Why do we overeat?

We often associate overeating as a problem linked with obesity, but many thin people overeat a lot. Even those who make grain free, dairy free, sugar free and legume free choices can still overeat and feel bloated from it. Being bloated can be such a familiar feeling that one often mistakes it for being full.

Could it be that we have forgotten what feeling full, not just in a physical sense, feels like? And why do we overeat even when we’re not hungry? What are we reaching for if we know we were satisfied with what we just ate?

Are many of us suffering from a ‘perpetual hunger’ that food cannot satisfy?

When we overeat for emotional reasons, it seems there is not enough food in the world to fill the emptiness we feel within, so we eat to dull the feeling and stop when we are ‘comfortably numb’ from overeating – at least we are not feeling things so acutely then!

Questions to ask might include:

  • Am I feeling lonely?
  • Am I looking for a reward after a challenging day … or
  • Am I even looking for some comfort from food?

There are other times when we feel really joyful and we have this feeling of not needing anything or anyone but we still reach for food. Is it because in a very twisted way we know it will stop how great we feel? And it can even be with what we label as healthy food – but the effects on our body are the same if it is overeating. It’s still a sabotage to ruin how good we feel. The next question is almost inevitable:

Why would any one of us want to stop feeling great?

It seems we overeat when we feel empty and alone … but we also overeat when we feel joyful and not needy! A contradiction in terms! So what is going on?

Getting to the root of overeating

One way to explore the root cause of overeating is to reconnect with our bodies and explore what we feel beneath the initial impulse to overeat …

If we are meeting our nutritional needs and not craving what we are allergic to, then overeating is usually going to be a desire to avoid feeling something.

  • For some, this may be a wanting to avoid feeling the pain of grief, misery and deprivation that we all really can see is occurring in the world we live in.
  • For others it may be our own old hurts being triggered by what is going on around us. It may be old feelings of deep hurt, rejection, anxiety or shame.
  • During our childhood or teenage years we may have developed a deep shame about being ourselves if we did not feel accepted, or perhaps that we did not fit in.

Finding a way to dull these or other feelings will be different for everyone but it can be accompanied by feelings of nausea and self-loathing. This may even lead to eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia, obesity or simply eating more than one needs.

60% Complete

Why is obesity on the increase?

Why is obesity on the increase when we know more about nutrition and diet than ever before?

From an early age we can learn to use food as a way to cover up the hurt we experience from not feeling accepted for who we are and for not accepting ourselves.

The willingness to accept at least the possibility that all of this leads to overeating is taking a step along the path of self-acceptance, healing hurts and towards being truly full of ourselves.

Filed under

Over eatingBloatingBody awarenessEmotionsFeelingsEating disorderObesity

  • Photography: Clayton Lloyd