4 effective ways to overcome overeating

Can't stop eating until all of the delicious food is gone?

This is something that most of my clients struggle with on a daily basis – and I used to struggle with this myself. 

I would eat way past the point of fullness every night, and I simply could not get myself to stop. Plus when I ate something “naughty” – all hell broke loose. I would think to myself: “Heck, I’ve already cheated, I might as well just go all out and restart tomorrow.”

To compensate for all of this night-time bingeing, I would eat as restrictively as I could throughout the day. Coffee took the place of snacks when I felt hungry, and I skipped the carbs & fat at lunch time. 

Pretty soon I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle of restrict-binge-repeat…and even though it felt like I was restricting 80% of the time, my weight kept creeping up. 

The bingeing was out-weighing the restricting, and I felt completely out of control with food.

Thankfully, after many years of trial and error, I figured out a way to break this vicious cycle. Naturally, my weight adjusted too – and I found my set point

These experiences inspired me to start the Empowered Eating Academy – where I teach women how to heal from chronic dieting & overeating / binge eating.

P.S. you can book a free 30 minute Game-Plan call if you are interested in learning more about the Empowered Eating Academy online program! Click the button below!

Steps that you can take to overcome overeating

Overcoming overeating / binge eating can be really tough, because there are often multiple factors contributing to the problem. For example, emotions, stress, lack of sleep, and body image issues are all common underlying factors. For this reason, a multi-factorial, individualized approach is often required. 

That being said, one of the BIGGEST overeating driving forces is dietary restriction (or dieting). Your body essentially interprets restriction as a famine, and it responds by ramping up your appetite. Addressing this one factor can go a long way to helping you to escape the urge to binge on that bag of cookies in your kitchen cupboard. 

So here are a few strategies that I recommend you put into place to help you to ditch that restrictive dieting mindset – and the urge to overeat – so that you can find your set point weight:

1. Eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day

So many of my clients under-eat throughout the day. They suppress their hunger, skip meals, or fill up on low-calorie foods (such as diet drinks / foods, salad without dressing, etc.). The consequence is that by the time late afternoon / evening comes, they are ravenous. They head straight to the kitchen and snack on anything that they can find. Dinner time becomes an overeating frenzy, and then the whole cycle repeats the next day.

My top tip is to aim to eat every 3 – 4 hours (as this aligns with your digestive rhythms). Keep your body nourished and the urge to overeat will be much less intense. 

Aim to include some carbs, protein and fats with your main meals. Choose snacks that are filling, such as fruit paired with yogurt and / or a handful of nuts. 

2. Learn to listen to your hunger & fullness cues

Once you’ve gotten your body into a routine of eating regular meals, start tuning in to your hunger and fullness cues. This can be challenging at first – especially if you’ve been dieting for many years. But hang in there, and keep listening. Those cues will eventually come back. Start making some gentle changes to your meal timings, based on those cues. For example, maybe you notice that you aren’t really hungry at lunch time yet, so you delay for another hour. Or maybe you notice that you are full half-way through your meal, so you decide to store the rest for later.

The beauty of listening to your body, is that your body will adapt your  hunger and fullness cues based on external factors. For example, if you start exercising, you may start feeling hungrier than usual. If you spend the day on the couch, you will likely feel less hungry.

Learn to listen to the wisdom of your own body. It’s a wonderful, flexible way to honour your health without dieting.

3. Bring mindfulness & conscious awareness to your meals. 

Mindfulness is a powerful strategy that can help you to stop overeating / bingeing AND get more enjoyment out of your meals. When you enjoy your food, you feel more satisfied at the end of a meal. And when you feel more satisfied, you are less likely to keep snacking and grazing.

My favourite mindfulness tip is to simply ask yourself: “How does the food taste?”. You can also try to slow down by putting your knife and fork down between bites. We often eat on autopilot – shoving in one bite after another, and we forget to taste & enjoy our meal. The consequence is that we overeat, because it takes roughly 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach the brain.  

4. Plan a relaxing & enjoyable activity for after the meal

We often tend to overeat because – on a subconscious level – we are trying to avoid that feeling of sadness that we experience when the meal is over. Trouble is, the meal has to end at some point, right? We can’t completely escape that post-meal sadness. In fact, by overeating we only end up feeling worse – guilty, uncomfortable, annoyed with ourselves…

When we take a step back, we might notice that this feeling of post-meal sadness is fleeting. It only lasts for a few moments. It’s OK to let ourselves feel sad for a bit. But then instead of obsessing over another slice of lasagna, we can choose to move on. This is easier when we have another activity planned – something that we are looking forward to and that will give us pleasure – e.g. drinking a cup of cocoa while reading a good book; doing something creative; or taking a warm bath.

Ready to take bold action to heal your relationship with food?

You might be a great fit for the Empowered Eating Academy – a 10-week online program where I can help you to implement all of this (and honestly, so much more).

If you are interested in joining, click the button below to book a free call with me. This call will give us an opportunity to decide whether we are a great fit to work together. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Marna Oettle, RD (BSc Med Hons Nutrition & Dietetics; BSc Psychology; MSc Physiology)

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