Why We Eat!

Why we eat, and your desire to eat can be from many different signals. The average person eats 20% of the time from physical hunger, and 80% of the time for other reasons besides hunger. What are the other reasons why we eat? If we can learn to distinguish our reason for eating, we can develop some healthy diet habits that not only relate to food but these other reasons! 

Why We Eat | Healthy Diet Habits

Here are some of the reasons:

  • Physical Hunger and Hormones: The hormones Ghrelin (Eat now) and Leptin (Stop eating), are your bodies on and off switches for your appetite. The problem with your hormonal system, is that the cycle takes 20 minutes to work and we can all overeat in that time.People who are dieting, and some overweight people, have hormone levels of ghrelin and leptin that are totally out of whack. They can become resistant to leptin, which tells your body to "stop eating", and they can produce too much ghrelin that says "eat now". It is important to keep dieting to a minimum, and eat slowly to allow your body the 20 minutes it needs to know that you are full.

  • Food Cravings: Cravings can cause you to eat for pleasure, rather than for hunger. Many food cravings are set off by fluctuating sugar levels in your body. Learning to control your blood sugar, by limiting sugar and processed foods can greatly help you to control food cravings.

  • Brain Chemistry: Recent studies show that some obese people, have brain chemistry's similar to drug addicts and alcoholics. They have low levels of dopamine receptors, that process pleasure so they need to eat more to get the same level of pleasure from food. They might need to eat 10 brownies, to reach the same level of pleasure that another person got from eating one brownie! Exercise increases Dopamine receptors and endorphins (brain chemicals that give comfort), so it is good to increase your exercise.Also, serotonin levels which lower appetite and control your moods, can be low. When you eat sugary foods, or starchy foods, serotonin levels increase, and you actually do feel better. That is why certain people feel drawn to over-eat carbohydrates when they feel down. Exercise is the best way to keep your brain chemistry in balance.

  • Emotional Eating: Food offers comfort for many emotional things that you are going through. You must learn to substitute eating with other things you love to do, like reading, talking to friends, book groups, journaling, exercise or other activities you enjoy.Also, it is important to deal with life’s emotions and issues. Trying to comfort your hurts with food, is a very temporary fix which causes so much more pain as you gain weight. Most women eat for emotional reasons consistently, and diets rarely address this.

  • Stress: When you are under stress, our body releases the hormone Cortisol. If your stress continues, the cortisol levels remain high and stimulates your appetite, and can cause weight gain around your midsection.Studies show that foods full of fat and sugar stop the release of stress hormones. By eating comfort foods when you are stressed out, you are actually self medicating yourself, and reducing your stress. The problem, is that these foods mess with your bodies signals of hunger and fullness, and you eat too much.

  • Lack of Sleep: When you are sleep deprived, your "ghrelin" and "leptin" hormone system of appetite control is off, and you are actually hungrier. It is important to get enough sleep, if you want to keep your hunger under control.

  • Mindless Eating: This is eating for no reason at all, like watching television, visiting the movies, just eating because the candy bowl was there. In our society, food is everywhere, and I think this is the primary reason why we eat. Most of us eat not because of these other reasons, but simply because the food was there.

There are so many different reasons why we eat, that it is hard to develop a diet that works for each person. It is important for each person to look at the different areas of their life, and identify what is going on when they eat. From there they can begin to learn some healthy diet habits and Lifestyle Solutions that work for them.

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