The next time you reach for a sugary chocolate bar or a salty packet of crisps ask yourself this question – Am I really hungry? Chances are your answer will be no.
Back in the day of the hunter gatherers, the feeling of hunger was a physiological reaction to alert the brain to eat again.
But, as such a huge range and variety of food is now so easily accessible, we no longer rely on this physiological prompt for hunger. Instead we take our eating cues from our environment.
Read on to discover the three main reasons why you may struggle with over-eating as we explain the psychology of weight gain.

3 reasons why we over-eat

1. Eating out of habit

In our fast-paced modern world, eating is often scheduled to a certain time of the day. You might pick up a daily cappuccino and pastry on the way to the office or grab a quick lunch with colleagues. Many people come home to a glass of wine or bottle of beer and snack on the couch until bedtime.
By eating at approximately the same time every day your body begins to expect food even if there is no great need for it. In fact, recent studies have proved that physical hunger does not correspond with our expressed levels of hunger or how much food we ingest.
This feeling of false hunger tricks us into overeating which inevitably leads to weight gain. Because these habits are so engrained in our culture and society it can be very difficult to break this unhealthy cycle.

2. Eating for emotional comfort

Many people turn to eating as a source of comfort when they are faced with a distressing problem in their lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness, and even happiness can prompt an impulsive desire to eat in an effort to distract the brain from the larger issue at hand.
Life will always have its ups and downs so it is extremely important we don’t rely on food as a coping mechanism. In her new book, The Emotional Eater’s Diet, psychologist and life coach Dr. Pam Spurr suggests that 70% of us will go through a phase of emotional eating at least once in our lifetime.
According to Dr. Spurr, emotional eaters fall into one of four profiles or categories – the angry eater, the stressed eater, the insecure eater, and the emotionally wounded eater. Try her simple and informative quiz to find out what type of emotional eater you are.

3 Eating because of food addiction

Recent studies have shown that the reward and pleasure centre’s of the brain that are activated by food are the same as those that are activated by drugs like cocaine and heroin. When we eat foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat, our brain rewards us by releasing feel good chemicals like dopamine. This is then interpreted by the brain as pleasure. The brain and body then go on to crave this feeling of pleasure that they achieve from the food, and it is here that the problem of addiction begins.
If we continue to eat these ‘pleasurable’ foods, the strength of the reward response to eating the food diminishes, which results in the individual consuming more and more to create the same effect.

Break the Habit

There are many different things you can do to ensure you do not fall victim to the psychological factors we’ve discussed here.
Embarking on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle can be a daunting experience so make it easier by speaking to one of Motivation’s dedicated advisers at your local Motivation clinic today.
With over 100,000 success stories on record, Motivation Weight Management has a growing number of clinics in Ireland so there’s bound to be one near you.

Would you like to hear more information about our programme? Talk to your local Motivation Clinic today – our Programmes start from just €195 and are tailored to suit your individual nutritional and psychological needs and goals.

Call 1850 30 6000

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Blog Post by Claire Jackson