Overeating is, unfortunately, a modern-day epidemic. It can be caused by unruly emotions, a negative relationship with food, dieting behaviour and pressure on yourself, family issues, stress and fear. In my own community, I’ve seen the pattern of overeating and bingeing increase dramatically in the past couple of years. Please know, you are not alone and follow these tips:
1. Remember that you can have more food later.
It takes 20 minutes to digest. So, tell yourself that if you’re still hungry after you’ve eaten and digested, you can go back for more. There’s no need to inhale your food, or eat everything right now.
2. Remove the fear around not having enough food.
Many people overeat because they believe there won’t be enough food for them. If this is the case in your house, ask the person who cooks to make more food, or takeover the cooking yourself. There are plenty of quick, easy recipes and budget-friendly grocery shopping tips on my blog.
3. Let go of the mentality that the ‘diet starts on Monday.’
From now on, I want you to view the healthy life as a long-term lifestyle. No extremes, just balance. If you restrict and deprive yourself, you will end up cracking under pressure and overeating. All diets backfire, eventually. Instead, commit to eating whole foods that make you feel well.
4. Forgive yourself.
Forget about what you ate yesterday or on the weekend. Trust that your body can break down that imperfect food you ate, then get on with your journey of healing. If you slipped up today, let it go. Your body can handle the odd slip-up; it can’t handle an influx of sugary, fatty foods – so don’t write the rest of the day off and binge.
5. See a therapist to uncover what’s missing in your life.
When you emotionally eat, chances are, you’re trying to fill a hole in your life. Ask yourself: what are you really hungry for? Maybe it’s love, happiness, acceptance or recognition. Identify the emotion, and then shower yourself with self-love. Food isn’t the answer.
6. Plan your meals ahead of time.
Structure is really helpful for emotional overeaters and binge-eaters. On a Sunday, map out your meals for the week so you know exactly what to expect. Make sure you’re eating regularly – every 2-3 hours – to keep your energy up and blood sugar levels in check.
7. Enjoy a late snack.
Every day, enjoy a protein-rich snack at 4-5pm. I swear by this. It not only lifts energy and mood, but helps to prevent binge eating/overeating in the afternoon and at dinner, and combat cravings afterwards. It also allows you to feel more in control of food choices. So, please plan for this snack, and savour it! If you know you’re going to be out and about all day, pack a snack: I usually carry raw nuts, JSHealth Protein Balls, a protein bar, homemade seed/nut slice, or carrot sticks with hummus/tahini.
8. Avoid sugar and coffee in the afternoon.
To curb your sugar cravings and reduce overeating, be careful about what you eat in the afternoon. Specifically, avoid sugar (including natural sugars, like fruit) and coffee. Sure, sugar may lift you up for a while, but it sends you on a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster – so when you crash, you overeat or crave sugar.
9. Sleep longer.
Being tired makes everything harder and ‘quick fixes’ (i.e. food) more appealing. Try to sleep for eight hours – even if it means going to bed two hours earlier than usual.
10. Nurture yourself in other ways besides food.
When you’re feeling stressed and tired, nourish your mind and body: have a bath, go for a walk, get a mani, hit a yoga class, plan a holiday, meditate, call a friend, read a book, or sip on chai tea. You do you.
11. Give yourself permission to enjoy all the foods you love – in small amounts.
Indulgence is so important when it comes to breaking the bingeing cycle. Yes, you read that right. Allow yourself to indulge in your favourite meals or treats once or twice a week, and savour each and every bite with no guilt. This is so much better than eating until you feel sick, and it’s actually healthy. Trust me.
Jessica Sepel is one of the founding members of the Women’s Health Fitfluential Network. Jess believes in inspiring us to “nourish our bodies rather than punish them […] I believe our diet culture has caused women to have a complex relationship with food and their bodies."
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