Why You’re Struggling With Overeating

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Overeating is one of those things that most of us struggle with at some point, and we all have our certain times that are more dangerous. I’m gonna look at the reasons why people overeat, and I’m sure you’re gonna see yourself in at least one, but probably a few of these. I’m also gonna tell you how you can get around these particular struggles.

You’re Tired

Sometimes it’s just because you’re tired and that means that you’re lacking an enthusiasm for doing anything but sitting around and eating.

Lack Of Sleep And It’s Relationship To Overeating

But there’s also a physiological reason why you might be prone to overeating. Not getting enough sleep increases your production of the hormone ghrelin. And ghrelin increases your cravings and your appetite. That obviously leads to overeating.

Not getting enough sleep also decreases your production of leptin. That’s the hormone that tells you that you’re satisfied and full and don’t need to eat anymore.

Increasing Your Sleep Quality To Reduce Overeating

Generally, the best strategy with sleep is to make sure that you go to bed a bit earlier because it’s often quite difficult to know exactly when you’re gonna be able to get up, or maybe you know that you have to get up and it’s super early in the morning. So trying to go to bed even half an hour earlier can be really helpful in terms of increasing your energy levels during the day.

Practicing Sleep Hygiene

I also recommend that an hour before bed, you cut down on all those screens.

The blue light that comes from your computer screen or your smartphone can interfere with your production of melatonin. That can disrupt your sleep. So even though you may be getting enough sleep, you may not be getting the good quality sleep that you need.

Are You Overeating Because You’re Bored?

You could also be overeating because you’re bored. And that’s a common one that I see. It just becomes a habit.

“Oh, I’m bored. Let’s get something to eat.”

So part of what you need to do is find other things to do when you’re bored. You can have a go-to thing for whenever you’re bored. For some people it might be a particular app or maybe reading a little bit from a magazine, or maybe just getting up and walking around and doing something other than grabbing food off the shelf.

Setting Up Your Environment To Prevent Overeating

But the other thing that can be helpful is setting up your environment.

When you become bored, you don’t start reaching for that food. And research has shown that if you’ve got something in front of you, a jar of candy, I think is what they tested. You’re more likely to eat more of that candy than if the candy was hidden somewhere a little bit further away.

So keep those high calorie treat foods out of reach, out of sight, out of mind, and you’re less likely to eat them. When you do get bored.

Eating Too Quickly

Maybe you’re overeating because you’re eating too quickly. A lot of us just gobble things down and then don’t realize what we’ve eaten. It doesn’t give your stomach enough time to send signals about being full. That means that you might just continue eating or you’re not satisfied by the meal, and then you keep eating other things afterward.

Eating Mindlessly

Along the same lines, eating mindlessly. So not paying attention can also be an issue. I’ve probably said this in the past, and a lot of people will give this guidance. Don’t eat at the computer and don’t eat in front of the tv. And don’t eat while playing with your phone.

I mean, I do all of those things, to be honest. It’s just part of my routine. Sometimes I’m going to eat while I’m doing work occasionally.

But for me, overeating isn’t an issue anymore. So it’s not something that I’m concerned about.

If you do choose to eat in front of the TV or in front of your computer, it’s a good idea to at least have things portioned out. Don’t eat from a bag and just keep going. So you’ll be mindlessly watching TV and then you’re not gonna notice how much you eat. But if you already have a certain portion size and you know that that’s gonna be within your calorie intake for the day, then you don’t need to worry.

Being Satisfied With Your Food Can Prevent Overeating

However, if you’re not satisfied because you ate your food mindlessly and then you go looking for other things that are gonna add more calories to your day. That’s when you’re gonna run into a problem.

Get Enough Protein And Fat To Prevent Overeating

Not having the right balance of nutrients early on in the day can set you up for overeating later on in the day, whether it’s the afternoon or the evening. So it’s really important to get in enough protein and some fat in order to manage your appetite. You shouldn’t feel like you need to eat a couple of hours after eating a decent size meal. It should keep you satisfied for several hours. So keep protein in each of your meals and that can help you manage your appetite over the course of the day.

Don’t Wait Too Long Between Meals

And let’s talk a little bit about timing as well, because if you wave too long between meals, you may find that your appetite really builds up over the course of the day.

Then you want a big meal that’s going to hopefully satisfy all those food desires that you’ve been having. If you get yourself really hungry, you’re probably not gonna make the right choices. So I generally recommend not going more than five or six hours without food. That means that you can keep that appetite at a manageable level when you get to your next meal.

You don’t have to worry that you’re just gonna consume everything that you’ve been thinking about all day in one massive meal. That’s not a great way to eat.

Overeating And Stress

Have you ever felt stressed and reached for food?

A lot of us do that. We might just feel a little anxious about a work deadline or something’s going on with your kid that’s upsetting you, and food maybe for your entire life has been what you’ve used to cope with those stresses.

That can be a difficult thing to deal with. Often you need to find an alternative.

Dealing With Your Stress

Sometimes it’s exercise that’s a great alternative, but that might not be practical if you get stressed at a particular time. You can’t just exercise.

Sometimes it’s just about breaking things up, finding something else that releases stress for you. Maybe it’s just going for a very short walk or reading something that makes you feel happier or listening to some music. Some people like meditation as a way of reducing stress. Learning to manage your stress is an ongoing process. We’re not trying to eliminate stress. It’s about separating stress and food as your coping mechanism.

And I worked with quite a few of my clients to do this over time. It’s not generally something that happens overnight. It can take months or years. And then sometimes you’ll regress too. Like I generally don’t use food when I’m stressed.

Learning To Manage Your Stress Better

But you know, once in a while, all the right circumstances put together. Yeah, I might want some food when I’m stressed. And that’s okay too.

The idea is just to manage your stress better.

Overeating When Feeling Sad

You could also just be feeling sad or down in some way. And I’m not talking here about clinical depression, which also can be associated with food issues. If you do have an issue that you think is clinical, it’s best to reach out and find a therapist to help you with that.

But if you are just in that normal range of, “Oh, I feel sad and I’m used to having some comfort foods, the things that maybe I really enjoyed as a kid, or things that I’ve been enjoying over the years that I just really like and make me feel good.”

For me, that would be ice cream for sure. So if you feel sad, Ben and Jerry’s can make you feel better, or at least that’s the thinking that’s going to lead you into overeating that particular food.

Enjoying Your Food

Food should be a source of pleasure. It’s not just fuel.

Food is part of our culture and our social experiences.

It’s not as simple as just saying, “Eat what your body needs to keep itself going throughout the day.”

You cannot entirely separate how good it feels to eat a delicious food with your family. I know I love having ice cream with my son on a hot summer day. I’m not trying to take that away.

You want to find an alternative, if it’s negative and you feel guilty about it afterwards. Can you find a way to fulfill those needs that you have with something other than food? You might have already recognized some of these reasons why you might be overeating.

Being Too Restrictive With Your Diet Can Cause Overeating

For people who are trying to lose weight and are already dieting, one of the reasons you could be overeating is because you’re being too restrictive with your diet.

People often choose a particular diet that limits certain foods that they can’t have.

The Issue With Clean Eating

Clean eating is a very good example. It discourages you from having any of these treat foods, that’s what I call them anyway, that you probably really enjoy. You’re not supposed to have chocolate or chips or french fries on this particular diet. So what happens is that people end up overeating those foods.

Or they might even overeat the other foods like the ones that are considered the healthy foods because they’re trying to satisfy themselves with that food instead of with the food that they really want. Let’s say the chocolate. Because I think a lot about chocolate a lot.

They end up eating too much food because they’re not getting the satisfaction that they want. And I’ve experienced this myself. Anytime I’ve tried to get rid of my favorite foods and just completely cut them out of my diet, I found that I really end up craving them.

And that means that when I eventually give in and have those foods, I’m having way too much.

The Strategy I Use To Prevent Overeating

I solve this for my myself and for my clients by saying, “Hey, you can include those foods in small quantities and fairly regularly too.”

I do eat chocolate and or ice cream nearly every day, and as a result, I don’t have strong cravings for it. There’s no need to overeat them because I know that I don’t need to. I can satisfy myself with the amount that I want today and know that tomorrow we’re the next day, I’m going to have another small amount. So I don’t need to eat the entire tub of ice cream.

Find Satisfaction In Your Meals

But if you wanna avoid overeating, it’s important that you’re satisfied with your meals. Don’t make them completely boring all the time. You’re just trying to lose weight with chicken and broccoli. Of course, you’re gonna end up binging on your favourite treat foods later on.

Enjoy Treat Foods AS PART Of Your Plan

So I recommend including those treat foods that you really enjoy. That way you can lose weight cuz you’re still eating less and you’re not gonna drive yourself to overeat.

And if you’re curious about the popular weight loss advice that I think you can ignore and still get results, check out this video here.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 9-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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