Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more self-control around food? That you could have “just one bite” and be satisfied? That you could stop overeating? That you could quiet all the food noise in your mind? That you could listen to and honor your body’s hunger cues?
If you said yes to any of the above, don’t stress. And please know there’s nothing wrong with you!
Overeating can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe it's a restrictive diet or meal plan that can leave you feeling deprived and lead to overeating. Maybe you’re stressed or lacking sleep so you reach for food as a source of comfort. Of perhaps you’re so hungry that we you eat quickly without even hearing your body say it's full. Whatever the reason, the steps below are a good place to start in order to stop the cycle of overeating.
1. Write down your ideal relationship with food.
Take 5-10 minutes, close your eyes and get a really clear picture of where you want your relationship with food to be a few months from now. Do you want to constantly be stressing about the amount of food you should/shouldn’t eat? Probably not. So, what do you want your relationship to look, sound and feel like?
Here’s an example: “I eat when I’m hungry, honor my body’s cravings and am able to stop when satisfied most of the time. I eat all foods I love in moderation, knowing I want to feel energized when I’m done.”
The key is to be realistic. Is an extreme, low-calorie diet going to be maintainable for the rest of your life? If not, be honest with yourself and write down what will work for you.
2. Add foods you wouldn’t normally allow.
Diets can lead to feelings of deprivation, which can then lead to overeating. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat healthy foods, just know that if you're on a restrictive diet where you feel hungry, tired, deprived or depleted, this could cause you to overeat. When we feel we aren’t “allowed” to have certain foods, we want them even more.
So check in with yourself. Are you feeling deprived? Are you trying to follow an unrealistic, strict plan? If so, try to incorporate some foods that you wouldn’t normally allow yourself to have for balance and moderation. This way, you won’t feel like you’re "giving in” and eating all the cookies in sight because you never let yourself have them. You’ll start to feel balanced and less likely to reach for more food.
3. Eat without distractions so you can savor your food.
Phones, television, books, work … all things we're easily distracted by. In order to feel satisfied, you should actually, truly taste the food you're nourishing you body with. Close your eyes, chew slowly, sit up tall, take deep breaths and set your fork down between bites.
If you eat while distracted, you’ll continue to chase the feeling of satisfaction. When you aren’t distracted, you can truly taste the food. You might be surprised at how little you need to eat to feel satisfied — you’ll learn to recognize the markers of true fullness and satisfaction when you pay attention to them.
4. Listen to your body by asking, “Am I hungry?”
It’s simple (and easier said than done). If you’ve been bouncing between dieting and overeating for a while, it might seem crazy to listen to your body. But in reality, your body doesn’t want to feel stuffed. Your body will tell you when it’s hungry, what it needs and when it’s had enough.
One way to start tuning into your body is by asking, “Am I hungry?” before, during or after a meal. This can give you a moment to pause and become aware of what you truly needing in that moment.
5. Do things that light you up.
Find yourself reaching for food and overeating often? You might be filling up on food because there's something missing in your life.
Take some time to think about it what it is you may be needing. Do you need fun? Adventure? Friendship? Laughter? Passion? Physical activity? Meditation? A new career path? To work on a relationship? Once you discover what you need, you can start adding more of that into your life instead of overeating to fill a void.