How to Stop Overeating Today
When I started trying to lose weight around 2005 I really thought the process was as simple as a math formula. Just tell me what to do and I will do it.
Oh, I had “tried” to lose weight before. I wanted to drop pounds but I was in no way ready to sacrifice cinnamon and sugar toast or Oreos.
2005 was different, I had a friend trying to lose weight with me, and we had a road map with Weight Watchers. The first few weeks were really hard, but as the weight started to come off, the motivation I found from that success made things a bit easier.
What weight watchers didn’t help with was the mental challenges I began to face. I would fight these things hard, for many years.
Of course at the meetings we discussed emotional eating. Strategies for social events like parties and potlucks. How to navigate the “food pusher”, the food bullies who point out what you are eating (how much or how little), etc.
The one thing I don’t ever remember hearing about in a Weight Watchers meeting was how to actually stop overeating.
First, I’d like define overeating here with the understanding that it isn’t straight from any dictionary. This is my definition.
Overeating: Eating when you aren’t hungry. Or eating beyond your body’s fullness signals.
That’s pretty straight forward, right? Don’t eat when you aren’t hungry and stop eating when you are satisfied.
Yeah, unless you’ve struggled with your weight for years like I did. If you’re like me, for YEARS I ignored my body’s hunger signals. As in, if food looked sort of good and I hadn’t eaten in an hour or so, I would eat it.
When I was a Weight Watchers member, not much changed except that then, if I had the points for it (and sometimes even if I didn’t) I ate it.
I’m just gonna tell you right now, you can’t get to your goal weight with that philosophy – “I’ve got the points for it.” That’s not going to work long term. This philosophy will also get you into trouble during meals. It will give you permission to eat past satisfied, move onto full and then to overly full. I’ve done it many times.
So how do you stop?
Start paying attention to what’s happening around you or in your head when you grab your next snack. Are you really hungry? Or are you just stressed out? Is it a transition time in the day, like nearly nap time with the little ones or dinner time after a long day at work?
Next, be sure to evaluate your hunger level at the end of planned meals. What are some of the thoughts you had that led to this level of hunger? Are you still hungry? Satisfied? Stuffed? Be mindful of these physical feelings.
Don’t judge yourself for any thoughts you’re having. Just pay attention to what they are. Later, once you’ve done this for a week or more, sit down and write some of them out. Read them out loud to yourself. Evaluate whether or not you think that thought is true, useful or loving. I can tell you that they are probably none of those.
If we love our body we treat it with respect by giving it what it needs, no more, no less.
If the thought was useful, then it would be getting you closer to your goal of a fit, healthy body.
Here are some thoughts, that after careful attention and evaluation, you may want to use instead:
- My body is a temple – I’m not going to stuff it with extra stuff, just because it’s there.
- I love my body, I’m going to give it just what it needs – no less and no more.
- My body is amazing – it keeps me alive without me even having to think about it.
- I am grateful for my body.
- Food is fuel.
- Am I really hungry, or am I just bored?
- Is this hunger, or am I just tired?
- It’s ok to feel frustrated. Eating won’t help me not feel frustrated.
- Am I still hungry or do I just feel wasteful not finishing my food.
- Better to waste food on the plate than to waste it in my body – it’s harder to get rid of if I eat it when I’m not hungry.
Some of these thoughts are going to resonate with you and some won’t. Pick the thoughts that you like and use those when you observe those thoughts that cause you to overeat. This won’t be an overnight fix, but a technique to start practicing today. Imagine where you could be a month from now if, without changing anything else, you could stop overeating!