Large meal portions and extra servings can affect our waistline, our wallets and the fate of our planet. But, why exactly do we overeat?
Why We Overeat
Studies show that certain foods (especially sweets and fatty foods) have a drug-like effect, causing a pleasure sensation in the brain. Eating too much of these foods can “cause long-term changes” in our brain. Over time we would have to eat more of these foods to get the same amount of pleasure. Unfortunately, overeating and little exercise can lead to obesity.
According to the World Health Organization, 1.4 billion adults and 40 million children (under the age of five) are overweight. And the worldwide obesity rate has doubled since 1980. Obesity can lead to many health complications that kill millions of people each year including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease and sleep apnea.
The Costs of Overeating
Obesity has financial costs as well. Data shows that obesity can cost a person $2,600 to $4,900 each year in lost wages (due to low productivity) and rising cost of health and life insurance, and even gasoline costs. In American alone, it’s estimated that $450 billion is spent per year on indirect obesity costs including clothing, food, short-term disability, and surgery.
Our eating habits also affect global survival. Researchers in London LSHTM prove that obesity is a major threat to our global food security and ecological sustainability. This is because heavier bodies require more energy (food) to move, and this means less food to go around. As the population and obesity rate rises, this could mean a world of trouble.
How to Stop Overeating
We can all do our part by living healthier lives, if not for ourselves, for the sake of our planet. A little exercise and the Mindful Eating Everyday® tips listed below could do a lot of good.
- Take small bites and eat slowly. Research shows that cutting food into smaller pieces makes you feel satisfied quicker. And eating slowly allows our bodies to send special hormones to our brain, signaling our brains that we’re full sooner.
- Trick the eye. Smaller plates with bright foods (in a creative arrangement) will trick the brain into thinking that a smaller portion is adequate.
- Eat filling foods. Consider eating more of foods that are low in calories that make you feel satisfied longer like eggs, whole-meal bread, apples, and grapes.
- Repeat a food mantra. Select a mantra and repeat it to yourself. Meditate and take time for self-introspection. “I will only eat food that’s nourishing.” “Food is good in moderation.”