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The hunger is in your mind

Have been overeating lately? Here are some reasons that might be making you over indulge in food.

health and fitness Updated: Nov 14, 2011 00:10 IST
Ankita Bahl

It is a common perception that feeling of hunger or food satisfaction is alarmed by the stomach. But many nutritionists and doctors say otherwise. It is the mind or the brain that sends signals of hunger or food requirement and not the stomach. So, if you are overeating, you might be not listening to the signals sent by your brain. Kajal Gupta, Clinical and health nutritionist says, “While eating food, we need to pause or give 10-15 minutes to our brain to decide whether we are still hungry or not.”

Overeating is a common problem faced by many. But overeating can be classified into different types depending upon the factors faced by you. Here are eight frequently cited ways that make overeating a bigger problem.

Food* Binge Eating: Consumption of larger than normal amount of food within a shorter span of time than usual could be of various reasons such as to celebrate, eating after a period of fasting and dieting, social pressure, to rebel or to experience pleasure. "A person with binge eating disorder binges regularly for several months. When you binge, you feel like you can’t control your eating, and you feel unhappy about it afterward," says Ishi Khosla, nutritionist, Escort Hospital.

* Emotional eating: A common problem for both men and women. "Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of the physical symptom of hunger initiating the eating, an emotion triggers the eating," says Gupta.

* Stress Eating: Stress eating, although closely related to emotional eating, is more heavily driven by anxiety rather than depression, and may be a way of fuelling overwork when time is not taken for adequate breaks or meals. "During stress your immunity tends to go down. You need to boost up your immunity to avoid stress eating," says Gupta.

* Compulsive eating: Although eating two to three snacks a day between meals is often considered healthy, constant snacking, particularly on unhealthy snacks, can lead to overeating, whether the snacking is in place of or in addition to regular meals.

* Comfort eating: While comfort eating can be healthy in moderation, people who eat in order to deal with distressing emotions may overeat.

* Boredom eating: This is a mindless approach to food, in which lack of stimulation in other areas of life leads to eating, just to feel something.

* Social eating: People who are constantly under pressure to eat socially, such as those who routinely wine and dine, or meet over business meals, may be prone to overeating. Gupta says, "Try eating 80% of your meal at home before going out for a party." Potluck dinners and college sororities may all provide opportunities and social pressure to binge eat, whether you want to or not.

Emotional eater test
If you think you are an emotional overeater, which is one of the most common overeating symptom, then take this test. If your answer to more than five question
is yes, then you are an emotional eater. This means you eat as a result of your feelings without realising.
* Do you ever eat without realising you’re even doing it?
* Do you often feel guilty or ashamed after eating?
* Do you often eat alone or at odd locations, such as parked in your car outside your own house?
* After an unpleasant experience, such as an argument, do you eat even if you aren’t feeling hungry?
* Do you crave specific foods when you’re upset, such as always desiring chocolate when you feel depressed?
* Do you feel the urge to eat in response to outside cues such as seeing food advertised on television?
* Do you eat because you feel there’s nothing else to do?
* Does eating make you feel better when you’re down or less focused on problems when you’re worried about something?