12 Steps to Overcome Overeating
So you’ve been religiously following the book on healthy living. Watching your diet, choosing health choices, exercising, being free of stress, but still no results. You undo all your hard work, and say “I may as well quit and save myself the energy, I’ll never lose weight!”
“All-or-nothing” thinking doesn’t help. People who overeat often feel out of control and disgusted with themselves. It becomes a vicious cycle, leading to low self-esteem and even more eating. I know this because it has happened to me before and in a mindset like this I could eat anything and everything in sight.
Let’s regain control of our eating habits, ask yourself why you overeat. Is it your way of coping with stressful events? Has gorging on “forbidden” treats become a substitute for other pleasures lacking in your life? Do you use food to soothe, distract or reward yourself?
Breaking It Down
Once you’ve identified trigger factors, work out other ways to address them. Don’t beat yourself up with every little lapse. Instead, focus on positive things you can do to replace or avoid overeating. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods; you’ll start to notice patterns emerging (eating after a family argument, for example, or when you’re bored, lonely or disappointed). Consider alternative ways to lift your mood when the urge threatens. Perhaps call a friend, go for a walk or see a movie.
Breaking the Habit
Here are some tips for overcoming feelings and thoughts of overeating:
- Take it slow. Crash dieting is more likely to end in losing control than a slow, steady loss of a pound or two each week.
- Don’t cheat yourself! Eat a sensible amount of food each day.
- Allow occasional treats. If you don’t totally cut out “forbidden” foods (such as those donuts that you love), you’re more likely to stay on track, because deprivation often leads to overeating. Opt for low-fat versions of favorite foods.
- Reward yourself for every win — how about a bath or a walk just to enjoy a sunset rather than a reward consisting of junk food.
- Plan ahead to stay in control. Facing a big test or other ordeal that you fear will send you straight to the cookie jar? Try to keep healthy snacks around to nibble on instead, and exercise to offset your munching — and calm you down, too!
- Share your feelings — sad, bad or otherwise — with family or friends.
- Seek support from others trying to lose weight — family, friends or online buddies. They’re there to help, and want to see you succeed.
- Look to calming alternatives if stress is your trigger. Anything from deep breathing to yoga to arts and crafts could help. And don’t forget: Exercise is a great tranquillizer. (It also reduces your appetite!)
- Count to ten. Is overeating your way of coping with anger? Consider other ways of dealing with negative emotions, such as learning assertiveness techniques.
- Find other ways to fill the void. If you typically overeat when you’re looking for emotional nourishment; stop. Feed your spirit by caring for yourself as well as you can during times when you feel unloved, under-appreciated or unworthy. Be your own biggest fan and try to focus on your successes, not to the occasional lapse.
- Be patient and forgiving of yourself. Long-established complex habits won’t change overnight.
- Avoid all-or-nothing thinking, such as “I’ve already blown my weight loss plan, I might as well finish off the box.” Accept that you may go off the rails from time to time. So you’ve lost six pounds and regained three? It’s important to congratulate yourself for the pounds that you lost. You’re doing a great job