10 Steps to Stop Overeating

Overeating is really easy to do in our modern world of convenience foods and fast food. Palatable, tasty food is everywhere in easy reach. And it’s easy to get into the habit of overeating. In this post, I share with you 10 simple steps to stop overeating.

There are some simple steps you can take to put a stop to overeating.

10 Steps to Stop Overeating

A lot of people think that the reason they are gaining weight is because they are eating too many carbs so they go on a low carb diet. Or they think too much fat is making them fat — so they go on a low fat diet.

But the truth is, most of us are just overeating. We are consuming more calories than we are burning. Both low carb and low fat diets work based on calorie restriction.

Following these steps, you will naturally learn how to eat like a thin person and stop depriving yourself, which is one of the main causes of overeating.

1. Make A List of Reasons You Eat (Besides Being Hungry)

The first thing you need to do is make a list of all the reasons you eat besides being hungry. Being hungry is just one of the reasons we eat. But most of us eat for all kinds of other reasons: we’re bored, it’s time to eat, other people are eating, and so forth.

Make a list of the reasons you eat besides being hungry so you can start to be aware of your triggers. I recommend posting this on your fridge.

Remember, one of the reasons we eat is “I should be eating this to get the nutrition (fill in the blank — green smoothie or salad, cod liver oil, tablespoon of coconut oil, etc.). Eating because you are trying to get more nutrition is good, but it’s never good to eat if you are not hungry.

2. Make A List of Things You Like To Do Instead of Eating

Next you want to make a list of 25 or more things you like to do instead of eating. So many of us eat just for something to do — or because we “should” eat lunch at 12 noon. Even though we’re not actually hungry.

Now you have a ready reminder of things you can do other than eating. Again, good to post on your fridge.

3. Make A List of All the Foods You Love

Here comes the fun part. You get to make a list of all the foods you love. Make a list of 25 or more foods you love. These do not have to be “health foods”. They are just any foods you enjoy eating.

Why is this important? Because so many of us have become orthorexic about food. We eat the foods we think we should eat — and then we binge on the foods we want to eat. Which results in eating too much.

When you are trying to lose weight, it’s a good idea to take some time and just get back to eating what you love.

Tack this list up on your fridge or put it in a folder in your kitchen. These are the foods you are going to be eating while you lose weight.

4. Make A List of Rewards

Make a list of 25 or more rewards you can give yourself every week when you stick to your plan of not overeating.

At the end of each week that you have completed, you can choose one thing from your list and give it to yourself as a reward.

It’s a good idea to not put things related to food (i.e. a hot fudge sundae) on the list. You also don’t want to only have things that cost a lot of money.

Some good ideas for rewards are: a bubble bath, a walk on the beach alone or with your loved one, a movie at the movie theater, a new pair of sandals, a gym membership, getting to sleep late one weekend. Choose things that are meaningful to you.

You might want to also come up with some ideas for rewards you will treat yourself with when you accomplish specific goals. For example, when you lose a dress size or hit your goal weight.

5. Only Eat What You Love

Now take your list and go shopping. Buy all the foods you love and stock your fridge. If you love potato chips, buy some and keep them in your cupboard. If you want pizza and ice cream for dinner, have it.

Orthorexia (the fear of eating unhealthy foods) is a ticket to weight gain. Why? Because we are so focused on eating what we “should” eat that we end up eating that PLUS the food we really want. Trust your body to tell you what it needs. Sometimes I crave fruit all day, and other days I just want lots of carbs or meat. I just listen to what my body wants.

If you need to eat some “unhealthy” foods for a while to get off the orthorexic wheel, that’s okay. You need to train yourself that there are no “bad” foods. In time, you’ll get used to the 80/20 lifestyle of eating mostly healthy and eating some things that are not so great. An 80/20 diet of mostly healthy foods is really very good — and you don’t have to be miserable on such a restricted diet that you can’t even go out with friends for dinner or order a pizza every once in a while.

6. Only Eat When You’re Hungry

This is the most important rule. It has been my biggest challenge. It’s most people’s biggest challenge.

Why? Because when you get into the habit of overeating, you lose the ability to tell when you are hungry. When you get used to not being able to tell when you are hungry, it starts to feel natural to overeat.

Overeating is a bad habit, like smoking or not picking up after yourself… and it takes time to break a habit. You have to get used to what it feels like to be hungry — and to actually register that feeling.

So you have to retrain yourself. It typically takes a few weeks to a month to start to feel the hunger pangs again and get used to not overeating.

I use a scale of 0-5. Zero means I’m not hungry at all. Five means I’m so starving, I feel like I’m going to faint. It’s best to eat when you are a 3 or 4. Don’t wait until 5 to eat, because then you are likely to overeat. If you are 0 or 1, don’t eat. If you are a 2 or 3, you can have a little something to tide you over — maybe a small handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.

Once you get used to eating only when you are hungry, you’ll most likely find that you have been eating WAY too much.

7. Eat Slowly and Savor Your Food

Eating slowly is really important. We tend to wolf down our food and then we don’t realize we are full until it’s too late and we’re already stuffed.

I remember the first time I tried this when I needed to lose 20 pounds. I had fallen into the bad habit of overeating during a time when I had a boyfriend with food issues. He was a chronic overeater, and I got used to overeating when I was with him.

After we broke up, I was determined to break my bad habit and lose the extra 20 pounds. One night I was with some friends and we had made a big batch of Fettuccine Alfredo. I filled my plate with pasta, as everyone else did (they were all overweight, too). Instead of gobbling up the whole plate like I would have normally done, I decided to eat very slowly and only take a bite if I was really hungry. I ended up eating only 1/3 of the pasta — normally I would have eaten the whole thing.

8. Stay Hydrated

Often times we can mistake hunger for thirst. Make sure you are drinking enough water so that you don’t mistake thirst for hunger.

I just drink water or iced tea (unsweetened or very lightly sweetened). Drinking soda or other high-caloric beverages is generally a bad idea when you are trying not to overeat.

9. Don’t Beat Yourself Up When You Fail

If you don’t succeed at first, just keep trying and don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time to break bad habits.

If you mess up and overeat on a Monday, just start over on Tuesday. One day of overeating is not going to hurt you.

10. Reward Yourself

Reward yourself every week or even every day for a job well done. This is not based on pounds lost. It’s just rewards for not overeating. Every day or week that you don’t overeat (or both), give yourself a reward (refer to your list of rewards).

Will This Work for You To Stop Overeating?

I don’t know if it will work for you but I can tell you it definitely worked for me!

Read more about how I lost 40 pounds in 6 months eating a high-fat, high-carb diet (yes, pizza and wine every day!):

How I lost 10 Pounds in One Month with My Fitbit
How I lost 20 Pounds in 2 Months on a High-Carb, High-Fat Diet
How to Lose a Pound a Day with One Simple Weight Loss Trick

Best of all, when you stop depriving yourself, you’ll be able to keep the weight off. If you don’t feel deprived, you won’t feel the need to overeat.

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Photo Credit: Kyle as a 50s TV Show Baby

Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

53 thoughts on “10 Steps to Stop Overeating

  1. I have to say that this is quite confusing – I thought up until recently, you were under eating and that is why you gained weight, because of a slowed metabolism?

    Why the “rewards?” Shouldn’t the weight loss in itself be reward enough? I can’t imagine spending so much time and energy making lists and obsessing over food. If I was looking to lose weight, I’d get outside and move more, chop wood, run around with my kids and the like. I would eat a little less. Traditional lifestyles often include eating less – fasting. I am not suggesting we go back and live like Laura Ingalls Wilder, I like my car, but traditional eating is more than soaking grains and taking cod liver oil.

    I think that it is difficult to overeat when living a more traditional lifestyle. When you are cooking from scratch, in community, it takes time, foods are seasonal and not immediate. I can see how it would be easy to overeat when going out to restaurants or eating snacks like bagged chips often and being too busy to cook. We have no degenerative diseases or infertility in my extended family – aren’t these the traditional signs of health, not a number on a scale?

    I hope you are successful in all your goals, I just don’t understand who is the “we” that you mean in your post?

    1. I can’t speak for Anne Marie, but I can speak for myself. As a chronic overeater, I managed to *gain weight* on a whole foods diet, because of the amounts of food I was consuming unbalanced by physical activity, this list is incredibly useful to me. The topic has been approached from an angle I haven’t heard before. Unfortunately many in the traditional living world (which I wish I was a part of), don’t understand or appreciate the challenges of being too busy to cook, sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week, and having few physical chores to enjoy. I’m grateful Annemarie was willing to share her thoughts on this that can be applied to my life in my journey toward a more traditional lifestyle.

    2. Amanda Z is spot on. Not all of us *can* live a traditional lifestyle, even if we’d like to. I have fibromyalgia (which is a genetic disorder of the CNS, not a diet- or lifestyle-related disorder as many apparently believe). There’s no way I’m chopping wood. Some days I can barely walk.

      The thing is, if you’re able to live traditionally, more than likely you’re healthy already and probably don’t know much about the health challenges faced by people who don’t have that option, outside of your own opinions on the subject. If someone’s eating good foods but is overweight, and making lists and giving themselves rewards helps them get some of that weight off, then that’s all that really matters. Heavier folks are already carrying around a huge list of do’s and don’t’s they’ve had thrown at them by our body-obsessed, puritanical culture, plus a boatload of shame and other feelings that can be just as hard to fight as poor eating and excercise habits, if not harder. Adding more judgements to that pile, however subtley (or not-so-subtley) stated, is totally not helpful.

      1. Wow, lots of assumptions in your response.
        I am not able to chop wood at the moment either.
        I don’t see how this post does anything different than the rest of “our body-obsessed, puritanical culture.”
        Why stress your overtaxed system further with lists, working more an more hours have the money to pay for rewards, working more to hire others to free up your used up time, expensive gadgets and the like?
        Enjoy your food! ENJOY YOUR LIFE! I really mean it – if your happy with yourself, who cares what everyone else thinks? THAT is all that really matters, not worrying about your weight half your waking hours.
        The French have it right with eating and their work week.

  2. These are great, practical tips, Annemarie. I am in the process of re-learning what real hunger is, and how to tell when I am full…it sounds crazy to say that we get to a point when we don’t know those things, but it’s true.

    Re the previous commenter: maybe it’s different for some people, but I can totally overeat on traditional food. I can eat an entire loaf of homemade sourdough bread by myself. Lol. or ice cream sweetened with rapadura, or quesadillas made with sprouted tortillas and grassfed beef and cheese, or…you name it.Traditional food is just good. :0)

    And rewards can be incredibly motivating. The world largely works on a rewards-based system. Yes, it should be gratifying to simply do a good job at work, but it sure makes it sweeter (and easier when the going gets tough) to know that a raise or a promotion will be the result. We are working on table manners with our kids, and we told them that if they used good manners for the month of June, we would take them on a special family day. You know what? They not only used good manners for that month, but at the end of the month, the manners had become habit and now they use them most of the time. I have no problem treating myself at the end of a good week to keep me inspired in my weight loss goals.

    1. Thanks Leah

      Seems like every time I write something a little different than what I was writing before, people get upset. Most people don’t like change.

      For me, it was a revelation that there was nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with my hormones, and there are no bad foods. It’s just that I was eating past the point of hunger and not moving enough.

      1. I don’t think it’s that “people don’t like change.” I think it’s more that you seem to jump from nutrition bandwagon to bandwagon, while at the same time taking nutritional questions from people, promoting books/products, etc. It seems like every few months you change things up….WAPF, GAPS, Four Hour Body, Paleo, Mood Cure, RRARF. Along the way, you have to know that you pick up a pretty diverse readership. In the case of your latest post about maintaining a 1,000 calorie deficit to drop weight, it was a dramatic shift from Matt Stone’s research on metabolic restoration/diet recovery, which you were just advocating not very long ago.

        But, now you are on a very calorie restricted diet. In the comments on your weight loss post, you were quoting sources like Weight Watchers and mainstream weight loss websites like “NowLoss” promoting gimmicky low-fat diets to “prove” your point that 800-1000 calories per day is advisable. That is a HUGE shift for your blog, so it seems reasonable people would react. The headline of your post was also a bit misleading, given your calorie intake, and people were responding to that. What really struck me about the comments was the number of well-reasoned, logical comments that received a hostile response from you.

        Evolution is great, but dramatic sweeps in diet dogmas/concepts are not so great for one’s health and can also be confusing to readers. I’m sure that plenty of people you don’t know read your blog, so I’m not sure why you feel like you should “know” everyone who leaves a comment, as you said in your other comment on this post. It may be that someone who has been reading for some time decided to only recently comment because something you posted struck a nerve. If you want to know everyone who comments, maybe a registered commenting system would be helpful.

        1. @KristyB

          Having an open mind, I’m always seeking to learn more and share what I learn with my readers. Different diets work for different people at different times of their lives.

          Some examples: I needed a gluten-free sugar-free diet in my 20s to overcome gluten intolerance and arthritis. Some people need GAPS, which is more extreme — for example, people who have more serious allergies or other health problems and autistic spectrum kids. Other people will benefit from Julia Ross’s work. I personally benefitted greatly from Matt Stone’s work last year — but RRARFing is a temporary thing.

          If you reread that post (or add me as a friend on FitBit) you will see that people are exaggerating — I am not eating 800-1000 calories per day. I’m eating 800-1500 calories per day.

          My average intake last week was 1244 calories per day. I was burning an average of 1920 calories per day. Therefore, I was burning, on average, 676 calories more than I was eating.

          “I’m not sure why you feel like you should “know” everyone who leaves a comment”

          That was in reference to the comment someone else made (Becky). She was asking me if I knew those commenters and I said no.

          1. I just reread the entry and most of the comments to see if I could see where people were exaggerating, and I saw the following comment. Perhaps that is where the confusion stems from?

            “Also, I am not eating 1,700 calories — I am only eating around 800-1,000 calories per day. I eat up to 1,500 calories on the days I get more exercise (or just on days when I go out to eat — I am not strict on those occasions).”

      2. When you say there was “nothing wrong with your hormones,” do you mean, in retrospect, you don’t believe you had low cortisol or low metabolism, you were just overeating since your daughter was born and that was the root cause of your weight gain? Before you did the Matt Stone thing, you said you only ate two meals a day and weren’t hungry, that is why I was wondering and confused.

        1. @Ellen

          I did not have low cortisol or low thyroid function.

          That said, my body temp was low, so maybe that’s a symptom of the beginnings of hypothyroidism. In other words perhaps I was not officially hypothyroid but stressing out my body with low carb was causing my body temp to drop and leading me there (?).

          Overeating and becoming more sedentary after my daughter was born (overeating b/c of pregnancy and needing to combat morning sickness and being sedentary due to starting home-based business) is what caused me to overeat. I went low carb to try to lose the baby weight — which caused my body temp to drop.

          1. Yes, low temps usually = low thyroid. (According to my WAPF naturopath.) And yes, low carb can slow metabolism – so can not eating at frequent intervals, not enough rest, too much stress. (Or even eating the wrong kinds of traditional foods.)

  3. NOW you’re talking! I’ve been unhappy with the posts lately… well, actually the posts lately have been fine, it’s been the comments that are getting ugly. Everyone seems to be assuming that comments or questions are hate mail, and some of your responses have really upset me because I had the same questions, NOT in a hate/judgmental sense, But wanting to KNOW, and the askers were being slapped across the faces rather than have their questions answered respectfully. Perhaps you know these people, and know they are being rude, and the whole story doesn’t show in the comments?
    This post I don’t have questions on, and there aren’t too many comments (yet), although they’re rather rude again (sigh), so it was way more comfortable to read. I’d been considering unsubscribing.
    I’m really liking what you have to say here. Overeating is a big issue! Everyone (more or less) does it SOMETIME. Hunger SHOULD be #1, not nutrients. Rewards are effective. Having a plan is effective. Good tips, not worth crabby comments, people. I’m off to make some lists! : )

    1. @Becky

      It was the ugly comments that upset me. So I may have overreacted to the people who were legitimately just asking questions. There were a lot of rude commenters on my recent posts about my weight loss.

      I don’t know the commenters. I suspect someone posted a link to my post in some forum or something. There were a lot of people who were advocates of “health at every size” and recovering anorexics — so maybe that’s what happened. They definitely seemed to have an ax to grind.

      Just as you say you felt like unsubscribing, I felt like quitting blogging!

      But my aim is to help people so I will keep blogging. I’m just going to have my assistant check the comments more frequently (before I do) so she can delete the rude ones before I see them. My comment policy is no personal attacks, no trolling, no foul language, etc.

      1. Ah yes. I finally decided that the comments were just going to be something I avoided like the plague. Normally I like reading what your commenters say because they ask the questions I had, clarify, add support, give personal testimonies, bring up other angles, and all manner of cool stuff. : ) This was raising my blood pressure though, not educating me.
        Thanks for sticking with it. Now that I’ve adjusted to your new direction I’m excited about your posts. This is much more in line with what I picture as common sense. Many real food people give me the feeling that you must ALWAYS be packing it in: it’s the only way to have a healthy body. I just can’t see things like forsaking plain water for a “nutrient filled beverage” for the average reasonably fed person.

  4. I think this is a fantastic post full of great ideas for overeaters. I’ve struggled with food my whole life. I’ve gone through long periods where I’ve simply been overeating and the tips you give in this post are the exact same things I uses to teach myself better eating habits. I’ve also struggled with undereating and thyroid disease and low metabolism. I used other methods to help with those issues. For me, learning what an appropriate amount of food is was difficult. For years, I ate a strict diet. I though eating any meal with more than 300 calories was bingeing and snacking was forbidden. I’ve since learned that 1500-2000 calories a day is not overeating. But most restaurant meals are, and an entire carton of ice cream (homemade with raw milk or not) is, and a half a loaf of sourdough bread spread liberally with grassfed butter is. For those of us with eating issues, weight and eating are difficult matters. For those of you with no food issues, you don’t need to heal your metabolism or learn how to eat normally. You can do it naturally. Some of us can’t.

  5. These are great tips Ann Marie! I RARRFed (haha) for a year and gained 35 lbs. I went from a size 0/2 to a size 8! I did need to gain weight, but only about 15lbs. I waaaaay over did it. In the end I realized I really just needed to sleep more and eat 3 good meals a day with a light snack before bed. Now I’m stuck with an uncomfortable 20 extra lbs. I didn’t realize only being 20 lbs overweight sucked so much! My thighs chafe when I wear skirts, clothes never fit right (no matter the size and my clothes wear out so much faster), and my sweat stinks now. Once I realized that I didn’t need to keep stuffing my face, I stopped. I agree, it felt good to feel hungry again. I have stopped gaining weight and have started sleeping better. I am all for diet recovery, but I felt once the RARRFing was done…what do I do now? I think I am still trying to figure it out and it seems you are kinda going through that as well?

    1. Hi, Meagan,

      Yes, it is a process to learn how to do this!

      I am now only about 15 pounds overweight and it’s much better (I was over 30 pounds overweight) but I still want to get back to my old weight where I was the most comfortable.

      It takes time to get it off. I always remind myself that it took time to put it on so it will take time to get rid of it.

  6. This is simple good sense. What can we be aware of? Sometimes we don’t want to know what we know…like that even if we are eating nutrient dense food we can be overeating. It’s all about listening to the body. Maybe ask a few questions like Body what would you like to eat? Body are hungry or am I hungry? What am I hungry for? and what about asking Who’s hunger is this?
    Very well written article.

  7. Hi Anne-Marie, I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind, and the reasons I am asking these questions is because I have been rarrfing these last 11 months and apart from putting on a lot of weight my health seems to be declining.
    When you were rarrfing last year I asked a question in the comments one day about whether you would one day restrict calories in order to lose the weight. You said no, that you would never restrict calories again. At the time you believed that once you healed your metabolism and your hormones that the weight would simply come off naturally. Obviously you don’t believe that anymore. I am just wondering what changed for you??? I am currently losing faith in rrarf because my blood sugar seems unsteady and I have been getting a lot of viruses so obviously it’s effecting my immunity. I feel so confused!!! Yet still I really detest the idea of going on any other diet or particularly of restricting calories. That’s what I did chronically for 22 years which destroyed my metabolism and lead me to rarf in the first place. Is there any getting off this merry-go-round???

    1. Two things changed for me:

      1. I realized that I have been overeating all along. Yes, I overate a LOT when I was RRARFing, but I was overeating even before that.

      So the point of eating less, for me, is not really about “restricting calories” (although I am doing that) — it’s REALLY about trying to find my way back to eating ONLY when I am hungry. Instead of eating for other reasons, like being bored or eating just because it’s time or other people are eating.

      The FitBit dashboard helps me make sure I am staying under the calories I burn, since it is still hard for me to gauge when I am really hungry.

      2. I realized that since I had a baby and started my own business in which I work from home, I have become SUPER sedentary. To the tune of around 1600-1700 calories burned per day. I was sitting ALL DAY LONG. 12+ hour days sitting at a computer and then I’d sit and watch TV at night or read a book. I was getting no exercise at all, and I was hiring people to do the cleaning, shopping and cooking (so I could have more time to work — it’s not easy launching a start-up) so I wasn’t even getting that activity.

      So for me, I need to move more to burn more calories so I can eat more — and also just for my health. It’s not healthy to sit all day.

  8. I kind of relate to you Ann Marie. I like to jump around and try different things. I can’t understand where other people are coming from though too. Some people are committed to their diet-style and want to read articles that help them continue with it. Someone who changes things up more often can seem unstable to them. Even though it isn’t really true, people can and do make those kind of judgments. Totally happened to me on my blog and it hurt my feelings so much that now I don’t even allow comments. I’m sure my blog was never as popular as yours though.

    I do like hearing different points of view and weighing them against my current ideas. I might not always agree with everything, but I recognize now that with diet everybody has a different viewpoint it seems and its possible that more than one person is right. Its possible that finding what works for you and being okay with sticking to it is the way to go. I’m still on that journey. I’m trying to overcome some overeating difficulties- mostly night time binge like issues. I seem to do so well the first half of the day and then all the stress of being a mom just gets to me and it seems that food is the only thing around the fill the void. And I can down food real fast when I want to.

    I do agree with the idea that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I do think that some foods available today are not good foods. But yes, even I have a soft spot for corn-dogs. I don’t eat them very often but if maybe once a year I’m at a fair or something then I’m going to give myself permission to enjoy one. I really enjoyed a book that just came out this year called “The Plan”- its about finding your trigger foods and your friendly foods that work for you individually and being able to know what is going to cause you problems so you can lose weight, or get healthy- whatever your goals are.

  9. Hey Ann Marie-

    I suppose I can see how people might be confused, but on the other hand, aren’t we all trying to figure out what works for our body? Real Food is a journey and real foodies are determined to learn and improve. In fact, I just watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and while I think it downplays the importance of animal fats, juice fasting or cleansing is actually beneficial. Even doctor Natasha promotes juicing (more moderately) in the GAPS diet. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    I’ve dieted off and on for most of my life. I’ve never been obese, but I’ve struggled with weight and food since I was 9 or 10. Real food has changed that significantly because I find myself more satisfied with the food that I eat. I don’t feel the need to “diet” anymore unless I’m doing something of a healing nature (I.e. gaps). This FitBit made me very conscious of how I was over-eating, and the need to get up and move! I have found that even though I have reduced my portions and I am more active, I’m not starving. I eat nourishing foods (with butter and tallow etc) and I still enjoy what I’m eating. No feelings of deprivation here and I’m trying to stay in the habit of “conscious” eating (am I hungry? Is this nourishing? Etc..) I mean cookies aren’t NOURISHING per se, but if I’m active and under my calorie limit, I treat myself to one every so often. It’s been awesome!

    Thanks for taking us on your journey!

  10. I usually don’t leave comments but this time it just seems like I should. I know that the eating only when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied method works. I lost 20lbs that way not long ago. The program i was doing was bible based and right now i am not sure where i stand with the bible or religion so it was good to hear what you had to say in a non religious way. often times i don’t take time for myself. i have 3 young children (5 and under)and a husband who is disabled and can’t often help with the kids. it was quite challenging to think of 25 rewards that didn’t involve food and some that didn’t involve money. it helped me a lot just to see my options. Same thing with 25 things i love other than eating. it gives me options i wouldn’t normally think of. i eat when i am stressed, which is much of the time. when i am stressed its harder to think but now i have this list of things to do other than eat or watch t.v. this is something that i really want to do and you gave me the encouragement and tools to do it. thank you

  11. I am wondering about the statement that we sometimes think we’re hungry when we’re really thirsty – is there scientific data to support this? A number of health bloggers have made a similar claim, but I never see any references to findings from an actual study. I’ve also read recently that we often drink too MUCH water, which is not a good thing, since it dilutes our electrolytes. Personally, I’m pretty sure I know the difference between hunger and thirst!

    1. I am 31 years old. My mom has been saying that water quote for my entire life. It’s been around for awhile. 🙂

    2. Yeah, that’s one thing I’ve never really understood. When I’m hungry I want to eat, when I’m thirsty I want fluids. But I suppose some people might mistake the two. When I used to diet I would use fluids to quell my hunger, which I now realize isn’t healthy.

    3. I agree that we should not drink too much water.

      If you all have no trouble knowing when you are hungry, then this article is not for you. This article is for people like me who have lost the ability to tell when we are hungry. It’s about learning to rediscover true hunger pangs.

      1. No I agree. Many people, including myself not terribly long ago, have lost the ability to tell whether they’re hungry or not. It’s hard for those who’ve never struggled to really understand what that’s like, but it’s a hard thing to live with. For myself I would either undereat or overeat/binge…there was no in between.

  12. Hi Ann Marie,
    I have a few questions, b/c I’m confused.

    What do you make of leptin resistance, and it’s impact on hunger? And do you think that anyone who wants to lower calories should just be able to as long as they make good habits?

    Why do you think going low carb tanked your temps? But not low calorie?

    Why do you think your hormones were fine, yet your temps tanked? What was the mechanism for your reduced temps, and then for your increased temps?

    If you were only eating 2 meals a day after your daughter was born, and assuming these were not low carb meals, why didn’t you lose the baby weight?


    1. Annie –

      I was eating low carb after my daughter was born.

      My hormones were fine according to the tests, but my temperature was low — low body temp is one of the early warning signs of sluggish thyroid function. Yes, low carb tanked my temps — I’ve written a number of posts about it. You can just google “cheeseslave matt stone”.

      I have been eating 1,200-1,800 calories per day these past few weeks and have maintained my weight loss. (I wasn’t burning as many calories because I was on vacation and not exercising as much.) My body temperature is a stable 98.6.

      Here’s a good article on leptin resistance: https://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2010/03/guest-post-matt-stone-on-milk-diet

      I think it takes time and effort to change habits but yes, I think anyone can do it.

  13. You probably won’t even see this, but just in case, thank you so much. I am on paleo and have recently gained weight (started crossfit, and probably overcompensating for an increased metabolism). My weight gain has come despite the fact that I find myself obsessing over eating the wrong thing and this list struck a nerve. Thank you, thank you! Moderating portion sizes without being deprived of “favorite foods” is so simple, yet had not occurred to me.

    Usually negative people are the more vocal ones, so just assume that for everyone who freaks out there are several of us that find the information useful.

  14. Thank you for this post. I’ve been really frustrated with my eating experience in the last 10 years. I feel like my eating is fairly reflective of Weston A Price, minus the occasional cheat, but I am still hanging on to about 10 pounds above what I feel my healthy weight to be. I haven’t (minus pregnancy) been gaining or losing weight in the last 2 or 3 years, and so this is my thought: I have this intuition that I am eating an appropriate diet for my body, but my years of pre-WAPF eating have stayed with me (in the form if the extra weight). So that if I was able to lose the extra weight with an intense period of exercise and limited sweets, I would be able to return to an eating routine similar to what I have now, but would maintain my lower weight. Does that sounds reasonable? Or would I slowly gain the weight back? Basically, am I interacting with that extra weight or is it just hanging out?

    1. Hi Ann Marie-

      Is there any chance you could delete this question above that I asked? I am trying to limit what people can see of me when they google me, and I should not have added my last name here. Thank you in advance!

  15. Thanks for this! If I have the urge to eat, I imagine a room temperature pizza where the cheese is cold and ‘gelatinous.’ If I’m truly hungry, that yucky pizza will still be tempting, otherwise it’s just a craving 😉

  16. Ann Marie, thank you for your post! I have so many paleo friends who are doing awesome with their diets and so I gave paleo a try but I gained weight. I was a runner and ate healthy foods but good amount of carbs before doing paleo last year. During paleo, I was not able to maintain distance running which i love. Some of my paleo friends are ultra distance runners (like 50-100 miles per week) and are thriving so it seems like lowish carb can work for certain people just not me. I put on about 15 lbs (which is actually very noticeable when running lol) and noticed after getting off paleo that I was carb bingeing. I have enjoyed reading about determining hunger and watching overheating. Also, our coffee maker broke and I went without coffee for several days and I noticed that it made me *super* hungry, so when we replaced our coffee maker I just didn’t drink anymore and I haven’t felt this good in along time! My usual witching hour of extreme sugar need was 3pm each day and since I’ve stopped drinking coffee, this has gone away.

  17. Just wanted to drop you a note. I read this blog post back in July and I really took it to heart. I started on the Real Food journey abut 5 years ago and I am amazed at how far I’ve come. At this point my pantry/fridge looks radically different than it used to. And overall my health has improved in the past 5 years. But weight loss still was not working for me. I did try low carb about 2.5 yrs ago and lost some of my weight but it was a big struggle to lose the weight and as soon as I started eating carbs I gained it all back.

    Fast forward to the past couple of months. Today I’m down 25 lbs after reading this article. I realized I was over eating. I kept hearing people say that on real food your body will tell you when you are full so you will naturally eat less. That was not the case for me. I was conditioned to many years of WW that taught EAT ALL THE FOOD for LOW POINTS! The goal wasn’t nutrition it was how much food could you eat for as few calories. The point was to stuff yourself so you were satisfied emotionally. When I started eating real fat and real food it was SO delicious after years of convincing myself that low fat was tasty. I ATE all the food and told myself it was “healthy” to do so!

    So, I’ve been only eating when I’m hungry and taking smaller portions. Really listening to my cues and actually putting trust back into my body. I didn’t realize how much I had dissociated myself from my own body. I was at war with it and didn’t know. It was all about strategy instead of love.

    THANK YOU for writing this. I read it on an evening when I needed to read it. A week earlier it probably wouldn’t have resonated. But I was at a very low frustrated point and your article was a clear bell. Now I’m satisfied that I’m losing weight at a snails pace, eating what I want, when I want. And by now it’s even as much as I want. (that was hard at first. I’d eat a small portion, check my body, realize I was full but emotionally still wanted to keep eating!)

    Sorry for the very long post, just feeling grateful and wanted to let you know what a difference you’ve made. Thank you!

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