I can't stop eating: causes and what to do

Are you hungry at all hours? Can't avoid looting the fridge in the middle of the night? Do you eat more than you would like and then feel guilty? If so, if you feel like you can't stop eating, your problem is probably emotional in nature, at least in large part.

The feeling of not being able to control the intake becomes distressing, because you know that you are not only damaging your appearance, but also your health. Despite this, you don't know how to stop. In any case, the solution is to change the relationship with food. Here's what to do about it.

Why can't I stop eating?

Feeding is an essential function for survival. It is the means by which the body obtains the nutrients it needs to function on a day-to-day basis. The problem stems from the amount of food eaten and, especially, the choice of them.

Often, those who have difficulty eating in measure opt for products with low nutritional value and high caloric content. But what is it that leads to such harmful behaviors?

Disconnection from one's own body

One of the reasons for overeating is the inability to identify your own bodily sensations. At birth, each person is programmed to recognize the sign of hunger and act accordingly; in that case, cry for food.

However, as time passes, the connection with these interoceptive sensations is lost. This occurs for various reasons. In the first place, because food begins to be associated with meetings, company and interaction with others. Eating is becoming a social and enjoyable act beyond its nutritional value.

On the other hand, today's fast pace of life and stress becomes an impediment to pause and listen to the body. Then, the ability to recognize when there is real hunger and when there is boredom or desire to share that moment of social connection decreases.

Often times, that feeling of not being able to stop eating is the manifestation of underlying emotional problems.

Emotional hunger

Another aspect that prevents you from stopping eating out of desire is emotional eating. This concept refers to the fact of using food as a regulator of emotions. Have you noticed that you eat more when you are anxious, when you are sad, overwhelmed or disappointed?

This has an explanation, and it is that certain foods stimulate the brain's pleasure circuit, since they release several neurotransmitters that produce pleasant sensations. Consequently, when ingesting it, relief, satisfaction and happiness are perceived.

But, unfortunately, this is a temporary state and is by no means an effective or permanent solution. In a short time, the pleasant effects wear off and unresolved emotions reappear, now added to the guilt for having eaten without control.

Restrictive diets

If you have been struggling with your problems with food for a long time, it is likely that you have experienced this paradoxical situation: dieting that is highly restrictive can increase the urge and uncontrolled desire to eat unhealthy foods.

Being embarked on a too rigid eating style, in which foods are forbidden, leads to an increase in anxiety to eat. Because of this, it is impossible to follow the diet without indulging in compulsive eating behaviors.

Even, it may be that shortly after finishing it you will have regained the weight lost with so much effort. And it is that the body asks for what you have withdrawn and restricted so radically.

A diet that is too restrictive can cause a rebound effect. That is, after the diet there is a compulsive behavior of eating what was prohibited.

What can I do to stop eating?

Obviously, eating is essential to survive. For this reason, it is not an activity that you can avoid, as it happens in other types of addictions. The solution in this case is to modify the relationship with food, returning it to its nutritional function and starting a conscious diet.

For this, it is essential, first of all, reconnect with the body and learn to listen and interpret the signals it sends. In other words, it is about recognizing when there is real hunger and when it may be emotional hunger from stress or anxiety.

On the other hand, it is important that you acquire and develop useful and effective coping strategies to deal with your negative emotional states.

The goal is to stop using food as a regulator of emotions, so you have to learn other ways to manage them. Emotional ventilation, therapeutic writing, or meditation practice are helpful alternatives.

Lastly, establish a healthy relationship with food. This means that you have to stop seeing her as an enemy or as a comfort. Remember that food is only the gasoline that your body needs, and learn to select them based on your nutritional needs.

Eat healthy and balanced, without prohibiting or demonizing any food group. Eat in measure and, above all, with awareness of what you are doing.