Whether it’s the holidays, a special occasion or just an ordinary day, overeating has become an epidemic.
Do you overeat? I know, that’s a silly question right, because we all do – from time to time. But, the even more difficult question is, How can we stop overeating?
Actually, several hormones influence hunger and fullness. And this is exactly why motivation to eat less and to lose weight, is often not enough.
Plus, some persons are at an even greater disadvantage since they are more prone to overeating due to genetic factors. In this article, I’ll share 4 simple steps that will help you curb the unhealthy habit of overeating and keep your waistline (and sanity) in check.
What are Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa?
Binge Eating Disorder is an illness where persons frequently overeat in a short period, even when they are not hungry. These persons typically feel as if they lack control when it comes to eating and are often very distressed as a result of their overeating.
On the other hand, persons with Bulimia Nervosa engage in binge eating but then purge the food eaten in an unhealthy way such as vomiting or using laxatives.
But these are the only persons who overeat. We all do, particularly on certain occasions.
Why do we overeat?
We often overeat because eating practices are greatly influenced by their immediate gratification. In fact, the time between the behavior (which is overeating) and the adverse consequences (which is perhaps weight gain) is months or years.
As such, we can easily turn to food because we find it comforting and we immediately get that stress relief.
However, the weight gain and most of the negative health outcomes will likely not occur until much later.
That’s why it’s increasing hard to make healthy choices.
Some persons overeat without even realizing it, often when they are distracted.
Steps to stop overeating
Whatever your reason for overeating, these 4 simple steps that will help you stop overeating
(1) Assess what influences your overeating
(2) Determine what can be changed
(3) Identify the consequences of overeating
(4) Develop techniques for self-control
Read also: Expert tips for a healthy breakfast
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Step 1: Assess what influences your overeating
The first step to stop overeating is to be honest with yourself and figure out what sets off your overeating.
There are 2 steps I want you to follow here.
(a) Firstly, Identify HOW, WHEN, WHERE and WHY you overeat
For instance, do you tend to overeat when you are bored, sad, or stressed?
Do you eat more when you are around certain people or in specific places? Perhaps when you go to the movies or go to a party? At Christmas or Thanksgiving? Is it after you’ve fasted or skipped a meal?
For example, you might be working at your desk and mindlessly eat whatever is in front of you. Or perhaps you’re watching television and end up eating an entire bag of chips without even realizing it. Do you eat more when the portions are large or there is a lot of variety?
Identifying why, where and when you overeat will help you make better choices.
(b) Secondly, Determine your baseline total daily consumption
How much are you eating on a regular day – when you’re no overeating? You need to know how much calories to eat, so that you can make better choices. I’ll do another video on baseline dietary intake so be sure to subscribe so can see more content.
Step 2: Determine what can be changed
We all modifiable risk factors (that we can take measures to change) and non-modifiable risk factors (that we can not change) associated with any habit or disorder.
For instance, you can’t change your genes, but you CAN change how much you eat when you’re with certain people. You CAN’T control what’s available at a party or buffet, but you CAN control how much you put on your plate.
(a) Start by removing distractions during meals
One of the main reasons people overeat is because they eat while they’re distracted – whether it’s working at their desk, watching TV or browsing social media.
If this is you, make a conscious effort to remove distractions during meals to stop overeating. Sit at the table, put away your phone and focus on your food.
(b) Avoid snacking
To stop overeating, try to eat only eat at specific times. This will help you be more mindful of what you’re eating and how much you’re consuming.
(c) Slow down while you’re eating
Another reason you overeat is because you’re eating too quickly. When you eat quickly, your brain doesn’t have time to register that you’re full.
(d) Determine specific portion sizes
Take the time to portion out your food to avoid overeating. If you’re like me and you absolutely hate wasting food, avoid making large portions to begin with because you’ll be more likely to overeat.
Also, avoid forcing your kids to “clean their plate” when they’re already full. Doing this will teach them to listen to their bodies and not make overeating habitual.
(e) Avoid purchasing certain foods
If you know that certain foods trigger your overeating, it’s best to avoid them altogether. For instance, if you can’t control yourself around chips, just don’t buy them!
(f) Prepare healthy substitutes
To avoid overeating, you can also prepare healthy substitutes beforehand. For instance, if you’re craving chips, opt for some nuts instead.
(g) Drink more water
Thirst may be disguised as hunger. So, if you’re feeling the urge to snack, drink a glass of water first and see if that helps. This is a simple but effective strategy to avoid overeating.
Step 3: Identify the consequences of overeating
Identify short and long-term effects overeating has on physical and mental health.
Short-term effects of overeating can include indigestion, heartburn, bloating and fatigue.
In the long-term, overeating can lead to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It can also cause to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Step 4: Develop techniques for self-control
Self-control is a critical life skill that can help you avoid overeating. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to develop techniques for self-control. Here’s how to get started.
(a) Be mindful and setting specific goals
Think about what you want to achieve and be specific. For instance, rather than saying “I will not overeat” say “I will not have seconds at dinner” or “I will not eat anything after dinner.” Write it down.
(c) Measure your progress
To avoid overeating, keep track of how often you’re overeating and the circumstances surrounding it. This will help you see your progress and make necessary changes.
(d) Reward yourself
When you reach your goals, reward yourself! This will help you stay motivated and on track to avoid overeating.
(e) Manage stress, medications, and concomitant diseases
Overeating is often a coping mechanism for stress. So, it’s important to find other ways to manage stress such as going for walk, journaling, exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Certain medications can also cause weight gain. So, if you’re taking medication, speak with your doctor about the possibility of changing to another drug. Please don’t stop your medication without speaking to your doctor.
If you have a concomitant disease that influences your eating habits, make sure to manage it properly.
(f) Seek professional help
If you find that you can’t control your overeating on your own, seek professional help. This could be in the form of therapy, support groups, a nutritionist or coach.
(g) Avoid temptation
Work on avoiding all the situations and places you’ve identified in step 1 that may be causing your overeating.
(h) Get support from family and friends
Family and friends can be a great source of support. Let them know your goal to avoid overeating and ask for their help in reaching them.
Remember, it takes time to change habits. So, be patient with yourself and don’t give up if you lapse. Just get back on track and continue working towards your goal.
Final words on proven steps to avoid overeating
Overeating is a common issue for many people. It can be difficult to resist temptation, especially when unhealthy foods are readily available and marketed aggressively.
However, there are ways to avoid overeating and maintain a healthy weight. The tips we’ve provided should help you get started on the path to healthy eating. Comment below if you have any additional questions or need advice on how to start making healthier choices.
How can I stay motivated to healthy eating?
If you’re like most people, you probably struggle to stay motivated to eat healthy foods. It’s hard to pass up that delicious burger and fries, especially when it’s so easy to just order in or take out.
But eating healthy isn’t about deprivation – it’s about fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to stay strong and energized. Here are a few tips for staying motivated to eat healthy foods.
What are the key ways to improve self-discipline?
Self-discipline is a valuable skill that can help you achieve your goals. However, it’s not always easy to develop and maintain self-discipline. If you want to improve your self-discipline, there are a few key things you need to focus on. Read more.
Eating Recovery Center (2020) Binge Eating Treatment Center & Binge Eating Treatment Facilities | Eating Recovery Center
Eating Recovery Center (2020) Compulsive Overeating Facts | Compulsive Overeating Statistics | Eating Recovery Center
Ferster, C.B., Nurnberger, J.I. and Levtit, E.B. (1996), The Control of Eating. Obesity Research, 4: 401-410.