Overeating: are you eating until you feel sick?

Overeating: are you eating until you feel sick?

Food issues and overeating appear to be very common. How many of us carry childhood memories of being made to sit and eat all the food on the plate ... everything had to be eaten and you were not allowed to leave the table unless the plate was clean?

Do these memories sound familiar?

  • Whether we liked a food or not we had to eat it and how we felt about the food was not a consideration in any way, shape or form.
  • If we did like the food and were happy to eat it but were full after eating two thirds of the meal we would still have to sit and force the rest of the dinner down anyway.

As we get older overeating seems to become something many of us do regularly, often marked by occasions such as:

  • Special events and celebrations when we may eat 3-4 courses of food
  • Movie nights with the family or a sleepover with friends – the more packets of processed food consumed the better, with a smorgasbord to choose from and generally including things like chocolate, chips, lollies, cheesecake, fizzy drink and ice cream
  • Going out for breakfast to the latest café to hang out and catch up with friends, indulging in coffees, juices, a full cooked breakfast and then something sweet to finish the meal off, or perhaps one final coffee

Conversations about the amount of food eaten are very often laughed off with comments like:
‘Oh I won’t need to eat for the rest of the day’, ‘Luckily I can rest and do nothing after all that food I just put away’, ‘I feel like a stuffed pig after eating all of that’ or ‘I couldn’t possibly fit another thing in’.

We are capable of eating until we feel sick, or until the only thing we can do afterwards is lie down and sleep.

Overeating seems to have snuck into our lives to the point where the large amount of food we consume is considered quite normal.

Whether it has been from eating too much when out for dinner with friends when you order that dessert but you are already full to the brim, or when celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving and cannot resist taking an extra helping because the food tastes so good.

And yet how many of us can remember ever having overeaten and feeling good after it?

We need to ask ourselves why do we continue to do it, when we know all of this and when overeating just does not make us feel good?

Our body will very often tell us a different story to the ones our taste buds do as we indulge in every mouthful.

Why DO we overeat?

There seems to be an endless number of reasons as to why we overeat including:

  • To please and be given praise and hear the words ‘well done’
  • Instead of feeling something – eating to numb what there is to be aware of
  • Stress
  • To settle the nerves or allay anxiety
  • To avoid having a conversation with others
  • To pep us up when we’re feeling tired
  • As a way to abuse our bodies purposefully
  • To fill up the lack of self worth void, where food becomes our ‘best friend’

There are other more insidious reasons that can sneak in when we actually feel good about ourselves:

  • Taking the edge off our shine when we may be standing out in a crowd simply for being ourselves
  • To dull the fact that we feel amazing
  • As a reward for whatever reason we might tell ourselves
  • A celebration, whether a birthday or a milestone of some sort, that warrants indulging in a feast

The reasons for overeating are endless. No amount of trying not to overeat seems to work. However, what does allow for a shift in our eating patterns is when the change comes from within and from developing awareness around how we feel about ourselves.

It is when we stop and develop our own self worth and truly commit to loving ourselves deeply, that how we are with our body and with food begins to change.

This is not a quick fix but rather an ongoing relationship with our food choices and how they make us feel. Approached in this manner, we can bring about long-lasting change.

Filed under

ObesitySelf-awarenessSelf-worthHealthy livingOver eatingCultureFatigue

  • By Sally Green, Social & Community Services Manager

    Lives and breathes the ancient profession of True Welfare, bringing the truth about people to the fore. Business partner, co-author, wife, mother and a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd