12 Reasons Why People Overeat

12 Reasons Why People Overeat

True hunger, the desire
to seek out enough energy and nutrients to meet
your body’s basic needs, is a hardwired evolutionary
survival mechanism. So, what is it that causes
us to consume food beyond, often way beyond, what is good for us? Let’s find out. (upbeat music) Hey, Carb Dodgers, my
name is Dr Dan Maggs. I’m so glad you’ve landed on my channel. I help people achieve lasting weight loss through low-carb, real food nutrition. If that’s something that
would be of interest to you, I’d love to have you onboard. Just hit the Subscribe button
and click that little bell to get notified whenever
I release a new video. Strange question, have you
ever had the overwhelming urge to lick an ashtray? Sounds disgusting, right? But back when I was in my final
year of training to be a GP, that’s exactly what one of
my patients came in with. Now, as you can imagine,
she was pretty embarrassed about the whole thing. She wasn’t a smoker,
she really didn’t like what she was doing, but she
had this overwhelming urge to lick ashtrays and eat cigarette ash. Now, I’d never seen
anything like this before, so I asked one of my senior
colleagues for some advice and they said, “Why don’t
you run some blood tests?” And sure enough, it
came out that this woman had a pretty severe
iron-deficiency anemia. So, her cravings to lick the
ashtray were her body’s way of going about trying to get the nutrients that she needed into her body. And it turns out that
this kind of behavior, whilst rare, is well-documented. Needless to say, she
much preferred the taste of the iron tablets that I gave her and she stopped licking ashtrays. You’ll probably be far more familiar with the unusual cravings
that many women experience during pregnancy. Pregnancy is very demanding on the body and a lot of good nutrition is needed, and cravings are thought
to be one of the ways that the body seeks to satisfy some of its nutritional needs. So, our bodies are hardwired
to change our behavior to satisfy our basic nutritional needs, even if this does sometimes present itself in pretty unusual ways. And just as we have these
systems within our body to stop us under-consuming nutrients, you’d think that we have some systems within our body to stop us
overconsuming nutrients, and to a certain extent, we do. It just so happens that
these are fairly weak and easily overridden. And it’s only relatively
recently in human evolution that we’ve really had
an abundance of food, so we’ve never really evolved to deal with an excess of nutrition. So, what is it that causes people to go beyond this innate sense of hunger? Let’s find out. Number one, conscious overeating. Conscious overeating would involve making a conscious decision to eat despite not actually being hungry. Now, just because this is a
conscious decision doesn’t mean it’s a good decision, and
many people force down food despite not actually being
hungry under false belief that it is important to do so. And you might think, why
would anybody force down food when they’re not hungry? But for many people, breakfast is one of those times when
they’re not actually hungry but they believe it’s
the right thing to do and so eat anyway. Myself included, I used
to force down breakfast every morning despite
not actually being hungry on the false belief that
breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Now, breakfast is a bit
of a decisive subject, and I know that some of you
are already getting ready to get into the comments and say, but I am hungry in the morning, I really like to eat breakfast. Great, I want you to comment. In fact, I’d like to survey everybody who’s watching this video to find out whether they are actually
hungry or not in the morning. Just type Hungry or Not Hungry in the comments down below this video. Right, have you done that? Great, let’s get on with the video. And so, breakfast, whether you love it or hate it, has long been marketed as the most important meal of the day, and that it’s absolutely critical to get your metabolism going. And you’ll also probably notice that many of the cereal
manufacturers also sell brunch bars so that you don’t go hungry mid-morning. And conscious overconsumption
doesn’t end there. Think of those sugary sports drinks that you’re told that you
need to have after exercise. Now, unless you’re an elite athlete with specific nutritional needs, you probably don’t need
that sugary recovery drink. So, there’s a lot of
misinformation out there about when to eat and what is healthy,
and a lot of that comes from marketers within the food industry. Number two is eating for pleasure. Now, I hope it doesn’t
come as a surprise to you, but food is nice, and eating
food is very pleasurable, and the nicer that food is, the more likely we are to overconsume it. And on a certain level,
it can be as simple as, I’m not really hungry,
but there’s a cake there. I like cake; I want to eat that cake, and so I’m going to eat that cake. Do we really need to drink
anything other than water? Absolutely not, but we do, and we do so because it’s pleasurable. One of the chemicals
in our brain, dopamine, plays a significant role in
pleasure-seeking behavior, and the more pleasurable a food, the bigger the dopamine hit and
the more likely we are to go and seek that food out. So, what makes food
particularly pleasurable? Now, it’s usually a combination of different flavor
factors blended together in a certain way: a certain
amount of sweetness, a certain amount of saltiness, and a certain amount of fattiness. Think of a buttery salted caramel. Texture is also really
important, for example. Think of the way that chocolate
is solid at room temperature but melts in your mouth. And food scientists have
gotten really, really good at playing with these different factors to make food as perfect
as possible, really. They call it the bliss point. And there are research and
development departments within food companies that are
really good at giving us food that we just wanna eat more and more of. Now, this is great for a food company that wants to sell more and more food, but the result is ultra-processed food, which are very high in refined
carbohydrates, high in fat, and very energy-dense, at the same time offering very little in
the way of real nutrition. And this kind of food just happens to be the very worst kind
of food for the human body, and eventually leads to weight gain and sets us on a pathway
towards type 2 diabetes. Ultra-processed, hyper-palatable
foods are everywhere, and they’re often very cheap when compared to unprocessed, healthier foods. You often don’t have to cook them. You just open up the
packet and away you go. Number three is reward. Many people will have grown
up with food being used as a reward for good behavior, and dopamine’s really,
really important here. Ultimately, we learn that good behavior equals a dopamine hit. Exercise is often used as a justification for reward-based overeating,
but unfortunately, despite what we’re frequently told, we can’t simply replace calories
brunt with calories earned. Unfortunately, the body
just doesn’t work like that. But even if it could, people are known to massively overestimate the amount of calories burned in the gym
when compared to the amount of calories in the food they’re
rewarding themselves with. Number four is habitual eating. In a perfect world, true
hunger would have us eating only when we’re hungry and
drinking only when we’re thirsty, but in reality, we usually
eat when we always eat and we usually drink when we eat as well, and these are learned responses, which are strengthened by repetition. Going back to the breakfast
example I used earlier, eventually, I made my body
hungry in the morning, and if you eat a large
meal at 7 p.m. every night, then your body is gonna prepare for a large meal at 7 p.m. every night. But importantly, these learned responses can actually be unlearned. And much to many people’s surprise, if that meal never actually comes, the hormone levels that
are making you hungry will drop down. You don’t just keep getting more and more hungry until the meal comes. Number five is food addiction. Now, whether you can or can’t be addicted to food in the same way
that people are addicted to other substances like
narcotics is a source of great debate amongst
doctors and scientists, but I’m really not gonna get into that because, quite frankly, it is boring. What is pretty obvious
is that people do show addiction-like behavior around food. So, currently, there is no true
diagnosis of food addiction, but I just wanna run through the criteria that I use for diagnosing
substance addiction. All you need to do is
just change substance for food or sugar, or something like that. Number one, do you have
cravings to use the substance? Number two, do you want
to cut down or stop but can’t manage to? Number three, are you
taking this substance in larger amounts or for
longer than you meant to? Number four, are you neglecting
other parts of your life because of substance use? Number five, are you continuing to use it despite it causing
problems in your relationships? Number six, are you using substances even when it puts you in danger? Now, you can probably see how the last few of those only really apply
to alcohol and narcotics use, but I’m pretty sure that a number of the earlier ones will definitely apply to most people who are
watching this video. And much of this comes back
to the dopamine response; it’s all about pleasure-seeking behavior. Number six is dehydration. Now, I’m pretty sure
you’ve heard this one. If you think you’re hungry, you’re probably actually thirsty. Now, when I was researching this video, I wanted to find out whether
this was actually true or whether it’s just one
of those pieces of advice that is so common and
overused we just believe it to be true. And I can’t actually find
any hard scientific evidence to say that our brains
confuse thirst and hunger. Now, the absence of evidence doesn’t mean that it isn’t true; it might
have just not been studied. So, hey, if this works for you, then that’s absolutely great, but what I did find out is that
those hyper-processed foods do actually weaken our thirst response. Personally, I’m much more aware of my thirst since I cut out junk food and significantly restricted
my carbohydrate intake, and many of my clients
report the same thing. Number seven is emotional eating. Emotional eating is a huge
problem for a lot of people. Whether it’s through grief,
distress, depression, or anxiety, food is a big coping mechanism for many, many people, and
it’s often a vicious cycle because the comfort eating
often leads to weight gain, which lead to negative feelings
towards your own body image, which can lead to, again, more overeating. It’s really, really important that not only do people
get appropriate treatment for mood problems that they might have but that people actually develop non food-related coping strategies. Number eight is stress. The relationship between stress and food varies very
much between individuals. Mild stress can lead to
significant overeating, where very commonly, when
people get very, very stressed, it often leads to reduced eating. But when people do eat, they tend to go for those hyper-palatable,
quick-hit kind of foods, and there is a strong correlation
between increased levels of the stress hormone
cortisol and snacking. Number nine is sleep deprivation. It’s well known that when sleep
goes down, weight goes up. When people are sleep deprived, they are known to have higher levels of the hormones that make us hungry. People make significantly worse
decisions about their food after a poor night’s sleep, and
this is really a big problem for people who work shifts. Number 10 is cultural overeating. Cultural eating can take many forms. One thing I see really,
really commonly in places where I work is cake culture. It’s Susan’s birthday, and
Susan has brought a load of donuts in for everybody to
enjoy and celebrate with her. It would be rude not to. And there’s no denying
that there’s a lot of love and good sentiment that goes behind Susan bringing those donuts in. But the larger your workplace,
the more birthdays there are, which adds up to a lot
of donuts over time. And of course, the festive
seasons are typically a time for significant cultural overeating. Particularly, in the UK, Christmas is seen as a very gluttonous time. In fact, there are some studies that show that the majority of people’s
weight gain in a year happens around the Christmas period, and there is a significant
correlation between the number of social events attended
over the Christmas period and increased weight. It can sometimes feel like
there’s always something cultural going on where we
need to celebrate with food, be it Easter, be it Valentine’s Day, be it Thanksgiving in the United States, and many of these cultural
events relate back to religious feast days. These used to be balanced with fast days, however, these seem to
have been long forgotten in our modern culture. Number 11 is obesity itself. Yes, being overweight can itself lead to increased overeating, and
there are several reasons why this is. Firstly, people who are
obese need to eat more to get that same hit of
dopamine than someone who is of a normal body weight. Secondly, being overweight can lead to negative feelings
about your own body image, which, as we mentioned earlier,
can lead to comfort eating. But people with obesity often
have a hormonal condition called insulin resistance. Now, in a nutshell, that
means they need more insulin to do the same amount of work as someone who is not insulin resistant. And if you are obese,
you have plenty of energy stored all over your
body in the form of fat, but you can’t access that because
insulin levels are raised, keeping your body in fat storage mode, and this is one of the
main reasons that people who are obese often feel
hungry most of the time. Number 12 is the dietary
guidelines themselves. If you’re watching this
anywhere in the Western world, it’s likely that your dietary guidelines look a little something like this. Eat plenty of whole grain
carbohydrates, eat some protein, and eat very little fat. Now, whilst a tiny group
of people really seem to do quite well on
this dietary guideline, many, many people really
struggle to follow it. And I always hear people saying that it’s not the dietary
guidelines that’s the problem, it’s that people don’t stick to it, but why don’t they stick to it? It’s because they can’t stick to it, because it’s an unsustainable diet that humans aren’t designed to eat. There was never any scientific evidence to support the introduction of the low-fat dietary
guidelines in the 1970s. It was largely politically motivated. Low-fat diets, for many
people, simply don’t work. Fat is an essential nutrient,
unlike carbohydrates, and fat is very filling,
and for overweight people who have established insulin resistance, continuing to consume a
high-carbohydrate diet is only gonna make the problem worse. Okay, rant over. That is it for today’s video. You’ve got 12 reasons
there why we overeat. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. I hope you found it useful. If you have, please give it a thumbs up. If you’ve got any thoughts
about what I’ve said or think I’ve missed something out, then please, leave a comment
down below the video. If you wanna find out
when I release new videos, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel and hit the bell to get a notification. Until then, have a great week.

69 thoughts on “12 Reasons Why People Overeat

  1. Since starting carb dodging, I’ve recognised I’m actually very rarely hungry in the mornings! And when I do eventually eat (usually around 11am), I tend to go for protein, or whatever my body’s craving, rather than eating typical ‘breakfast’ foods. Thanks for the informative video Dan!

  2. I also am not hungry in the morning. I am doing three things. Low carb, 18/6 intermittent fasting, and "apple cider vinegar with the mother" morning and night. I have noticed that if I'm hungry before I drink the ACV, shortly after drinking it I am not. And when I wake up I am not. I eat two small meals and drink an Adkins shake as a snack during the six hour window from 10am to 4pm and then the fast begins.

  3. Not hungry.
    Add to emotional eating: boredom. I am retired on disability largely (heh) due to obesity. Despite the marvels of modern communication with internet and entertainment, the walls do close in a bit.
    The boredom makes it much harder to resist when the cravings come.

  4. am 45. never ever could i swallow any food in the morning. even as a child when mom forced us kids have toast and milk or tea, i just couldn't . (but the extra sweet coffee and sodas i couldn't skip once i started smoking, make up and exceed the puny extra calories a toast and tea would have give me lol) EDIT: on food addiction; sugar cravings are real. also i always used to munch on something at all times, and since i stopped smoking, it got worse, am always looking for something to chew, you can say that i eat out of nothing better to do. Am not being fat, never been, but i realized there's a "dad belly" trying to pop out and over my abs, so i started exercise and try find a healthy diet i could follow.

  5. I Think family culture is one to consider if you are a miner or rely on another person to supply your food/drinks, you may not have many options on your daily food/drink intake. There is a culture in many families to eat large meals around the table, largely made of fried, high carb, processed foods and sugary drinks, even if one is not hungry you are expected to eat, as you do not want to upset the cook. Educational limits on healthy food prep, limited access to healthy food and budget restrains. Thanks for another informative well delivered Video looking forward to the next as well as revisiting the old to refresh the grey matter.

  6. Not hungry. Have not eaten breakfast for about five years. If I have a carb rich meal in the evening, I occasionally have a little morning hunger but it's easy to ignore and disappears after a cup of coffee with a little cream.

  7. Seems I'm the minority. Keto since April forcing IF practice and still hungry in the morning. I've moved my eating window to accommodate and stop eating for the day at 5pm

  8. Man…I feel like so many of those points apply to me.

    I am making small changes though…meditation is becoming my “go to coping mechanism” for stress. Rather than eating. 🙂

    Great video as always Dan.

  9. In the US we have back to back Thanksgiving and Xmas follow up with New Years dinner, then about 3 mos we have Easter Oh don't forget Super bowl parties, then Bar b que season begins with memorial day and 4th of July, then comes Labor day and Halloween. The cycle starts all over again. Hoping after 68 years the Keto lifestyle will help to break the cycle.

  10. Did you refer the woman to see a psychologist who licked ash trays? I don't care what's wrong with me, I would never lick a nasty, ger m ridden toxic chemical substance, ever!

  11. I got onto low carb by listening to Carl Denninger with regards to economics and politics. He's and engineer, entrepreneur type and extremely bright….but he did some research on this very topic coming at it from the same perspective as most of us. Follow what he government says to eat, exercise and get fat. WTF? Well, I went low carb and his advice and since doing so, I don't eat breakfast simply because I am not hungry. its that simple. I travel for work, all the hotels have free breakfast….I don't go down for it or, I'll join my colleagues and have coffee only. I have ZERO urge to eat till about noon.

    I've also lost 16Kg and am still falling…over 4 years and not dieting, not exercising, just by changing what I eat.


  12. not hungry… never hungry in am… when i started drinking keto coffee this is the most i ever had for breakfast and sometimes i can't consume this in morning it's just few times a week

  13. Not hungry, in fact feel slightly nauseous every morning for years. On keto diet 3 months – eat first meal 4pm BUT then feel like eating most of the evening even though stomach physically full. Is this habit from carb addicted days or still addicted to carbs?
    Could be insulin resistance – not lost enough weight! 84kg down to 75kg waist:height ratio .54.

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