How to stop overeating for better health

How to stop overeating for better health

We all eat too much from time to time. But if you overeat regularly, feeling out of control and unable to stop, you may be suffering from compulsive overeating or a bad habit of compulsive overeating.

Personally, I developed a severe case of compulsive overeating as a child, which led to obesity by the age of seven. It took me over fifteen years to get over this and it has had a profound effect on both my personal and social life.

In this article, you will find some tips and tricks that will help you get rid of overeating and improve your health.


  1. What is binge eating?
  2. Be careful while eating
  3. A simple trick to stop overeating
  4. Last thoughts

What is binge eating?

Compulsive overeating [1]is a common eating disorder in which you often eat large amounts of food, feeling powerless to stop, and experiencing extreme anxiety during or after eating.

You can eat to the point of discomfort and then feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed, berate yourself for your lack of self-control, or worry about what binge eating will do to your body.

If you too are struggling with overeating, keep reading because this article is exactly what you need.

If you have binge eating disorder, you may feel embarrassed and ashamed about your eating habits and try to hide your symptoms by eating in secret. You may find that overeating can be short-term calming, helping to ease unpleasant emotions or feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. However, reality returns and you are overwhelmed with feelings of regret and self-hatred.

If you overeat regularly, you gain weight, which only makes the compulsive overeating worse. The worse you feel about yourself and your appearance, the more you use food to deal with it. It becomes a vicious circle: eat to feel better, feel worse, and then go back to eating for relief.

As powerless as you feel about your eating disorder, it's important to know that binge eating disorder is treatable. You can learn to break the binge cycle, manage your emotions better, develop a healthier relationship with food, and regain control over your eating and your health, just like I did.

As with any mental problem, both the causes and the solutions are not so clear cut. To deal with any compulsive overeating, self-awareness is paramount.

Causes and effects of overeating

Generally, it takes a combination of factors, including your genes, emotions, and experience, to develop compulsive overeating. In my personal case, I grew up to be a very picky eater. Since I almost never liked what was served to me in the school cafeteria, I simply refused to eat and, upon returning home, cleared the kitchen of all the bread and chips, without allowing my parents to see me.

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Some of my clients have developed compulsive eating due to social pressure from their parents in their early teens. The social pressure to be slim can heighten the feeling and fuel your emotional overeating. Some parents unwittingly set the stage for overeating by using food to comfort, release, or reward their children.

Children who are exposed frequent criticisms about their body and weight, are just as vulnerable as those who were sexually abused as children.

Many people also develop compulsive overeating because they find food to be an easy way to quell feelings of anger, depression, loneliness, or lack of parental attention. Depression and overeating are closely related. Many avid eaters are either depressed or have been in it before; others may have trouble controlling impulses, managing and expressing their feelings. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction can also contribute to overeating.

But why are you still overeating when you no longer feel social pressure, fussiness about food, or strong negative feelings to suppress?

The truth is that old and ingrained habits are hard to break and are ingrained in our subconscious.

The disorder is treatable. Your doctor can help you stop and then return to and maintain a healthy weight. The first step is to understand why you are doing it, and then how to stop overeating.

Overeating vs Compulsive Overeating

If you occasionally experience a mild version of the symptoms I listed above and only have sporadic episodes of binge eating, there is a much easier way to treat this problem.

It could just be the old habit of clearing your plate or mindlessly going through the whole bag of chips you just opened. These episodes happen to everyone, but they are not necessarily a way to suppress feelings.

If this is the case and you find yourself doing this from time to time, you may just be overeating.

The path to breaking an old habit begins with deep self-knowledge and awareness of your emotions and their triggers.

Be careful while eating

You could stop overeating for a while by creating an environment where food is scarce, but for most Westerners like us, that's not an option. Food is plentiful and the choices at our disposal are endless.

This means that the only solution to stop overeating is to learn how to identify and manage the triggers that cause it.

Keep in mind that being able to notice your emotions in place and stop yourself before acting on impulse is not easy. Most people tend to give in to emotions and act impulsively. For this reason, before suggesting any "tricks" to get rid of overeating habits, I recommend that you develop a daily practice of mindfulness meditation.

Daily meditation can help you better understand your feelings and let go of behaviors that threaten your health and happiness.

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If you want to start mindfulness meditation, this article can help you.

Practicing mindfulness in my early twenties not only helped me deal with compulsive eating, it also helped me quit smoking and using recreational drugs.

How Mindfulness Helps You Stop Overeating

The principle of mindfulness is very simple. The more you practice noticing your feelings when they arise, the better you will learn to pause and let them go.

Let's imagine a situation where you are alone at home and start feeling bored. You are quick to remind yourself that you are alone and lonely. This thought causes a strong and unpleasant feeling of disappointment, sadness, or even deep depression. The urge to suppress these negative feelings is very strong, and in your subconscious, the solution, which seems very strange, is to look for comforting food.

At this point, if you have easy access to food, your impulse is to reach for it. At this point, you can try to exercise willpower, but as long as negative emotions persist, the impulse to overeat will not disappear.

Eventually, you gave in to the temptation and started eating. You tell yourself you're going to eat "one more bite," but there's a voice in your head that says, "I can't resist temptation, I could just stop trying and eat the whole thing," and that's exactly what happens.

In this example, if you could notice a feeling of boredom arousing, you would stop there and, after asking a question about the feeling, perhaps think of something to keep your mind busy, such as calling a friend, doing work, etc. P.

By noticing the excitement of your first feeling (the least negative), you can avoid the escalation of feelings that will inevitably lead to overeating.

A simple trick to stop overeating

A simple trick to help you notice your feelings and pause before letting them escalate is to wear a band around your wrist.

Whenever you notice arousal in one of the senses that usually leads you to overeat, stop there, tug on the band, and let it hit your wrist hard enough to cause pain.

At this point, your brain will register that “experiencing this feeling hurts,” and your mental focus will shift from the negative feeling to the physical sensation: pain.

Keep in mind that pain may be enough to distract you from weak emotions, but it won't help much when it comes to strong and overwhelming emotions. So whenever you find yourself overeating because you failed to stop your emotional escalation, just forgive yourself and acknowledge that you tried and made progress.

Last thoughts

Over time, if you make mindfulness a regular part of your life, you will notice that your negative emotions become weaker and weaker and you will begin to develop a healthier relationship with food.

There is no magic in this, just hard work and consistency. Through these practices, you can learn how to stop overeating and change your life for the better.

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