Why do we eat when we are not hungry?


Ever found yourself walking to the fridge to finish that leftover cake? You had not even decided to eat that cake, and yet you went for the mindless reach to grab a few spoonfuls. Sometimes you surrender to the temptation of eating even though you are already full. You cannot even reason with the fact that you ate too much and you weren’t even hungry. Eating keeps us going, but overeating does just the opposite.

It starts with the weight gain, then progresses into abdominal pain, and eventually adds to ailments that you had previously only heard about. Mindless snacking adds to pounds of weight each year, and if you let things escalate, you might be in for some serious health issues.


Reason 1: Hunger-less snacking

Food makes us feel good. A quick snack can boost our mood and enhance our productivity at the same time. But extra calories are something that we cannot afford in the long term. If we start analyzing the ‘bad habit’ of over-eating, there are always some triggers that you can look out for.


Reason 2: Stress

Stress is known to fill up the body with cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that plays a primary role in the fight or flight system of the body. During a stressful encounter, cortisol acts to refuel the body and makes you want to eat more. If the stress gets exaggerated to a near-constant state, the cortisol levels continuously stay high and keep the body reaching out for more snacks. 


Reason 3: Fatigue

When the body is not able to get ample rest, ghrelin levels shoot up. Ghrelin is a hormone that drives up hunger levels. In this state, another hormone, leptin, which decreases the hunger levels and the desire to eat, goes down. Both the hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, are responsible for controlling the feelings of hunger. A fatigued body gets hungry even when it does not need food. This is where the refrigerator comes to the rescue.


Reason 4: Anxiety

Many researchers have found a strong link between anxiety and eating disorders. People tend to binge-eat when encountering any stress or worry. There are other triggers, including mood disorders, trauma, addiction, and impact from genes, that can induce binge eating, to manage the emotions.


Reason 5: Peer Pressure

Emotional eating can have a lot of reasons. People tend to binge eat when they are feeling down, but that is not the only reason. At times you get caught up in a social event, and you do not mind munching more than necessary. Such events tend to cultivate an obligation to go along with the group. If your peers are trying the new cuisine, you will take a bite only for the company, ignoring the fact that you are not even hungry.


Reason 6: Alcohol

Alcohol is known to put a curtain on good judgment. Having a few drinks can lower inhibitions, including the ability to calculate your food limit. This goes both ways; you can either eat less than required or more than you need. Moreover, the judgment of eating healthy is a far-fetched dream when you consume alcohol. Research suggests that people are more inclined to consume foods that are full of fats and sugar. 


Reason 7: Pictures of food

It so happens that you are watching your favorite cookery show, and your mouth is gurgling with drool. It also happens when you come across an appetizing picture of a food item while scrolling your social media. Studies have shown that people who watch advertisements or digital content with food items in it are more likely to grab and chow down anything that they can put their hands on. 


Reason 8: Learned behavior patterns since childhood

Specific experience during childhood can train people to even hunger. For example, food restriction in early life in girls has been linked to eating habits even when they are not hungry. Research suggests that girls learn to disconnect hunger and eating (when a parent does not allow eating for varied reasons), or they develop the habit of hiding or sneaking food, to avoid a scuffle. Children, who grow in poor financial conditions, eat in the absence of hunger. The reason is that they learn to eat whenever the food becomes available, and there is a good chance that the food is scarce when hunger hits. So, they jump on food whenever they get an opportunity.


Reason 9: Habitual snacking

Habitual snackers are usually stuck in a pattern that is so ingrained that they do not even notice it. A person might have a habit to go for a snack around 4 pm each day, and they will reach out for their snack on the set time, whether they feel the hunger for it or not. Others see a candy box and take one, or they notice cookies on the shelf and do the same. This snacking is constant and adds to extra calories continuously.


How can you stop eating when you don’t have to!

The solution to stop eating without being hungry comes from addressing the problem at the core. If the non-hunger binge eating stems from psychological issues, including stress or anxiety, a good approach is to address the distress by seeking professional help.


You might have read all about the famous 30-days cleanse, but if you are encountering emotional distress, temporary redresses won’t work. Some fixes can help you redirect the urge to eat. The fact remains that the fixes won’t help with the underlying distress but will help you channelize it into something healthier.


You can try hard to make the snacking inconvenient, by not filling the fridge with unhealthy options. Be persuasive to help your brain understand that unhealthy snacking can lead to heart diseases. You can find alternative pleasures like blogging, sewing, scrapbooking, singing, gardening, or walking. You can also try:

  • Going for low-calorie foods
  • Take up a new hobby or join a club
  • Limit foods high in starches and refined sugar
  • Get enough sleep


Obese? Seek help at Be Better Bariatrics

If you have a strong drive to start a healthy life, we can be your support. Be Better Bariatrics is known for advanced endoscopic bariatric procedures that can help you get rid of the extra weight. Our procedures are non-invasive and innovative. The assistance at Be Better Bariatrics starts right at the consultation, and we will guide you throughout the journey. We are here to help you live better. 

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