Envision a bronze roasted turkey, well-placed in the center of the table, surrounded by beautiful casseroles of assorted meats and vegetables, scalding soups, and mouth-watering family recipes passed down for generations.
This feast-like illustration is the typical scene at an `Eid Al-Fitr gathering, especially as an aftermath of a month of fasting! While there is nothing wrong with eating nor with enjoying food for that matter, this picture is just a bit too much.
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Psychology Behind Overeating
With consumerism booming and restaurants at every corner, this is the plentiful approach we have for eating these days. While the specific psychology behind overeating differs from one individual to another, there are certain common triggers that cause people to stuff themselves.
Portage Path Behavioral Health, a professional health care company that specializes in behavioral health identifies five key psychological triggers to overeating:
Social Triggers: When people are encouraged by those around them to eat, “in attempt to fit in, or in an attempt to mask feelings of inadequacy in social situations.”
Situational Triggers: Eating because of the surroundings whether it is popcorn at the cinema or a candlelit dinner. Almost all social occasions have a time for food cut out if not completely revolving around it.
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Physiological Cues: Interpreting our bodily cues requires skill and discipline. Tiredness can mean a lack of energy and thus justify food intake, and it can also merely mean lack of exercise.
Negative Thoughts: Low self-esteem and the need to conform to the pressure of societal standards can sometimes lead to overeating or “binge eating.”
Emotional Triggers: Subconsciously eating because of emotions such as “anger, depression, loneliness, guilt, jealousy, and even happiness … anxiety, disappointment, emptiness, grief, procrastination, fear or boredom.”
If we examine our own eating motives, many of us will find ourselves easily straddling all five triggers.
Identifying true hunger and not giving in to these false alarms are very important if we want to regulate our food intake. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
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“A person fills no vessel worse than his [or her] stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him [or her] the strength he [or she] needs. If he [or she] has to fill his [or her] stomach, then let him [or her] leave one-third for food, one-third for drink, and one-third for air.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah).