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!):
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