Why do we eat so much? The age-old question that I just found the answer to!
We eat for multiple reasons obviously. The most obvious being that our bodies need food to survive. Second, to that, eating is a huge part of socialising and thirdly being that we just love to eat! Simple as that.
But why do we eat more than we need to or more than we should? Why do we go for the bold option rather the healthy guilt-free option?
It will surprise you to learn that it’s not just our personal desires that make us eat more than we should or eat unhealthy foods. It’s not just gluttony or because we think, well life’s too short to not eat what we want! It’s actually ingrained in all of us. Human behavior expert Mark Leary explains that we’re conditioned to eat more than we should for specific reasons and we are also conditioned to eat bad food over good food.
So why do we eat so much?
The reason we eat so much stems back to the beginning of mankind. Just like animals, we ate when there was food available to us and filled up as much as possible out of fear that our next meal time was not guaranteed.
This is why we still overeat to this day! (I knew there had to be a reason why I overeat) Granted we’re all well aware that we don’t need to overeat and for most, we know when our next meal is. But it is ingrained in our psyche to eat as much as can, while we can. So we still do this all the time.
Other things contribute to overeating also, such as; emotional eating, boredom, eating more in groups, occasions, greed etc. but the fact remains that after thousands of years we are still conditioned to overeat.
Why we eat bad food over good food?
The reason we reach for high fat, sugary foods over leafy greens or plain tasting foods links to the reason we eat so much.
Take a step back to the beginning of mankind and imagine this scenario; You’re a caveman or cave women and you’re living in the wild, like an animal. (You Tarzan, me Jane). You’re surrounded by plant life and healthy natural food sources that are easily accessible and abundant. So you graze and nibble on light healthy food sources whenever you feel like it.
Now imagine catching a fish, taking down a large animal or coming across an unusual fruit that’s high in sugar. Foods you might never see again or come by anytime soon.
Naturally, you are going to gorge on the sugary high-fat foods. Because they give you a natural high and make you feel full and content for longer than the plant foods. Again, eating sugary or high-fat foods is in fact ingrained in our pysche.
We now know that fatty sugary foods bad for us. And we know that leafy greens are healthier but we simply want the bad option, just like we did thousands of years ago. Granted more reasons come into play, like greed, routines of eating these types of foods, sugar cravings etc. But there is still a part of our brain that tells us to go for it in case we regret it. (God forbid lol)
Did you know that the reason we find it harder to keep weight off and the reason we eat even more in Winter is also ingrained in our psyche? Our bodies tell us to put on extra weight during Winter to keep us warm. Again, this is what our bodies needed back when we were living in the wild. So it makes sense that we would naturally gain weight in Winter and find it easier to lose weight for Summer.
Taking all the above into account. Try not to feel guilty next time you eat more than you think you should. Or go for the burger over the salad. And remember that extra layer of fat in the Winter is keeping you warm!
Sources: Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior – Mark Leary.