Do you maybe take binge eating a little too far? Are you looking to stop overeating?
Overeating is much more common than you think. Sometimes it can be associated with medication, eating disorders or plainly an unhealthy lifestyle. It is important to be in contact with your doctor about the health concerns that you may have and to seek help if needed.
Before getting too worried about it though, let’s go through some of the things that you could be doing to keep your diet and cravings in check.
Binge eating or overeating?
They are both pretty similar but there are differences between them.
Overeating is simply eating more than you should, that means having a second dessert or snacking more than you should. There is usually not a lot of thought behind overeating, most of the time it is unconscious or due to a lack of awareness of how much you should be eating. It is going to be difficult to stop overeating unless you pay attention to when and what you eat.
Binge eating, in its simplest form, is a more calculated and aware version of overeating, both prior as well as afterwards. When you are binge eating, you are aware that you are eating more and usually it includes eating in secret and feeling guilty afterwards. People who binge also experience a loss of control that leads to excess, like eating an entire cake on your own or far past after feeling full.
Binge eating can be characterized as an eating disorder when it goes past the occasional binging. That does not mean that you cannot get over it, it only means that it will be easier done with the guidance of your doctor. The solution might be easier than you think if you ask for it.
If that sounds like something you could relate to, know that awareness is more important than punishment. Try to observe yourself more than you criticize. Never talk bad of yourself for struggling with something.
There are still things you can do on your own that will set up a solid base to build up from. Let’s start with some basics.
What might cause overeating?
Lack of proper nutrition
Everybody and every metabolism work differently and according to individual needs. If you do not supply for those needs, your body will try to replenish with the fastest route possible, the cravings.
Usually, cravings arise when you are dieting by eating too little, or generally by not consuming enough nutrients. That makes sense as your body’s goal is to survive and get all the substances it needs. The problem with that is that cravings are usually the last resort and they don’t appear in the form that you would want them to.
If you have not had enough fruit, your body might crave after something sugary like pastry and candy. If you have not had enough dietary fats, you might crave for a chocolate instead of peanut butter or avocado. Every craving is a translation of something that your body is lacking.
Lack of good quality sleep
We eat to provide our body with nutrition that will be converted into energy. We sleep to allow our body to recover and rest. If one is off balance, the other will be affected. If you do not pay attention to your sleeping pattern, it is likely that it is not even a pattern any more. Do you need to be up at a certain time? Why not be asleep at a certain time as well?
It is important for our circadian rhythm to be calibrated according to our daily needs. In order to be able to get good quality sleep, you are going to need consistency. To learn about how to achieve better sleep quality, the first step is to pay attention to the time you go to bed and the time you wake up, is it the same every day?
It is very easy to turn to calories for energy when your sleep is not cutting it. It is also very difficult to stop overeating if your energy levels are low to begin with. The second and equally important step to a balanced diet is a balanced sleeping schedule.
There is no consistency
If there is no planning behind your meals, it is very easy to overeat as well as to under eat. It might sound trivial to be planning your meals as well as what they are going to be, but if you leave it to chance, chances are you are not going to get it right.
A vast amount of people think that knowing how much and what they should be eating, is a science far out of their reach. Most also think, that they only really have to turn to a dietitian if the problem really gets out of hand as well as that this is their only way to know about dieting.
What about educating yourself on what and how much of you need? What about taking care of yourself not so you don’t have any problems, but to be healthy? I guarantee you that it is a lot easier than you think and it takes much less thought and time if you know what you will be eating a week ahead.
You are bored?
It might sound funny at first, but boredom is actually pretty big on eating when you don’t really want to.
Have you ever found yourself opening the fridge only to take nothing out of it and then open it up again only to do the same?
Newsflash, you are not hungry you are bored. This can be more of a problem when you are stuck home. The best remedy for that is to find something that you enjoy doing or to do the things you never had the time to before. Also spending the day in front of a screen is not going to be of any benefit on that either.
You wait too long until you ask for help
That can be seen in more than one places. Be that nutrition, physical or emotional health, we tend to believe that unless we make it all on our own, we are not good enough or capable enough.
Pride is no virtue and you do not need to reinvent the wheel. The ways that can help already exist, most of the time it is so much easier to find a permanent solution if you just ask for some help from someone who is there to help you anyway. You do not have to be an expert at what you do as well as anything else in the world, stick to one thing at a time.
What can you do to stop overeating?
1. Take control of what and when you eat
I hope you are ready because what I am about to tell you will be both shocking, as well as nearly impossible.
The number one thing you can do to help you stop overeating as well as help you live a healthier life is …..
To count your calories and macros!
Terrible right? Well, the thing is that once you learn some of the basic information, put some effort into planning your meals and prepare them, eating as well as keeping track of it will be easier than it was before. You can learn all about it at Counting Macros and Calculating Calories.
When you are planning out your diet, you will be tempted to go on a very strict calorie deficit in order to lose weight. I would advise against that at this stage. What you should be focusing on right now is to pick what you will be eating and when. I have also included a tool that will allow you to track the things you eat, doing that you will also learn what foods contain what macro-nutrients as well as calories.
This is not the time to lose weight, this is the time to see how you react when you have had all the calories and nutrients you need. Find how much is your maintenance calories and stick to that, do not cut down on carbs and do not cut down on fats, you need both.
We want to see if you can stop overeating by supplying your body with all the needed nutrients and calories.
Many times when we have not had enough dietary fats, cravings start to kick in to fill that void any way they can. It will not be easy to stop overeating if cravings keep on kicking in.
2. Fix your sleeping routine
Consistency is big with humans. All we look for is consistency so that we do not have to be constantly adapting to new circumstances. Realizing that will give you a massive insight when it comes to fixing problems before they even appear.
What we need to understand is that we have to take control of simple habits and manipulate where we are consistent at. Things like dieting, working out and sleeping, will require consistency and repetition in order to achieve a lifestyle that is working for us.
On the other hand, within your workouts you need to have diversity in order to avoid hitting a plateau.
Sleep will be step number 2, lack of it and lack of energy is going to require that you eat more. In order to stop overeating, good quality sleep will be important. Learn all about How to Sleep Better here and smash that sleeping routine.
3. Find something to keep you active
That may sound trivial when you have been struggling with overeating for a while, but trust me on this. A combination of small changes is going to take you to the big change you are looking for. Before asking for help, try to help yourself as much as you can first.
Boredom is the root of many bad habits. When we are bored and don’t consciously do something about it, we will eventually choose to do something unconsciously. Think about how a morning routine can help you.
Instead of living it to chance, take control. Choose to do something that will provide you with a sense of progress every day. You can get so beautifully creative with that. Let’s see some examples:
- start writing
- start reading
- pick up an online cooking class
- do some gardening (turn your balcony into a tropical paradise)
- pick up photography
- paint the house
- organize the house
- start painting
- or anything else that you enjoy
These are three simple workout formats you can try at home:
What not to do: Do not get stuck behind a screen. If you think that isolating yourself and watching Netflix all day is a form of occupation, it isn’t. What you are doing is simply distracting yourself, the effect of that will have adverse consequences on your emotions and diet very quickly.
4. Be kind to yourself
Its ok, struggling with something is about as human as it gets. Gaining weight, is ok. Wanting to change is also ok.
Being harsh with yourself is doing more harm than it does good. If there is something you are doing that is not helping you to be a better you, the only person you are going to have to deal with is yourself.
When was the last time that insulting someone helped you resolve a problem efficiently?
What to do: Be understanding, be patient and be there for yourself.
At this stage, all you need to do is understand what you are doing that you want to be doing differently. Once you find that, understand that you can do it, because you can. But changes do not happen overnight, give time to observe and see what it is that is happening.
i.e. at this point of the day I seem to be craving for something sweet. Ok, what was I doing up until now?
Have I slept enough for today?
Is there something that is bothering me?
Have I already had all the meals I was supposed to have by now?
Yes? Maybe I should have had something different or some more.
No? Well probably it is time to have that now.
Observe, pay attention. Get to know how you work.
5. Limit temptations
If you think it is all about will power, it is not. Will power is the starting power you need, it is not the force to keep you going. If you are surrounded by all short of sweets and junk, constantly having to refrain from them is not discipline, its torture.
Out of sight out of mind, I am not saying that by not having it handy you will not want to have it. You definitely will and you might even be tempted enough to go get some. That’s ok, it is much better to have to leave the house every time you want something “less healthy” rather than having it available.
If you have snacks at the ready, you are going to be snacking even when you do not want to that much.
You may have noticed that all the things that you can do to help you stop overeating or even binge eating, have something in common, taking control.
Control is not as simple as black and white. We are never going to have control of everything that is going in our lives, but we also do not need to. Sometimes we will even feel that we are losing control even on the things that we had control of previously and that is ok.
When you start to notice that you are losing control over big things, it is likely that you were not paying attention to little things. Yoga teaches you that the first thing to do when meditating is to control your breathing. This is the same way you can regain your composure when you are having a panic attack, by controlling your breathing.
The moral of the story is to help yourself by slowly tacking back control over the little things. You never know how much of an impact simple things such as these are going to have.
Is it worth a try?
References and Useful links:
- Eating Disorder Hope, “Am I Overeating or Do I Have a Binge Eating Disorder” Reviewed & Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC
- healthline, “Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, and Asking for Help”, By Written by Elise Mandl, BSc, APD — Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP