How do we stop ourselves from eating or drinking more when we know it would be best for our health or waistline if we didn’t?
Willpower is not a limitless asset. It is not a very efficient tool for dealing with something that we do multiple times a day, such as eating. It has been described as “like a muscle that fatigues with continued exertion” (Baumeister 2012). Also, willpower requires glucose for fuel and abstaining from eating taxes willpower reducing glucose supplies and further causing subsequent willpower depletion!
Why do we overeat?
Undereating for a day / week often leads to overeating the next day / week.
Choosing nutritionally poor foods amplify hunger. Low overall blood sugar when hungry = lack of blood sugar to the brain = poor decision making like reaching for sugary and starchy foods.
Stress and sleep deprivation = hormonal changes that increase appetite.
Obesity = hormonal changes leading to decreased satiety and increased appetite.
Addressing appetite and consumption
It can be helpful to keep a food diary to ascertain when we are undereating and missing vital nutrients, and possibly overeating as a result. Monitor stress and subsequent poor eating choices. It may be helpful to concentrate efforts on stress management rather than caloric intake.
Many studies show that eating breakfast with protein in, such as eggs, protein shakes or nut butters, is associated with maintenance of weight loss.
Other behaviours known to help control appetite:
eating every 3-4 hours to manage the balance of blood sugars,
avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners to reduce cravings,
7 – 8 hours of sleep a night,
and, my absolute must in terms of improving satiety: higher protein and fat meals with lower contribution from carbohydrate.
Part 2 next week.