Do you feel like you cannot make weight loss progress because every attempt is ruined by overeating? There are emotional and physical drivers that keep your desire to eat alive, even after your stomach feels full. This blog post reveals those factors and provides you with a practical game plan to comfortably get eating under control.
Why You Overeat & Solutions– At-A-Glance
- Your body encourages you to eat when food is available. It is natural to want to continue eating once you start.
- To prevent overeating, uncover what motivates you by figuring out your big “WHY” (main reason).
- Use a Stopper to disrupt overeating. A Stopper is an item, drink, or activity that allows you to separate from food.
- A common tendency is to attempt to change everything at once. Focus on your food choices first to help your body reach a state of fat adaptation.
- When you are fat adapted, hunger and cravings decrease without effort because the fuel you need to get through your day is always available, coming from stored body fat.
Why You Are Struggling with Overeating [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Reasons why you overeat.
- The importance of finding your “why” (main reason) for losing weight.
- Tactics to help you stop overeating.
1. There’s No Guilt for Wanting to Keep Eating
First, it is good to establish that feeling guilty about wanting to eat is never appropriate. Food is necessary for your survival, and your body knows it, so it will always encourage you to eat.
It doesn’t care if you are carrying an extra 10, 50, or 100 pounds on your frame; it wants you to get energizing food inside today. To ensure you do eat, your body releases hormones and chemicals that make you want food. Therefore, you should never feel guilty for wanting to eat; it’s natural. Equally as important, you should never be mad at your body for feeling hungry; it’s just trying to help you keep going.
You’d be correct to say that humans are programmed to eat or even overeat. Overeating was a survival need for our early ancestors because food was scarce. Today, it can feel like an obstacle to healthy living. But, it is only an obstacle when you have no reason to stop eating.
2. You Have No Reason to Stop Eating
As I mentioned at the start of this article, there are emotional and physical drivers that sustain your desire to keep eating. To gain control, you want to have a clear reason to stop eating when you’re full and a simple strategy to move away from food.
Figure Out Your Why
To tackle the emotional side of this equation, you’ll want to figure out your big “WHY.” In other words, why do you want to stop overeating? This is a bit of a tricky question because there are things that the majority of us want.
We want to lose weight. We want to be healthy and we want to have more energy. Those are all valid reasons and great quality of life factors. Yet, despite being factual, they may not have that “it factor” that really motivates you to take action and stop eating once you’re full.
Sometimes it’s easy to find that motivating reason or that really big why. For instance, dieting is a lot easier to tolerate if you have a wedding in two weeks. That wedding is a “Why,” but it’s a single moment. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you need a “Why” with staying power. When you find it, it’s a game-changer, and there’s an exercise you can do right now to uncover it.
Grab a tablet and pen. Have a seat and write down 15 reasons you want to stop overeating. Coming up with 15 is important because it pushes you past those first few reasons that pop into everyone’s head, so your mind digs deeper, revealing that thing that resonates with you and makes you want to take action.
To give you an example, I want to share a few things a member of one of my programs uncovered when she did this exercise. She wrote, “I want to be comfortable having my picture taken. I want to stop looking pregnant at 55 and I want to be able to sit on plastic lawn furniture without fear.”
These are things that secretly bothered her. They weren’t things that she wanted to share with friends or family openly, but they impacted her happiness. When she could dig deep and find these hidden “whys,” she found motivation that turned into action.
Use a Stopper
You now have the emotional reason to stop eating, but what about the physical, hormonally-driven desire to keep eating? For that, you need an item, drink, or activity that allows you to separate from food. I refer to these eating disruptors as stoppers.
Stoppers are effective because they immediately disrupt your desire to keep eating. One way they do this is by changing the taste in your mouth. This would be true for minty things like chewing gum and brushing your teeth. Other items, like hot tea, take a long time to sip, giving your brain time to get the message that you are full.
3. You Attempt to Change Everything At Once
A common tendency that can backfire on you when you decide it’s time to rein in overeating is attempting to change everything at once. Here again, you can put some blame on your hormones.
When you find yourself ready for change and set a goal, that feeling of “let’s do this” fills you with excitement and motivation. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist, those positive feelings are due to a rush of hormones, specifically dopamine and serotonin, that produce a feel-good sensation throughout your body.
In other words, starting a goal feels great, and motivation is so high that you decide to tackle how much you eat and how often you eat and how much you exercise, and anything else you can think of. Unfortunately, this hormone high doesn’t last. When it decreases, so does your motivation.
This motivation dip doesn’t mean something has gone wrong with you or your plan. It is simply the way your physiology works. However, if you are unaware of this phenomenon, you may falsely accuse yourself of being a failure and binge eat.
The solution is to remember that while you may see room for improvement in multiple areas of your health, you don’t need to change everything at once. Also, it is normal to experience uncomfortable feelings when you are trying to change your relationship with food.
So work with your body, and you’ll find that there is a logical sequence of things to change that will ultimately lead to controlled eating. The first thing to focus on is your food choices because that, over time, will help you reach a state of fat adaptation.
4. You’re Not Fat Adapted
When you are fat adapted, fat loss goes on autopilot, and hunger and cravings decrease without effort. The only downside is that you must allow your body time to adjust.
Anyone can get fat adapted by changing their food choices and eating schedule in ways that encourage stable blood sugar levels and continual low insulin levels. When this state is reached, your body prefers to get its energy from fat rather than carbs. This is a real advantage in controlling hunger because carbs are used up much faster than fat.
You don’t store a lot of carbs or glucose in your body. Therefore, when you are carb-adapted, you need to keep eating because your body wants the carbs for fuel. When you are fat adapted, that fat can come from the foods you eat or from the body fat you carry, so hunger is not an immediate need to fill. In fact, when you are fat adapted, you notice that hunger loses its urgency, and you can comfortably stretch out periods between eating.
Fat adaptation occurs when you have restricted your carbohydrate intake enough to induce an increase in fat burning. If you struggle with overeating, remember that you don’t want to change everything at once. So, you don’t need to go from a poor diet to a strict, very low carb or keto diet overnight.
If you are new to a reduced-carb diet, keep your daily carbohydrate intake below 125 total grams, and then step down your intake until you see the signs of fat adaptation, such as easier fat loss, sustained energy, mental clarity, and less hunger and cravings. These changes come about because the fuel you need to get through your day is always available, coming from stored body fat.
Your body is an engineering marvel but often has child-like demands. When you struggle with overeating, you feel like the refined carbs that you crave do nothing for you but make you crave more and more of them. But, you can break this cycle.
Remember that your body can rely on different nutrients for energy. Specifically, it can burn free fatty acids and ketones derived from fat or glucose derived from carbs (even junk food carbs). If your body is accustomed to running on glucose, it will try to coax you into eating more of it by screaming at you with carb cravings, just like a kid in the toy store throwing a tantrum because you said no to the toy.
Fortunately, there is a game plan to stop overeating. First of all, never feel guilty about wanting to eat. We are programmed as humans to eat. But you can tweak that programming to give your body what it needs and get what you want. Start by digging deep to figure out why you want to stop overeating, use stoppers to draw that line, and focus on your food choices, working toward a fat adapted metabolism.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!