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.
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.
Qualified nutritionist Anna McCormack is an expert at helping to uncover the triggers behind overeating, and inspiring the honestly and willingness required to develop a healthier, more positive relationship with food. She's put together some tips and advice on the best ways to deal with overeating.
1. Start with acceptance and understanding
There is not enough said about the value of bringing acceptance and understanding to oneself throughout any process in life, and our diet is no exception. If you're aware that you have a tendency to overeat and would like to change this, remember that it can take time to make those changes. Acceptance and understanding is a great place to start.
Some will find this simple, and for others it may be more difficult, but comparison is the thief of joy. Your relationship with acceptance is your own, and the more of it you have the more you will ensure that the negative feeling of guilt or shame, or being down on yourself will have no airtime.
2. Practice regular self care
The positive effects of self care can never be overstated. Referring to the caring actions throughout the day we make towards ourselves, these acts can be small or large. Brushing your teeth every day with the intent to keep them clean and healthy, making sure you get enough rest in the evening, exercising each day even if it's simply a 20 minute walk and taking a few moments throughout the day to check in with your body and how its feeling are all examples of self care.
These things may seem simple, but they go a long way when it comes to supporting our bodies and our choices. The more we care for ourselves, the less likely we are to make choices that are overindulgent or harmful to our bodies and the more awareness we will have when we are looking to make such choices. Making self care our everyday focus builds a solid foundation in our lives and is something we can always come back to in times of stress or discomfort.
3. Take responsibility
It can be incredibly empowering when we take responsibility for an area of our lives, and our diet is no exception. Being responsible with our food choices and the quantities we eat allows us the space to explore why we are overeating in the first place.
Once we get to the core of what it is that triggers us to overeat - be it an anxiety we are holding in our bodies, the need to comfort ourselves or attempting to stifle unpleasant or unwanted emotions - taking responsibility for this allows us to develop a greater awareness of ourselves and our bodies and therefore increases our understanding of ourselves.
This is merely the beginning of your journey of deepening and strengthening your relationship with both food and with life. How our body is feeling is the greatest marker we have when it comes to the types and quantities of foods we need eat for good health and wellbeing, communicating with us in both obvious and subtle ways, with a huge array of feelings, cravings and symptoms. Listening to what your mind and body are asking you for is a great starting point to developing a healthy relationship with our diet, and one we need never stray from.