If you're struggling with overeating, know that you're not alone. The prevalence of disordered eating in society is higher than ever, particularly in Western cultures where food takes on such heavy personal and cultural meaning, and access to many kinds of food both healthy and unhealthy is easier than ever.
You may often ask yourself "why am I overeating?"
Whether you're suffering from the emotional effects of overeating, such as guilt, self-recrimination and regret, or the common physical side effects including bloating, tiredness and heaviness, many of us are familiar with the often negative feelings that can follow a bout of overeating.
Rather than beat yourself up for the act of overeating itself, it's more important to ask yourself why you're drawn to the pattern of eating too much again and again. As with all emotional patterns and addictions, what led us to this point is unique and very personal - but there are always ways to feel better.
1. Identify your triggers
If your reason for overeating is because you suffer from binge eating, in order to stop the cycle, as with any bad habit, it's super important to pin-point what triggers the emotions that lead you to overeat. This is quite a challenge, so one way to tackle this hurdle is to keep a food diary.
Begin tracking your emotions around food, and soon you will be able to identify patterns between certain feelings and certain foods, food types or meals. From here you can begin to formulate a diet plan or a no-go list to ensure that you no longer have the urge to binge eat.
2. Don't skip your meals
One of the leading causes for overeating is pretty simple: hunger. If you're someone who skips breakfast, or maybe lunch (perhaps you have a deadline at work that you need to meet, so lunch just passes you by), you will likely be extremely hungry when it gets to dinner, right?
This means that the portion you make will likely be way larger than a regular portion you would normally allocate, as you might feel like you need to overcompensate. This often leads to binge eating, which is both uncomfortable and not great for your health.
3. Try to slow down your eating
Although you may be hungry, try and eat at a slower pace. It has been suggested that eating too quickly can increase stress levels, lead to weight gain and reduce your nutrients absorption.
Not only does eating too fast lead to the above issues, but it also reduces the overall enjoyment of the dining experience. Slow down! It's not a race. Rest, relax, meal times are about fuelling your body efficiently and trying delicious dishes.
What can I do after overeating?
Firstly it's important not to be hard on yourself. Tackling habits such as this one is no easy task. Sometimes overeating is through lack of time, sometimes through harmful triggers and sometimes through binge diets, but whichever the case, following the above tips will help you on your way to dealing with overeating.
- Take a walk to stimulate your digestion
- Drink some water to enhance hydration
- Don't lie down, this will unsettle your stomach
Access the help you need
Finally, we felt it was important to reiterate the importance of accessing the help you may need if you are particularly struggling with binge eating. Dealing with over eating is a daunting challenge and you should never struggle alone.
It's more important than ever to look after your mental health, and it's vital that if you are suffering, you talk to dedicated professionals and charities, such as the below:
- Mohiuddin, A. K. (2019). A skipping breakfast everyday keeps well-being away. Open Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2(1). Click here