Have you ever finished a big meal and thought to yourself, “Why did I eat so much?” Well…there are a bunch of reasons why we might overeat. We make an estimated 250 food decisions each day and most of the food decisions we make, we don’t even realize we’re making. Many of these unconscious decisions lead us to overeat. A few extra calories here and there won’t do a ton of harm, but constantly eating more than we need will end up causing us to put on weight, which increases our risks for chronic diseases down the road.
Sneaky Factors that Lead to Overeating
In an unconscious attempt to be polite, we often mirror our dining partners’ eating habits. If someone we’re with orders fries or takes seconds, we are more likely to do so as well. We also tend to match the speed with which our eating companion eats, so if you’re with someone who eats quickly, you may find yourself eating faster than normal and more likely to eat more.
During times of stress, we’re not only more likely to overeat, we’re more likely to choose higher calorie foods that are packed fat and sugar. If we’re frequently trying to manage stress with our diet, we’re probably overeating and suffering from a decrease in dietary quality.
This one might be a bit more obvious, but if we’re not totally focused on our meal, it make take significantly more of it for us to feel satisfied. Distractions like working while eating or watching a show during dinner give us external cues about when the meal should be finished, so rather than being able to notice that we’re no longer hungry, we tend to stop eating either when the show is over or when the clock says lunch is over.
We tend to eat what we’re given – if we’re given a lot, we eat a lot and if we’re given a little, we eat a little. The problem is, that our concept of proper portion sizes has steadily increased. Our serveware has even increased in size to match it. Dinner plates have expanded from 9 inches in diameter to 12 inches – that extra space prompts us to fill it with food. Larger plates lead us to take larger portions and we eat nearly 25% more calories today than what was typically consumed in the 70s. Simply switching to smaller plates can help us to avoid overeating while still feeling satisfied with the meal.
To avoid being affected by these factors, try to slow down when you can, take a breath and be mindful of the food you’re consuming. It also helps to pick up some smaller plates 🙂
Have a great day!