Eat More to Help You Eat Less

Ever since the 1950s and 1960s dietary fat scare, American society has been conned into believing that anything that has fat in it should be eliminated from your diet. And, thanks to constant propaganda, many people and companies have taken full advantage of our psyches to maximize on this message. During the last 50 or 60 years, we’ve seen diets like the Adkins Diet, the Grape Fruit Diet, the Zone diet, Weight Watchers, the Potato Diet, and a number of other systems that promise health and longevity.

When you look at it, though, there’s a reason why there are so many different avenues to pursue, so many different diets to available to try. And as restrictive as diets are, is it truly helping you reach or ultimate goal? Or are these options just pushing you to jump from diet to diet because of chronic failure?

There may a solution to the problem of chronic dieting, and it’s most likely not what you think it is. But, until we get to that point, let’s find out a little more about how chronic dieting has an impact on more than just our physical health.

The Underlying Cause of Weight Gain

Stress eating is something that has been talked about a lot in the past few years. And many of you may label yourself as stress eaters. In fact, we are all stress eaters to some extent. It’s just a matter if you have a tendency to overeat when you’re stressed, or if you have a tendency to under eat when you stress.

The technical term for under eating is hypophagia. For most dieters, they are in a constant state of hypophagia. Because they’re jumping from diet to diet, constantly restricting the things that they’re eating, they are rarely getting the nutrients their body needs in order to function properly (and certainly not enough to allow itself to shed the excess weight).

Hyperphagia, on the other hand, is the technical term for overeating. Most people would blame hyperphagia for the obesity epidemic we have on our hands in America (when I say epidemic, I don’t think that our society truly grasps the impact that obesity is having on our health and the growing number of people, and especially adolescents, that have chronic diseases due to obesity. I’ll talk more about this in another article>). And they would be mostly right. Hyperphagia is the primary cause of weight gain (coupled with inactivity).

The underlying cause that no one is really looking at, though, is slightly less obvious. Let’s get back to the topic of stress eating. Like I said, many people blame their weight gain (or lack of weight loss) to stress eating. Stress eating to most people is hyperphagia, over eating. And those people would be right. If you are “eating healthy” most of the time, and over eating when you’re stressed, it’s less likely that you’re going to be able to achieve your health and vitality goals.

But, what really causes someone to overeat when they’re stressed verse someone who under eats when they’re stressed? I imagine you’ve never really thought about this. The answer is dieting.

Why Dieting Causes You to Overeat

Like I mentioned earlier in this article, people who are dieters or in a constant state of hypophagia. They’re always restricting what they eat because they’re constantly jumping from diet to diet. Restriction is something that is naturally associated with dieting (this is partly why people fail on diets. Because they believe they cannot eat the things that they want to eat. And us humans hate when people tell us when can’t do something. Try telling a toddler that they can’t have their toy back and see what kind of reaction you get). And when your body is in a constant state of restriction, suddenly when you add stress to the mix, your body’s chemical processes are going to start to take over.

So when you are a constant dieter, and you are confronted with a time of constant stress, your body will start to yell out for foods that make you happy and satiated. If, on the other hand, you over eat on a regular basis and enter a state of over stress, your body will tell you to slow down on the food intake. The actual response that your body is giving you in these stressful times is simply its natural survival response. It wants more food in stressful times IF you are typically under eating, and it wants less food in stressful times IF you are over eating.

What You Can Do To Eliminate the Stress Response

As you can see, stress eating has a very biological driver to it. We think that we just naturally crave sweets when we’re stressed, when really it’s your body telling you to give it something full of calories to help it survive. Reducing the likelihood of falling into this trap is easy enough if you follow a few simple steps.

Understand, it’s not what you only do in those times of stress. It’s what you do leading up to those times of stress that’s important. You have to practice in order to prepared for game time. So here are 3 things that you can do to keep your body happy and be prepared when stress pops up in your life:

#1) Eat Enough Calories for Your Level of Activity

Have you ever heard the saying “calories in verse calories out” when it comes to weight gain and weight loss. Well, eliminate that saying from your vocabulary. This thought process leads too many people to under eat and not achieve the goals that they want to achieve. I can’t tell you the number of times I have members tell me that they have a stick of celery for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and a couple of handfuls of nuts for dinner, and wonder why they’re not losing weight. Your body needs energy, so don’t be afraid to give it. Especially if you’re starting to exercise or work a job where you’re moving constantly.

The simplest thing you can do (and what I see most lacking when I talk to members) is increasing you dietary protein intake. Yes, veggies are the grandmaster of nutrients, and I will never take that away. But you need substance, and a great way to increase your substance is by increasing dietary protein.

#2) Quit Dieting and Start Building a Lifestyle

Dieting has some very distinct connotations. For instance, dieting to most people means temporary. And when you’re doing something temporarily, it doesn’t become part of your life. Quality nutrition is something that should be a part of your life constantly. I regularly hear people tell me that, if they were an athlete, then they would eat right and train hard, because then they would have something to work towards. This makes no sense to me. What do you think life is?!?! Life is your game. Life is what you’re training for. Life is you ONE chance to do what you can to make an impact on this world. So why would you not build the best body you can and achieve ultimate vitality so that you can help as many people as you can while you’re around?!?!?! (Stepping off soapbox)

#3) Remember Pareto’s Law

Pareto’s Law tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% for our efforts. We can twist this around a bit and apply it to nutrition as well. In nutrition, you should eat 100% clean, 80% of the time. The other 20% is up to you. Don’t go off the deep end with your 20%. But this will allow you to build in a meal or 2 where you can eat what you want and not feel guilty about it. And that’s okay. We just had my Mom’s birthday and my sister made butter cake (yes…butter cake). Do you think I sat there and watched everybody eat it? Not likely. Allow yourself to indulge every once and while so that you don’t have that huge break down when stress comes along.

Stress and eating will continue to be a hot topic in the coming years. Our understanding on how stress impacts our food choices and food intake will constantly change and adapt over time. For now, you can adapt these 3 simple tools to help eradicate to possibility of over eating from stress.



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Jerry F. Scarlato

Entrepreneur, Fitness Coach, Performance Specialist, Speaker, Author, cook, endless learner. Check more out: