Compulsive overeating is a struggle for many people. Here are five practical tips to help you stop eating when you know you should.
Where did that bag of chips go? Is there really no more ice cream left? What started out as a case of the munchies ended up as another binge session. It’s not that you were all that hungry, but food was feeding something inside you. Now you feel like a failure, your calorie count for the day has blown through the roof, and you want to give up on dieting all together.
When this scenario becomes a common occurrence in your life, it’s time to make some necessary changes. Don’t let overeating be the reason you gain weight. Stop it with these tips.
End the Restrictive Diet
Your diet says don’t eat carbs. So what happens when you’re craving mashed potatoes, rolls, or pancakes for breakfast? You finally reach the breaking point, give in, and end up overeating the forbidden food. Then you feel guilty, ashamed, and try to set the rules again.
When your comfort foods or favorite treats are off limits, it makes you crave them even more. Instead of cutting yourself off from all good things, find a diet plan that allows a few indulgences and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Think Twice, Slow Down, Stay Alert
Before putting the fork in your mouth, ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you truly hungry or are you feeding your emotions? People who use food to cope with their emotions (anger, sadness, or boredom) are much likelier to overeat.
If you decide you’re hungry, eat slowly. Chew your food completely and take a sip of water after each bite. For thin people, it takes at least 12 minutes for your brain to recognize your stomach is full, but for overweight people it can take more than 20 minutes. So be patient!
You should also eat while sitting at the table. Mindless eating as you’re watching television, surfing the web, or driving is a recipe for overeating, because distractions can easily keep you from recognizing when you’re full.
Eat on a Schedule
Just like your body works best when you sleep and wake at similar times each day, it also functions at its potential when it’s refueled on a schedule. Plan to eat a meal every four to five hours with a healthy snack in between to keep your energy and blood sugar levels balanced. Go too long without eating (skip breakfast or lunch) and the overwhelming feelings of hunger may set you on the path to overeating when mealtime finally rolls around.
Choose the Right Foods
You have to eat a lot of foods high in sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates (white bread, cookies, candy, chips) to feel full. Plus, you’ll feel hungry soon after filling up on these types of foods. By choosing high-volume foods that fill you up and provide lasting energy, you’ll eat less and keep calories in check. Foods high in fiber and/or protein do just that, so try to include a source of both in each meal and snack. Examples include whole grains, eggs, cheese, popcorn, yogurt, nuts, fruit, vegetables, beans, lean meat, fish, and poultry.
Compulsive overeating may be the result of underlying emotional problems. For some people, a negative body image, past hurts, or depression may trigger overeating. Talk with your doctor when you’ve tried every other trick and nothing seems to help. Trained therapists can help you gain control over your emotions and—in the process—your eating habits.
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