Updated: May 6
Overeating is something many of my clients complain about and so many of us struggle with, especially during the festivities.
Does this ring a bell?
✔️You intended to NOT overeat
✔️You really wanted to NOT overeat
✔️You made a commitment to yourself to NOT overeat
✔️You made a commitment to others to NOT overeat
And once again, you have found yourself eating well beyond your fullness cues – you are, in fact, even so stuffed you can’t even understand why you did it.
Well the first thing to do is to not despair. Try to understand WHY instead.
And before I dive into some of the main reasons you may be overeating, let’s just get this clear
✨IT IS NOT BECAUSE YOU LACK WILLPOWER OR DISCIPLINE
✨IT IS NOT BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE IS BETTER AT THESE THINGS AND YOU JUST AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH
✨IT IS NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING ANYTHING WRONG
Read those three statements back to yourself over and over again until you truly feel it.
Now let’s look at some of the most common reasons people overeat.
✨Lack of awareness
These days we are often not present when we eat and instead eat on-the-go, in the car, whilst working in front of the computer, watching TV or snacking whilst cooking the kids dinner. If we’re not paying attention to eating neither, is the brain, meaning it won’t register the pleasure and nourishment we should feel from eating so although we are not physically hungry, the brain can still feel deprived and hungry. Start by bringing attention back to your plate and yourself. Awareness is the first step to change.
Skipping meals can wreak havoc on our hormones. Unless we are doing it intentionally as a part of time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting (see my complete guide on how to do it safely here), the chances are that as soon as we start eating, we’ll go overboard. Our bodies crave homeostasis and balance – and skipping meals can make blood sugars crash and tell the brain it needs to compensate by overeating.
That we sometimes eat when we’re stressed may not come as a surprise but did you know that we often eat as a way to destress?
Within 30 seconds of chewing and swallowing food, the brain sends chemicals that allow us to relax. Eating is that quick fix that can become addictive – especially sugar (but that’s a whole other chapter).
If you have a lot on your plate (pun intended!) and the cravings return – check your stress levels first and try journaling, meditating, or even talking to a friend before reaching for food to feel better.
✨Feeling unsettled/dealing with a life change or crisis
If there’s something going on in our lives or there’s a sudden change, we can have a tendency to reach for food to feel safe. Literally weighing ourselves down by eating more can bring about a sense of calm and make us feel more grounded, but as always this is only temporary. As soon as we stop eating, that feeling will pass and we will still have to face whatever is ahead of us. As we repeat this pattern in response to emotional instability, it can become of a form of coping mechanism and escape from problems which then becomes habitual. But just because this has become a pattern, this has nothing to do with WHO YOU ARE and labeling yourself as an overeater will only perpetuate the problem. Instead, ask yourself what basic human need is not being met? Love? Significance? Connection? Growth?
✨ Lack of pleasure
Lastly, not having enough pleasure in our lives can lead to us replacing it with food. How many times have you eaten something because you were simply bored? I know my kids ask for food ALL THE TIME when they’re bored.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this once in a while, i.e. fun eating is fine as long as we acknowledge that it is what is. Once in a while ok but when it becomes an everyday activity, the pleasure begins to die. Look for other things that bring your joy other than food and incorporate these and begin to flip the switch from food. Start today by making a list of at least 20 things you enjoy doing that don’t involve food.
What I want you to take away from this is that restricting the diet is not the way to stop overeating simply because eating is the symptom, not the problem. It’s a messenger from the brain that tells us to do something.
✨Pay attention to your patterns
✨Get to know YOU
✨Be kind and loving towards yourself
Ask yourself - when did this begin, what triggers you in your daily life, how do you feel after?
Does this resonate with any of you?
If you want more support with overeating, contact me to discuss your needs. I would love to help!
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If you are ready to free yourself of cravings and yo-yo dieting, get the lowdown here on what really works with my FREE e-book: 10 secrets to lasting weight loss.
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