The truth about WHY WE EAT TOO MUCH

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? If your resolve is already wavering, it’s time to explore why so many of us seek comfort in food…

The truth about WHY WE EAT TOO MUCH

by Hope Brotherton |

It’s late, work was stressful, the kids are being a nightmare and everyone on Instagram is having a much better day than you, with their tidy homes and well-behaved teens.

The solution? Curl up on the sofa with Netflix, crisps, chocolate and a glass of wine.

Sound familiar?

According to NHS statistics, one in four adults is affected by obesity, generally caused by us consuming more calories than we burn.

Our lives are sedentary, and we have access to a more abundant range of fatty, sugary foods than ever before.

But why do we eat a family-sized chocolate bar instead of one square? And why do we finish an entire pizza, even after our stomachs are bloated, when we know a salad is the more nutritious option?

Sarah Stein Lubrano believes she has the answer.

She is faculty lead for The School of Life, an organisation that aims to help us find calm, resilience and self-understanding with workshops, games and books.

She says the reason we eat excessively has nothing to do with food.

‘We eat too much because what we’re really hungry for isn’t available,’ she says. ‘Our true appetites desire so much more than food.’

What Sarah is talking about

is our need for emotional fulfilment. And the craving we feel now is often caused by experiences we had in childhood.

Perhaps our mothers were critical, or our fathers withheld affection when we disappointed them. These experiences can cause deeply ingrained patterns of behaviour in which a tub of ice cream can serve as an act of defiance against hurtful memories.

But the comfort we get from eating is short term.

As Sarah says: ‘The tragedy is not our unconstrained appetite. The tragedy is the difficulty we have in accessing the emotional and psychological things that would nourish our complex lives.’

It’s not that big bar of chocolate that we need to have in our lives. What we really need are friendships that make us feel heard and loved.

We need to feel less lonely and angry. We need to feel more nurtured and encouraged.

It’s no accident that the British fast-food industry is worth around £15 billion a year, and the diet industry is worth around £2 billion.

They are linked in a way we’re only just starting to understand.

The truth about WHY WE EAT TOO MUCH

When we go on a diet, we might well lose some weight. Our knees and backs might stop hurting and we may even ward off type 2 diabetes.

Dieting helps us shrink, but it doesn’t help us grow in ways that could improve our wellbeing.

Perhaps this is why 97 per cent of all diets fail.

Sadly, for many, a failed diet can lead to a cycle of weight loss and gain, reduced self-esteem, and weight stigmatisation and discrimination.

We’re an increasingly obese nation, obsessed with size and weight loss, rather than wellbeing.

That is what needs to change.

As Sarah says: ‘We long for understanding, tenderness, forgiveness, connection and closeness. In the last few hundred years, we’ve developed thousands of enticing products to consume.

‘We eat too much, not because we are greedy, but because we live in a world where the shelves are still bare of the real ingredients we crave.’

Edited by Kim Willis

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