How to Stop Overeating

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Overeating is physically uncomfortable and it can also leave you with a feeling of shame and loss of control, wondering how to stop overeating.

Why can’t I stop overeating? That’s what I used to ask myself. Now, I can go to any party or event, be stressed and not even be tempted to overeat. Here is my experience and some ideas on how to stop overeating.

This is the way to live my friends! And it’s not willpower! I simply don’t have the desire to overeat anymore.

For most women, the struggle with overeating is real. We are surrounded by so many choices that it probably seems impossible that you could simply eat food, when you are hungry and not worry about gaining weight or being able to resist the foods you worry are going to make you gain weight.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy eating, enjoy food, and enjoy the feeling of not being a slave to cravings or overeating.

Picture of Sara, the author. How to stop overeating.

How to Stop Overeating

Learning how to stop overeating does not involve dieting or depriving yourself. That kind of thing has been proven time and time again, to not work in the long term.

I also don’t think giving up on having a fit healthy body is a good option.

There is a way to have both! Be fit and healthy and NOT diet. It’s a matter of learning what are the causes of overeating and working with your mindset.

Food journal

I’ll share my story, but it’s one that other women have experienced as well.

Why Can’t I Stop Overeating?

As a teen, I began to feel like I was too big when I was 13! To tell you the truth, I worried about it, well, ever since. We are bombarded by the messages that we will never be thin enough. And for most of us, we are not going to be “thin.”

But I wanted to be!

It wasn’t until I turned 50, that I decided to give up dieting for good. In the 6 years since, I’ve been able to get to and maintain a nice weight for my body. Not only did this affect how I feel about my body, but it helped my skin and face.

Here’s what I think happened. I learned to eat in a way that didn’t depend on willpower at all and I learned to actually nourish my body.

Many women have a struggle with food, their body, and overeating. Food is required to live–it shouldn’t feel like a war you have to face every day.

Picture of woman with fork and knife. Overeating is physically uncomfortable and it can also leave you with a feeling of shame and loss of control wondering how to stop overeating.

How my Illness Led to Solutions

My personal journey started with being sick. My digestive system was a mess for a couple of years before I even considered that food might be the cause. In a serendipitous moment, I had the idea that maybe it was wheat. And it was.

Literally within a few days of not eating any wheat-based products, every single digestive problem I had, disappeared. Not got better—went away completely. All the embarrassing issues that I had for two years were gone.

This did not cause me to lose any weight though I felt so much better!

A year or so later, I did a Whole 30. This really changed how I looked at food. Again, I didn’t lose weight. However, I wasn’t overeating, and I felt that I was truly nourishing my body.

At some point, I realized that I WAS losing weight. I wasn’t eating as much, and I was not eating in the evenings.

Effective Ways to Stop Overeating

At that point, I became more intentional about the timing of my eating. I realized that having a long period of time between my last meal of the day and my first meal the next day was very helpful.

This was long before intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating was a thing. Now you see information about it all over the place.

For me, it was the combination of eating real food and not eating around the clock that changed things for me.

I was pretty strict for a few years and rarely indulged in sugar and not at all in wheat-based products. I exercised almost every day. I was able to get thin!

That level of strictness was not really sustainable all of the time. And it’s not required for me to feel and look good.

I’ve let myself gain about ten pounds because that weight is EASY to maintain. I don’t have to be 100% strict nor do I exercise as much.

I just get to live my life, move my body in ways that feel good, and eat food that tastes good.

What are the Causes of Overeating?

We ascribe a lot of reasons to why we overeat. We are lazy. We have no willpower. There’s too much good food around. We don’t have time to eat right. It’s emotional eating.

I think the answer is something completely different.

I believe it starts with those kinds of thoughts and beliefs and because we don’t know different, we eat in ways that reinforce those thoughts.

Our overeating and lack of willpower are physical manifestations of our thoughts and beliefs.

When you believe you have no choice but to overeat, you aren’t motivated to make real changes.

Instead, you try diet after diet, and when each diet eventually fails, this reinforces your belief that overeating is inevitable.

How many times have you slipped up on your diet and that leads to the rest of the day being blown, or the rest of the week, or even years?

Yeah, I know. It’s happened to me before. It has happened to all my clients too.

Pinterest pin with picture of woman with thumbs up. Text is How to Stop Overeating, no diet, gradual changes you can start today.

How do I Stop Overeating Once and For All?

It is possible to not overeat.

My clients all stop overeating.

I overeat so rarely, that the last time it happened, I got the idea for this post. I had bought some chips. Sometimes I really crave potato or tortilla chips. Most of the time, it’s not a big deal. But on this day, I ate the whole bag.

As I looked at my empty bag in dismay, I also laughed. Because, it caught me off-guard and I decided, I better not buy those darn chips again.

But I didn’t hate myself or tell myself that I had ruined anything! I threw the bag away and I didn’t give it another thought until today.

In the meantime, I’ve just been doing my usual thing of eating in a way that nourishes and supports my body. And not overeating.

Why Do You Overeat?

People overeat because they are hungry for something. Unfortunately, that rarely turns out to be food.

Overeating is sometimes a physical response to emotional pain. Sometimes you know what you are eating to numb and sometimes it is not obvious.

Other reasons for overeating is because some foods are designed to override our sense of fullness and create cravings for more of that food.

I think the reason we over eat is because we don’t allow ourselves to really enjoy eating. We either restrict ourselves too much or we eat things that don’t nourish our bodies.

Believe it or not, when I work with women, I usually start by eating MORE not less. Most women actually need more nutrition.

When you learn to eat enough to not be hungry and you mostly eat good food, then you begin to lose your cravings that drive you to overeating. There ARE effective ways to stop overeating.

Effective Ways to Stop Overeating

This is a process folks! It’s not an overnight solution.

Only eat when you feel hungry!

This sounds so simple to be almost like a joke. But it ain’t no joke! Most of us are not in tune with our hunger. In fact, many of us don’t even trust our bodies anymore to let us know when to eat and how much.

The first step to not overeating, is to wait until you feel actual hunger.

No, you don’t have to wait until you feel overwhelming hunger–just wait to eat until you can feel some hunger signals.

Don’t worry if this feels difficult at first; that is totally normal. We are not used to eating because we feel hungry.

Stop eating when you’ve had enough

This is the second part. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you’ve had enough.

This might take some practice. If you’ve been overeating, it will take some practice to stop when you feel like you’ve had enough. You don’t have to stop when you still feel hungry.

I recommend eating a little more if you are nervous about getting hungry too soon. This isn’t a diet, so there’s no plan to tell you the exact amount to eat.

That’s for you and your body to figure out. And it might be different every day.

Remember, you can eat again when you feel hungry.

Limit processed foods

Processed foods such as breads, pastas, junk food, chips, and all that stuff offer no nutritious benefit. However, that doesn’t mean you can never have them.

For me, I know they create more cravings for more, so I usually just avoid them.

And I rarely just eat them to eat them.

For my meals, I add more vegetables and healthy fats to keep me full, so I’m not as tempted to eat between meals or at night.

For my clients that eat a lot of processed foods, we don’t try to eliminate them all at once. We start with what feels easiest. And I almost always recommend eating more food, more: protein, vegetables, or fat.

One note, if you drink soda, sweet tea, or other drinks with a lot of sugar, I recommend weaning yourself off that stuff. It has no benefit and it is damaging in all ways.

Eat more healthy fats and oils

These days I am comfortable eating lots of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and even butter. These types of fats and oils help control my appetite, keep me full, and make food taste amazing.

Fat is considered a nutrient. It is required for your body to operate at its optimum. You need fat.

Most of us grew up being told fat was bad. We grew up with very unhealthy fats and oils. These days you can get really good fats and oils.

Start adding a tablespoon or two to all your meals. Your food will taste so much better!

And you’ll be feeling satisfied and full for much longer.

Eat two or three meals

After my Whole 30 experience, I finally learned that food has a purpose beyond tasting good. It is nutrition and the more foods I ate that provided nutrition, the better off I would be.

One of the important rules of Whole 30, is that you eat enough food at your meals, that you don’t snack or eat at night. You eat enough food and healthy fat, that you can easily go for many hours between meals.

I remember as a child that we only at at meal times. I had plenty of energy and I stayed slim until I got older and started snacking.

As an adult, I had to relearn the importance of not eating around the clock. About six years ago, I gave up snacking and eating between meals.

This was life changing!

There is such freedom in not needing snacks on hand or in being able to get from one meal to the next. I used to FEAR hunger! Now, I love the gradual building of hunger. It doesn’t come on fast, nor does it result in stress. It feels good.

I especially recommend not eating after dinner and fasting until your first meal of the next day. This long period of not eating is great for your body. Here’s an introduction to Intermittent Fasting.

How to Control Your Appetite and Quit Overeating

  • If possible, wait to eat until you feel the body sensation of hunger
  • Stop eating when you feel like you’ve had enough.
  • Limit sugar and processed foods.
  • Limit wheat and limit other grains.
  • Eat real food: eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats. I do eat some high carb vegetables every day such as potatoes, beets, carrots, or winter squash instead of bread or pasta.
  • Eat two or three meals a day.
  • Limit snacking between meals. (if you are getting hungry—eat more at your meals or add more fat.)
  • Try to get at least 12 hours after your last meal of the day before your first meal of the next day.
  • If I have a treat, I have it with a meal, not in-between.
  • No food is 100% forbidden, but I limit the things that I know will create cravings or make my tummy feel bad.
  • I make most of my meals at home.

Body Acceptance and Love

I want to end this with talking about accepting your body. Most people, do not love their bodies! Not only that, but we resent that we can’t just whip them into shape.

Our bodies are designed to be stable, to maintain a normal-for-us weight. Years of poor eating habits have left many of us with bodies that are not in a range that we are comfortable with.

It takes some time to implement new eating habits. It takes time for your body to adjust. You can’t do this for a week and expect everything to change.

Body acceptance and love means feeding your body and treating it right—no matter how much you weigh. It also means being patient with it, while it is adjusting to new foods and ways of eating.

While you are improving your eating habits, remember to move your body. Walks, yoga, stretching, and other exercise gets you in touch with your body. Begin to appreciate all the great things it is already doing.

Feed it, move it, and most of all love it!

For more posts on positive eating check these out.

How to Make Peace with Food

Secrets for Losing Weight After 50

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I'm a certified life and weight loss coach who helps women feel better and get the most out of their lives! The process of life coaching teaches you to love yourself and gain self confidence in a safe effective way.

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  1. […] hope to be around to see my grandchildren grow up. Part of this means more than wishing. Eating healthy, exercising, and finding other ways of taking care of myself are important. I don’t want to just […]

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Coach with Sara

Sara |

Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.