Did you ever find yourself opening the fridge or the pantry in search of cookies or chips right after finishing your supper? And after eating your cookies or chips, you might feel guilty and say to yourself that you will eat better tomorrow…but then the cycle repeats itself again.
Having cravings and still feeling hungry after an adequate meal is quite common and in contrary to popular beliefs, it does not stem from a lack of will power or self-control. Here are 5 reasons that could trigger “hunger” and binge-eating after a meal as well as solutions to help you build a healthier relationship with food.
1. Not eating enough during the day
Often times, some people will consciously eat less during the day in an attempt to lose weight. Sometimes, unpredictable circumstances do arise and you might find yourself so busy that you skip lunch or a snack. Regardless of the causes that bring about under-eating, the latter creates a starvation mode in your body. You might not experience extreme hunger during the day just because you are too busy to think about it. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, your body’s reserves will be running low and that is when your body will start producing more hormones and signals linked to an increased hunger.
What to do? It is therefore key to fuel your body with enough food throughout the day. Make sure that you have 3 meals per day with some complex carbohydrates (whole-wheat bread, pasta, rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc.), some protein sources (chicken, fish, eggs, beans, etc.) and some vegetables at each meal.
Also if your meals are more than 3 to 4 hours apart, snacks can be very helpful at decreasing hunger in the evening or at night.
2. Having forbidden foods
After eating a meal, people rarely crave for vegetables and fruits. Instead, we crave for the chocolate, the cookies, the chips, etc. The latter are the forbidden foods, the ones you categorize as “bad”. However, the more you forbid yourself to eat certain foods, the more appealing the food becomes. That is when eating can become out of control.
Moreover, if you feel guilty when eating those same foods, you will not be able to savor the foods. As a result of the guilt and shame associated with eating the forbidden foods, you might say to yourself: “I have been bad already, might as well continue eating and tomorrow I will start restricting myself again”.
What to do? Instead of denying yourself certain foods, try to allow yourself to eat all the foods and savor them without any guilt. You might be scared to lose even more control if you were to allow yourself to eat everything anytime. For this reason, we help our clients reintroduce their forbidden foods in a structured way in order to minimize binge- eating episodes.Doing so normalizes the food and you might be surprised to realize that you do not crave for those foods as much.
3. Making food choices that are not satisfying for your taste buds
We eat for many reasons and one of them is for pleasure. However, in our society nowadays making food choices is often dictated purely by the nutritional value of foods.
For instance, you might want to finish off a meal with a cookie but your head tells you that the latter is too fatty and sugary and that you should have an apple instead. You eat the apple in an attempt to satisfy your sweet tooth but you still feel “hungry” and unsatisfied.
You might eat a yogurt…another healthy food that is acceptable. You still feel unsatisfied and you finally end up eating one, two, three or more cookies. You feel guilty and blame yourself for having given in to your cravings.
The real trigger for binge-eating here is not the cookie. But it is mostly due to the fact that your taste buds were not satisfied from the start.
What to do? So instead of doing “food detours”, try asking yourself what you really want to eat rather than what you should eat. Making your meals and snacks more satisfying will help you be more in tune with your hunger and fullness cues.
4. Emotional eating
Another reason why we eat in the absence of physiological hunger is out of response to feeling negative emotions. Eating certain foods releases dopamine, a pleasure hormone which numbs sadness, frustration, anxiety, etc.
Emotional eating is normal and happens to everyone. But it becomes problematic when it is the only coping mechanism to deal with your emotions.
What to do? Try to think of other activities or distractions to help you cope with your emotions. It could be talking to someone, taking a bath, going for a walk, etc.
Eating right after supper can be due to a habit that you have developed through the years. Reaching for the chips when you sit on the couch to watch TV might just be an activity that you do on autopilot mode.
What to do? If you have identified that this is the reason why you eat, try to break out of your routine. For instance to change the pattern and eat more mindfully, you can try eating the trigger food in a different place. You can also use different bowl or plates to portion your food.
Listening to your fullness signals is a journey that requires time and energy. While you work on the triggers that make eating get out of control, try to be indulgent towards yourself and practice kindness towards yourself to make the changes to have a better relationship with food.
And if you need a hand to help you in changing your eating behavior, feel free to contact us. It is our expertise and it will be our pleasure to accompany you in your journey.