Every time someone asks how can I stop eating so much my heart always goes out to them because I spent years going through the diet / binge cycle and know how it feels for food to be the centre of your world and also the pain it causes when using food to squash down your emotions.
I used to use food for everything – if I was bored I would eat, if I was upset I would eat, if I was happy I would eat, if I was fearful I would eat – you name it, I would eat for it! I felt constantly uncomfortable, bloated and out of control. Not a nice feeling to have at all as you probably well know and certainly not good for maintaining a healthy weight. I still struggle from time to time and I think it is important to realise that some of our eating habits run very deep and can be harder to shake off.
The first step in learning how to stop eating so much is to explore the reasons that you eat in the first place. Now there may be many reasons why you might eat when you are not hungry – we all have our own unique life experiences, but here we are going to explore just 2 of the main ones that I frequently come across.
The first reason is habit. If you have been overeating for a long time, it may be that you have developed unhealthy habits over the years that have stayed with you. This may stem back to your childhood when you were rewarded with food and treats which remained with you well into adulthood. It may be that it has become normal to have a big dessert after your evening meal or to eat cake at work a few times a week. Whatever it is for you, habits can feel like they are hard to break but with some conscious effort, it can be done.
The second reason we eat too much is to tranquilise emotions. People who do this will recognise the feeling of ‘numbing out’ when they start eating, almost becoming trance like and using food as a way of stuffing feelings down. It’s almost as if focusing on the ‘eating’ takes your mind off of ‘feeling’. However, this isn’t healthy in the long term as the feelings soon re-surface once the eating stops causing a cycle of binging that can quickly become uncontrollable.
So whether you can relate to one of the above reasons or have others of your own, eating too much can be a miserable existence and prevent you from achieving the healthy body that you deserve.
So what steps can you take to make changes in these areas?
The best place to start is by keeping a journal for a week or so. In this journal, track what you eat and when and what was going on at that time for you. This can be one of the most important and revealing steps that can get you on the right track to making the changes you desire.
For instance, if you discover that it is a habit for you to eat late at night in front of the TV; you can learn how to stop eating so much by changing your patterns. This could be as simple as being conscious of it and practicing sitting without a snack to hand for longer and longer periods until it becomes normal not to eat in front of the TV. Or you may choose to change your activity in the evening so that you are not stuck in front of the TV and instead start going out for a walk, have a long bubble bath or do something else that you love.
If you discover that there are certain emotional triggers that start a binge, you may choose to try and deal with these differently so that you can learn how to stop eating so much when the emotion comes up. For instance – if getting stressed at work is a trigger for you and makes you want to empty the chocolate vending machine. Do something different instead such as having a low calorie chocolate drink or getting a quick walk in the fresh air to release the stress.
Whatever your reasons, making sure you keep a habit or mood journal can be a great tool to help you learn how to stop eating so much and identifying and tweaking those habits or emotional responses can start setting you free from the unhealthy patterns that are holding you back. Don’t under-estimate the power of making small changes – these can soon all add up to bring you some big results over time.
Are you an emotional eater or have you got some great tips for overcoming overeating? We would love to hear your comments below!
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