation.

Difficulties: It is sometimes difficult to notice that we eat more when we are in a new environment or when changes take place around us.

  •  Example 1: I just moved in with my boyfriend. Everything is fine. We make good hearty meals in the evening. Week after week, this habit continues and I see myself taking weight.
  • Example 2: My mother-in-law is at home for a week. My relationship with her is sometimes tense. I notice that I’m snacking more since she’s here.

    Environment ⟶ Need stability ⟶ Increased snacking

4. Boredom / Emptiness / Loneliness

One of the primary reflexes that a human has is to eat. Eating is normal! Sometimes when we’re bored, we eat to pass the time. And when we love to eat, we wake up in the morning and think about the meal we are going to prepare. This same meal can turn to a buffet all you can eat!

Difficulties: When I start to associate food intake with « boredom,” it can be difficult to break this mechanism.

  • Example 1: It’s my rest day.  I have nothing planned today. I decide to stay at home to relax. But, hold on! What can I eat today? … After 1 hour in the kitchen and the pride of having prepared a good meal, it’s time to eat and my meal is so yummy! Even if I’m no longer hungry, I take more. Because after all, it’s good, I have nothing else to do so why not refill! Tomorrow I will be more reasonable! ” And a few minutes later … « I’m not going to put half a piece of cheesecake in the fridge! Might as well finish it, because tomorrow I will be reasonable! ”
  • Example 2: It’s Sunday. My kids were supposed to come to see me, but they canceled. I find myself alone at home with this meal that I had prepared for them. I sit at the table alone, but I eat a lot more than my stomach can tolerate.

    Boredom, feeling of emptiness ⟶ Need to fill up ⟶ Snacking

5. Reward

As much in pets as in children, we are unfortunately programmed in a “Pleasure / Reward” world. This is what we do awkwardly with pets and sometimes even with children. If the reward is food, this system programs the brain to associate food as a reward and will be used for any reason other than hunger.

Difficulties: It is important to find a different alternative to the food reward especially if it is associated with eating disorders.

  • Example 1: My parents took me to McDonald’s when I had good results at school. As an adult, I go to McDonald’s when I have success at work. Since I’m a good part of my team, I can eat McDonald’s every week because I deserve it.
  • Example 2: It’s Friday evening. I had a stressful week at work. I’m finally going to be able to relax. After a week like this, I deserve to eat what I want tonight! Life is hard! I work hard! So I deserved it!

    Good news ⟶ Conclusion of deserving a good meal ⟶ Meal composed of foods that are sometimes forbidden

How to get out of these patterns? How to stop snacking? How to rest the fork when you reach satiety? These are questions that I will answer in a future article. Again, I only want to bring my experience and understanding here.

How to lose weight in ayurveda

Losing weight can be a real challenge. Some people succeed easily, while others have great difficulty losing weight. In Ayurveda, this difference is explained in particular by the constitution of people, their doshas. Indeed, in people with strong Vata dominance, weight loss is easier than in people with Kapha dominance. Since each individual is different in Ayurveda, it is very important to adapt to the diet when you want to lose weight. Before seeing how to lose weight with Ayurveda, it is important to understand how the body works in cases of excess weight and obesity according to the ancient medicine of Ayurveda.

loose weight ayurveda

Understanding Overweight

Overweight or obesity (Sthaulya) is a common metabolic disorder and one of the oldest documented diseases. In Ayurveda, from 1500 BC AD, Charaka Samhita describes overweight as a disorder of fat metabolism. Overweight may be the result of overeating heavy, sugary and fatty foods, lack of exercise and hereditary predisposition, as well as lower cultural, social, psychological and emotional conditions. Some obesity may be due to disorders of the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenal glands, gonads, pancreas and hypothalamus. Other causes may include food allergies, environmental toxins, or unbalanced metabolism.

Excess overweight or obesity can reduce longevity, premature aging, unpleasant odors, excessive sweating, shortness of breath during moderate exertion, excessive hunger and thirst, weakness, loss of vitality, loss of sexual power and mental confusion. If left unresolved, various complications such as hypertension, high cholesterol, lipomas, heart problems, hyperacidity, kidney infections, diabetes, fistula and arthritis may occur.

Ayurvedic Definition of Overweight

According to Charaka, a person is « obese » when fatty and muscular tissues drop the hips, abdomen and breasts and his vitality is less than the size of his body.

Symptoms

According to Ayurveda, an altered digestive fire produces Ama (toxins), which disrupts adipose tissue and blocks their good reform. The adipose tissue then accumulates in the body and causes overweight or obesity. The accumulation of fat aggravates Vata, which increases the appetite. So the person eats more and the vicious circle continues. Overweight can occur in people of any constitution.

Signs of presence of Vata
Many Vata people eat to protect themselves from the nervousness or anxiety that characterizes Vata prevalence.

Signs of presence of Pitta
In people with Pitta constitutions, obesity is impressive, but rare, and the weight usually fluctuates a lot. People with Pitta constitutions usually have a significant appetite. However, their metabolism is fast and they are less likely to develop obesity than people with the Kapha constitution.

Signs of presence of Kapha

People with a Kapha constitution are the most susceptible to obesity because their metabolism is very slow. Since their renal function is often weak, they tend to retain water. Excess weight is therefore mainly due to water retention rather than the accumulation of inappropriate adipose tissue. In addition, Kapha people often relieve stress or depression by eating.

Type of Diet to Be Adopted in Case of Overweight

Pro-Agni diet that involves increasing the digestive fire. Anti-Kapha or anti-Pitta diet, depending on the symptoms of the person.

Foods for weight loss in Ayurveda

The diet will be rich in astringent and spicy rasa. The spicy flavor can be found in spices, while astringency is brought by some fruits, leafy vegetables and herbal teas.

It is very important to maintain a sufficient digestive fire in the case of overweight and even at all times. This is one of the first steps. For this, drink ginger and fennel herbal teas after meals and start with a tincture of bitter plants to start the meal. Place a few drops under the tongue 15 minutes before the meal to allow the liver to evacuate enough bile to capture the fat of the next meal and digest them well.

It is advisable to observe a fast of approximately 14 hours in Ayurveda, and this, for all Ayurvedic constitutions. If you sleep between 22h and 6h (so 8 hours), you just have to spread 6 hours of fasting before or after these 8 hours of sleep or the stomach is empty. This technique, known to some as intermittent fasting, allows the body to release more easily toxins in the body.

Variety of Food

Use bitter foods to stimulate liver and gall bladder work to properly digest fat and filter out toxins. Each meal can be started with a salad of rockets, spinach, parsley or sorrel.

Add apple cider vinegar as seasoning. For Kapha, the foods that speed up the metabolism is preferred: yerba mate, coffee, tea, ginger, garlic, turmeric and all other heating spices.

Do not nibble and finish your plate. Often, the portions of overweight people are above their digestive capacity. If this is the case, it will be important to reduce the portions by starting to leave a little food on the plate. As time goes by, the person will use less and the portions will decrease.

Foods to Avoid

Sweet rasa foods. Sweet and cold foods are strictly not recommended. Refined sugar is absolutely forbidden while carbohydrates are to be reduced as much as possible. Potatoes, root vegetables and whole wheat cereals are long digestible and do not make it easy for Agni to work in a case of obesity. We must avoid them.

Fatty foods are also to be avoided. No frying, trans fat, hydrogenated oils can be consumed. Avoid heavy foods, such as all animal proteins (milk, egg, meat, fish, cheese), as well as food combinations that are difficult to digest.

In the same meal, do not mix meat with carbohydrates. The meat will combine with vegetables. Carbohydrates will also combine with vegetables.