Food for Thought: Subliminal Reasons for Overeating

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We know that people overeat for a variety of reasons – they’re stressed, they’re bored, they’re anxious – but did you know there are lots of subliminal reasons for chowing down?

Answer this…did you just multi-task thru your last meal? When you use one hand to shovel forkfuls of dinner into your mouth, and the other to thumb through your Facebook feed, your brain can’t fully process the look, smell, and taste of your food as it travels from your plate to your stomach. This is a bad thing, because it can take up to 20 minutes for the food you’ve eaten to reach your stomach and send the message to your brain that you’re full. To avoid overeating in the first place, focus on your food and eat mindfully. That means eliminating distractions. Put the phone down and put your fork down between every few bites to actively assess how the food feels inside your body.

Also think about when you eat. Are you a stress eater? Do you nibble when you’re bored? Some reasons are apparent; others are so subtle you might not even recognize them. For instance, how much did you chow down watching that last Mission Impossible movie? Research suggests the fast camera cuts and sound variations in action movies can trigger snacking and lead you to throw back up to twice as many calories as when you watch something more chill. The same goes for sad movies, so look out for tear-jerkers, too. If you must eat while you watch, just pre-portion your snacks instead of bringing the entire bag of chips over to the couch.