The Thin Line between Eating and Over Eating

Just think the last time you overate – when was it? What were you feeling – were you worried or anxious or stressed or simply so busy multitasking that you were completely unaware of how much you ate? In my practice as a Nutrition Counselor, I am often asked – ‘how much should do you think I should eat?  Is 1 roti enough or do I need 2?’ And my standard answer is – ‘Do I live inside your stomach? Then how do I know?’

I do understand where most of these people come from – they are often unable to identify the thin line between eating & overeating. And by the time they realize they are full, they have already overeaten!

Do you know why you overeat when worried, anxious, stressed or unaware?

When you are in a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system activates the “fight or flight” response. This is your biological response to stress. Your body shuts down processes such as digestion and increases your heart rate. During fight or flight, the adrenal gland releases cortisol – the stress hormone. Just imagine – when you are eating and your digestive system is actually switched off – because you are stressed – so what happens to the food you eat? How do you get your nourishment?

When you are in this state of fight or flight – your mind is in panic mode – so you are unable to simply enjoy the food in front of you. You need to consume a far larger quantity of food before your brain can register and even begin to relish the food in the mouth!


I thus tell my patients that the secret to know when to stop is that – even before you sit to eat, sit in a relaxed frame of mind. No matter where you are, and what you are doing – when you sit down to eat, leave all your worries aside, say a little prayer, thank the food in front of you – and then focus all your attention to the food in front of you. As you take a bite to eat, focus on the appearance of it, the smell, and the colours. As you put it in your mouth focus on the taste the texture – try and involve all your senses as you eat.  When you are relaxed and eat in awareness – you actually relish every little bite you eat. And you will actually feel satisfied with just the right amount of food you need in that moment.


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