Do you have trouble stopping when you’re eating? Are you always a member of the Clean Plate Club? Do you find it hard to stop even when your body is sending signals that you’re full? If you can’t stop overeating the answer may not be what you expect. Here are some common reasons why people overeat and tips on becoming a more mindful eater so you can stop eating when full and satisfied.
Why Are You Overeating?
First, let’s talk about why you are overeating. There are many reasons why people overeat but one of the biggest reasons is UNDER EATING. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. In addition to under eating, here are some other common reasons why you may be overeating:
- The food is amazingly delicious and you have trouble stopping
- You have set rules about the food being “bad” or “off-limits” and that you are now allowing yourself to eat
- You have a long history being the President of the Clean Plate Club or guilt with “wasting” food
- Emotions are taking control: stress, anger, sadness etc.
- Other mindless eating: watching TV or eating right out of large container and not paying attention to the amount or your fullness
While these are all super common, the biggest reason that makes it hard to stop OVEREATING is the rest of the day you are UNDER EATING. This could be from skipping meals (intentionally or not) or your meals are not providing balanced nutrition. Eating meals that are not nutritionally balanced (protein, fat, carbs, color/fiber) are not as satisfying and don’t provide you the nutrients that you need leaving you craving more. Another way you may be under eating is that your portions are too small and your body is again craving more. Whatever the reason, by under eating throughout the day you are setting yourself to feel ravenous later and then overeating.
How to Stop Overeating at Restaurants
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and sat down and the bread basket comes and you devour it without even realizing it? Or you get to a buffet or family-style meal and you take one of everything and completely fill your plate(and then clean it)? It’s likely because you did not eat enough leading up to this meal and your body is literally starving and craving all the nutrients it has been deprived. When you are this hungry it makes it so much harder to make intentional food choices (i.e. making that balanced plate) and that much hard to stop overeating. Eating well balanced meals and snacks during the day will help prevent you from walking into the meal starving.
Also, portions at restaurants tend to be at least twice the recommended serving. If you’re distracted by the conversation (no always a bad thing!) or you’re allowing yourself to eat foods that you consider “bad” you may have trouble stopping when full. Removing the “bad” label can help you stop, but more on that later.
Kings and Queens of the Clean Plate Club
Were you raised in a Clean Plate Club family? I was! If you were too, then it can be hard to break this habit. Or how many of you heard a phrase similar to “ there are starving kids in XXX that would love to eat this meal” or “Don’t waste your food!” making you feel guilty about not finishing your food.
If you are in this club or have this mentality at meals then I want you to ask yourself these question next time “What is more wasteful? Throwing away a few bites of food or eating them when I don’t want or need them?”. It can be a tough club to ditch but once you get into the habit of listening to your fullness cues vs. just eating everything on the plate you will be able to stop overeating. Now that’s not to say that some days you won’t need to eat the whole plate. Our hunger levels vary from day to day and meal to meal. So, it’s not always a bad thing to clean your plate. Just make sure that it is out of hunger not habit.
Are You In Scarcity Mode?
If you have been trying to follow a diet, meal plan or timing of your meals that have some pretty rigid food rules you may be in scarcity mode. When this happens and you do allow yourself to eat these foods (like carbs, sweets etc.) you can’t stop overeating them. Your body wants to eat it ALL while you are allowing yourself to eat it because it doesn’t know when you will allow yourself to eat them again. When you label foods as “bad” it makes them more exciting and the “good” food less appetizing. When you release these rules and you know you can eat that food (cookie, candy, pasta, etc.) again soon, the “bad” food loses the excitement factor allowing you to stop when full and have less cravings!
Stop Overeating By Becoming a Mindful Eater
Becoming a more mindful eater is a great way to listen to your body, your hunger and fullness cues and learn to stop before you overeat. But how do you know if you’re eating mindlessly and how do you eating mindfully? Well if you can’t stop overeating, think about if any of these common scenarios sound familiar beyond what we talked about above. Are you eating because:
- It’s available
- You are distracted
- You’re trying to distract yourself from feelings
- It looks or smells good
- To fill time or out of boredom
- To eat now (or finishing the plate now) in fear that food might not be available later when we are hungry
Here are some tips to become more mindful and gain control of how much you are eating! Let’s put a stop to overeating now so you can have a healthy relationship with food and feel your best!
- Slow down when you’re eating
- Pay attention to what and how much you are eating
- Listen to your hunger and fullness cues
- Don’t eat directly out of the container or box
- Before you eat stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or still hungry
- Practice saying no, and don’t be afraid to package the remaining for later or throw it away
- Ditch all the rigid food rules and labels of good vs bad
By trying out these tips you can gain control of how much you are eating and finally stop over eating. If you are still having trouble overeating or have not nutrition questions click the link below to chat!
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