Does Overeating Negatively Impact Your Life?
When I was gaining the majority of my weight, one of the biggest struggles I faced was the urge to overeat (shocker... I know...)
Funny enough, I actually struggled with overeating MORE once I was losing weight than when I was still gaining.
When I decided to "dance with the devil" and begin an episode of extreme overeating, I normally reached for my two favorites: Double Stuff Oreos and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream...
For me, overeating was mostly brought on from "Trigger Foods".
(I'll cover Trigger Foods a little later in this post...)
A popular dieting method has recently sprung up called Flexible Dieting. The idea is that you can eat anything in moderation as long as you don't eat excess calories.
This is mostly true, but this doesn't help people who have an "all or nothing" kind of mindset like many overweight/obese people struggle with.
If you share this "all or nothing" type of mindset sounds like you, then you may need to take a different approach to overcome the urge to overeat.
Factors that can Lead to Overeating
Trigger foods are going to vary from person to person. I, for example, cannot control myself around warm cookies and ice cream.
These two foods create some kind of insatiable monster within my brain that can only be stopped after the package or container is emptied.
Both of my brothers were naturally skinny growing up; neither of them had any weight issues. There could be a pack of Nutty Bars sitting in our cabinet for weeks and neither of them would touch it.
They could eat a few cookies a day and feel completely satisfied...
I was the opposite.
I had to avoid the sweets cabinet like it was the plague. I was "all or nothing"
(side note- have you ever had a Nutty Bar? They are probably one of the greatest packaged sweets on this planet. I salute you Little Debbie.)
I actually have a distinct memory of being a kid and coming home after school, grabbing a full row of Oreos and a glass of milk, and watch netflix as I drowned myself in Chocolate-Creamy goodness...
If this sounds like you, then I have some advice:
If controlling quantities is a serious struggle, then don't buy the trigger foods in the first place. The saying "out of sight, out of mind" is very applicable here.
Buying foods that you know you will overeat is like pulling the pin on a grenade and throwing it in your fridge. Keep the trigger foods out of the house and you won't have to worry about them.
We only have so much willpower, having sugary foods sitting around will cause you to constantly deal with the urge to overeat.
Extreme Low-Calorie Dieting
There is plenty of research that shows how extremely low calorie diets lead to overeating and binge eating.
Extreme dieting has little to no sustainability in the long run and eating too low in calories will eventually turn on you as your body fights back for fuel.
I hit a weight loss plateau around 200 pounds (after 105 pounds down from my starting weight). My first thought was that I was obviously eating too many calories, so I dropped my food intake even lower.
I wouldn't be surprised if my calorie intake was somewhere around 1400 calories during this time, which is EXTREMELY low for a 5'11" male.
On top of my low calorie diet, I was working out 6-7 time a weeks and doing hours of cardio. My body was under and insane amount of stress.
There should be no surprise that this type of dieting constantly evoked my desire to overeat. My body needed more food and I wasn't listening. I would diet on 1400 calories for 6 days and then give into my body's demands and overeat upwards of 6,000-7,000 calories!
By the end of the week, my calories would equal out and I wouldn't lose any weight. So as you can see, extremely low calorie dieting is a recipe for disaster. Creating a modest deficit of 20-25% under your maintenance calories is ideal.
alrighty – now that I have covered some of the factors that lead to overeating, I wanted to provide you with a few tips to help you overcome those urges.
Tips to Avoid Overeating
Buy Single Serving Treats
Who do you think is more likely to binge?
- Timmy, who has a wide variety of trigger foods sitting in the kitchen, or
- Tommy, who doesn't bring trigger foods into his home and would have to go outside, get in the car, drive to the grocery store, and drive back home to overeat.
Sorry Timmy, looks like you're out of luck...
Timmy would obviously be more likely to overeat considering he has trigger foods sitting in his home, however, Tommy might end up restricting so much that he finds the desire to overeat so great that he does muster of the energy to drive to the local Mcdonalds for some late night quad-stackers.
This is where single-serving treats can come in handy...
I suggest you find foods that aren't major trigger foods and that are also individually packaged. This will allow you to enjoy a treat in moderation while satisfying the need to overeat.
I buy organic dark chocolate bars for my single serving treats. The brand that I buy are around 300 calories and it's just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and the angry hunger monster living inside of me (aka the urge to overeat.)
Find a food that you both enjoy, but also don't feel a major trigger towards. Make sure that this food is individually packaged so that you don't have to weigh anything out or take the whole box/container/bag with you.
Pro Tip: If the food you like isn't individually packaged, you could try using plastic bags to separate it into your own single serving sizes.
Utilize Cheat Meals From Time to Time
Cheat days can either a good or bad thing depending on the situation. They are bad when used as an excuse to overeat, but they can also be used strategically to help settle down the constant desire to overeat.
One major weight loss mistake that I made was never allowing for a cheat meal. I thought that cheat meals would only slow down my progress. I was under the impression that stricter dieting would result in better progress.
I have since found the usefulness of the occasional cheat meal. It has helped improve my mentality towards eating by allowing an occasional meal where I don't have to mentally track what I am eating.
But there is definitely some planning that needs to take place to ensure you don't overdo it.
If you plan out a cheat meal, you can use that cheat meal as a way to detour the feelings to overeat before hand. Simply knowing that you are going to have a meal soon where you have little to no limits can save you from overeating.
Plan out a cheat meal once or twice a week. Don't go overboard at this meal, but simply eat until you are content (I normally aim for 80-85% fullness).
A word of warning: Don't allow your cheat meal to turn into a cheat day!
A cheat meal is great, but a cheat day is one of the worst things you can do. Doing so puts you into the mindset that nothing in sight is off limits and you could easily eat upwards of 10,000 calories in a single day...
I also recommend that you make a cheat meal the LAST meal of the day. If you have your cheat meal for, say breakfast, you may ignite the desire to overeat later in the day.
Create Positive Habits
I am a huge believer in the power of habit.
There is no denying the fact that we are creatures of habit and that we need to manipulate habits to reflect our goals.
The greatest habit I have come to develop is a morning routine.
My morning routine has become so ingrained in my everyday life that I sometimes have to force myself to have a little fun at night instead of going to bed early!
By creating positive habits, you are able to lessen the likelihood of screwing up. This is because habits allow you to think less about the task at hand.
When you create positive habits that work towards achieving your fitness goals, you find that making progress becomes automatic.
You want to get to a point where fitness becomes second nature and nearly effortless.
Overeating is a serious issue, and if you find that none of the suggestions about help, then I would love to help you out. Feel free to send me a message via email.
I am lucky enough to have identified what things lead to the urge to overeat, and I have eliminated them. If you struggle with overeating, try applying the tactics I went over in this article.
You may find that the cure for you overeating desires is as simple as planning a cheat meal, or avoiding certain trigger foods!
14-Day Fat Loss Forever
Enroll in this FREE course and learn exactly how to lose fat, build the body of your dreams, and end your struggle with weight once and for all.