Let’s face it, eating is pleasurable! In fact, research shows it ranks high in what gives people pleasure, as high as having sex.
When you overeat you consume more food (calories) than your body requires.
Many of us overeat, especially when we visit our families in the village. You visit five different homes, one after another, and in each one of them, you will have a meal.
In the span of about 5 hours, you’ve had five meals and yet it takes about 5 to 8 hours to digest food, depending on your metabolism. Some people eat this way, every day.
This kind of eating increases your calorie intake. High caloric intake could raise the risk of brain dysfunction. Most of us have ‘stress-induced overeating’ tendencies; eating as a way to manage our stress.
Research on the effect of stress on eating is growing, and it’s more complicated than expected. This is especially because more and more people are becoming overweight or obese.
Although we focus on the link of overeating and the brain, there are those that suffer from undernourishment (not eating enough) when they’re stressed. Acute short-term stress can suppress the appetite, however, mild and acute chronic stress is associated with overeating and weight gain.
In this article, we discuss the basic effects of overeating on the brain and how to know one’s food limit. By the end of this article, we hope to convince you to take our offer of free membership, and start tracking the foods you eat. Our aim is to guide you into making better decisions to improve your health.
Perception of stress/workload linked to overeating
The perception of being stressed or overworked is linked to overeating. Overeating is often an attempt to satisfy an emotional need rather than actual hunger. People who emotionally down tend to eat more to feel good rather than been hungry!
The brain pumps out a stress hormone that makes you crave the ‘good-feeling’ that comes with eating. The hormones that the brain produces when one is stressed are called stress hormones.
Your brain can create cravings for comfort food when you’re under stress, especially chronic stress. Ever wondered why some people seem perfectly satisfied with a bowl of salad while others would much prefer a burger and fries? Turns out a hormone deficiency in the brain could be to blame.
How much food is enough for you?
Your environment has a very big effect on how you eat. We make so many food decisions every day and do not notice it.
You find yourself having 3 plates of food, and yet you were full by the end of the first one. Or you attend a conference or workshop. Your plate is heaped with three types of beef (stewed, fried and roasted) jollof rice, mukimo, ugali and roasted potatoes, chicken curry, a bit if spinach, some kachumbari and chapati.
Your plate is so full, that you have to balance it on your hands, just to make sure the soup stays in the plate. On your way to the seat, you see one slice of watermelon left, and you head right to the dessert section, and add it on the same plate, on top of the chapati.
Why do we make these ‘mindless’ food decisions? Most people falsely believe that the bowl of sweets that’s in front of them has no influence on the volume of food they eat. What makes us eat plenty when we see plenty?
A good way to evaluate the amount of food you eat is to think of when, what, how much, with whom and where you eat. Simple decisions. Take some time right now and try to a evaluate the food decisions you had to make yesterday.
Most people underestimate the number of food related decisions they make.
These decisions deal with what to eat, when to eat it, when to start and when to stop. Whom to eat the food with, and in what quantity, when to say no to the second and third serving, when not to eat a snack and what snack to eat.
The first step to knowing how much food is enough is being mindful of the type, and how much food we eat.
The environment plays a big role in our weight gain and loss. The presence of food around you is something you must always be mindful of, especially when around people we like.
We tend to have a second and third serving because others are having second and third servings. You find yourself eating so much meat and chicken because culturally, we pick nyama and kuku choma as an accompaniment to the beer.
This mindless eating bares heavily on your health. Be aware of the food you’re eating, take a mental note, or record it down.
How much food is right for you?
Determining the caloric intake that’s right for you depends on several factors, such as your age, gender, height, weight, activity level, and overall health.
For example, a 25 year old male, who is lightly active (exercises 1-3 times/week) weighing 75kg and with a height of 5’11” would need to consume about 2400calories to maintain his body weight whereas a woman with the same profile would require about 2,190 calories to maintain her weight. This is because men tend to have much more muscle mass than women, and may therefore burn more calories.
Remember that unless you burn more calories than you consume, you will gain weight. So if you live a somewhat sedentary lifestyle, we encourage you to exercise, it’s good for your brain function. , and it means burning more calories.
While many older adults are overweight and need to watch their calories, frail or underweight individuals may be able to boost their caloric intake.
Join our community; Sign Up for a Lishe Living Account, and manage your stress better. We are here to work with you until you feel healthy, engaged, productive and happy.