"Yo-yo dieting is a huge issue, but for some reason, so many people still get on the fad diet hype...don’t do it! By suddenly giving away all your unhealthy food, swearing yourself off your favourite biscuits, or ditching breakfast, you’re only going to attract a food binge, and that’s the last thing you want."
Overeating is a serious problem that a lot of people suffer from, and this has only increased during the pandemic. Whether we’re baking god-knows-what type of bread or we’re trying out that new chocolate pudding recipe we found on Tik-Tok, people have taken to the kitchen (or to the world of food delivery) in the search of comfort!
Cooking up a storm in the kitchen is definitely a great way to reduce stress and explore creativity during a particularly soul-sucking time, but the thing is, it’s only healthy if you’re cooking up nutritious meals and eating healthy portions. However, if you’re struggling (like many of us are) with eating pretty much everything in sight in the hopes that it’ll make you happier, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Overeating not only leads to physical health issues, such as weight gain, hormonal imbalances, reduced quality of sleep, chronic inflammation, and a lower immune system, but it also damages mental health by lowering self-esteem, creating body image issues, stress, and anxiety. These are things you definitely don’t want to experience, especially not during an already stressful lockdown. But, you probably already knew that! The real question is, how can you stop it?
#1 Recognize What You’re Doing, Leave The Past In The Past and Start Afresh
The first step in the process of change is to recognize what you’re doing, and since you’re here reading an article on overeating, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re already at this stage, which is awesome. Recognising that the way you’re living isn’t benefiting your health and wellbeing is essential, but there’s no point recognising it and not taking action. So, obviously, now is the time to take action, and you can do this by simply and consciously deciding to leave the past in the past and committing to starting afresh. This is often the hardest hurdle to actually get over because too often people get hung up judging themselves for what’s happened and get stuck in a not-so-fun cycle of low self-esteem and denial. So, give yourself a huge pat on the back for getting to this point.
#2 Acknowledge Your Triggers
Overeating is often caused by specific triggers, and there’s plenty of stressful triggers out and about in the world at the moment! Do you find yourself eating ice cream out the tub when watching a pandemic announcement? Maybe whenever you have a work call you find your breakfast consists of a greasy 1,000+ calorie breakfast? Or perhaps whenever you feel that horrible pang of missing ‘the good old days’ where you could actually hug people, the food on your plate resembles carbohydrate-formed mountains?
Identifying your triggers will not only help you understand your overeating patterns better, but it will also allow you to deal with the emotions coming up in a much healthier way...
#3 Confront & Deal With How You Feel Instead of Reaching For Food
Overeating often stems from emotional turbulence, high stress, or fear of the unknown, as it provides comfort (although short-lived until the heartburn gets to you!). The thing is, if you continue to overeat, you’re not only going to put on a lot of weight, but you’re always going to avoid your real emotions. It’s important to confront your negative emotions and deal with them in a way that’s useful and proactive. Maybe it’s time to take that therapy session? Do you want to give mindfulness practices a go? Perhaps it’s a good idea to reach out to a friend when you’re feeling low? Swap overeating for dealing with what’s really going on.
#4 Don’t Suddenly Restrict Yourself
Yo-yo dieting is a huge issue, but for some reason, so many people still get on the fad diet hype...don’t do it! By suddenly giving away all your unhealthy food, swearing yourself off your favourite biscuits, or ditching breakfast, you’re only going to attract a food binge, and that’s the last thing you want.
Instead, reduce the amount of ‘bad’ foods you’re eating, reduce portion size, get informed about nutrition, think about some healthy alternatives to your favourite naughty indulgences, and put together a healthy meal plan...
#5 Start Meal Prepping
As much as I hate to admit, the idea of meal prepping reminds me of a body-building ex who used to take it super seriously, and it’s put me off for years! However, meal prepping is actually THE best -maybe he was right?!
Preparing your meals in advance doesn’t only mean that you can cook healthy food in batches and reduce waste, but it also means you don’t even have to think about what you’re going to eat so you’re never left too tired to cook so that you turn to the takeaway pizza place for help. For those that overeat, meal prep is a great way to ensure you always have healthy food in good size portions at your disposal -it’s not just for gym buffs counting macros!
#6 Pace Yourself When You Eat
People that overeat often shove down their food as if they’re in some kind of Man VS Food contest, which means that the body doesn’t actually register that it’s full and therefore allows the person to eat a lot more than they actually need. So, there’s a simple solution -slow down when you eat!
You might want to make sure you spend at least 20 minutes eating any meal, or make it a rule that you put your cutlery down in between bites. This way, you’ll get fuller faster and you’ll consume less. Doing this, you’ll actually be surprised at how much you used to eat after you were already full.
#7 Track Your Progress
Like every goal in life that you set, you should always track your progress so you can feel a sense of achievement. Tracking your progress means that you are able to see that every day was better than the day before, and then once you finally achieve your goal (in this case, having a healthy relationship with food and not overeating) you can celebrate your accomplishment!
Tracking your progress through food diaries and food tracking apps is useful for those struggling with overeating.
#8 Seek Help If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed
If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed or you’re unsure how to get to where you want to be without help, then be proactive seek out the help you need! Whether you get in touch with a therapist or coach, reach out to a support group, or confide in a friend, make sure you’re not struggling alone.
And remember, there’s no shame in bettering yourself and seeking support.
Be proud of yourself for taking responsibility and making a change to your health and wellbeing. Above all, don’t forget to celebrate the little wins, from reading this article and deciding to change, to switching the overconsumption of sugary sweets and sat-fat takeaway meals for well-portioned home-cooked goodness.
You got this!