For almost 10 years, my first thought when I woke up was this: “I promise myself I will not overeat. I will stick to my diet.” And by noon most days, I had already blown it. It’s a promise commonly spoken by people trying to diet and just as frequently broken as evidenced by the fact that so many people struggle with overeating. That’s why the majority of Americans are overweight or obese – they eat more than they need. If you want to break the cycle of eating too much and lose weight, you’ve got to understand why you overeat.
1. It’s There
Food is basically everywhere and its availability makes it easy to eat any time, any place, and in almost any circumstance. Make conscious, informed choices and don’t eat food from your office vending machine just because you have a dollar in your pocket.
2. You Like It
“But I like food,” is a common exclamation I hear. I like food too, but I learned to enjoy the foods I like in smaller quantities. There’s nothing wrong with loving food, but there is something wrong when too much food causes you to be overweight.
Some habits are good and some aren’t. Eating candy after dinner or automatically pulling through Starbucks to get your 450-calorie coffee each morning are bad habits if you want to lose weight. I made a chart of bad food habits I wanted to break. It helped to see all my bad food habits written down in black and white.
4. Social Pressure
You may eat more food when you are around your friends who love to eat, and eat, and eat. If this describes your social group, tread carefully. Changing your eating habits around them can cause some friction. Be kind, but stay firm to your goals.
If you’ve ever lost a few pounds and then started overeating again, you are falling into the complacency trap. As you drop pounds, don’t add more food back to your diet unless you are trying to find your maintenance point. Stay focused on your goal.
I know it’s counterintuitive, but feeling frustrated with your weight loss progress can make you want to overeat. It’s almost like you are getting back at your own failure. Instead of letting frustration get you down, figure out what’s going wrong and fix it.
I used to head directly from my Weight Watchers meeting to the McDonald’s that was practically next door. I know now that I was totally rebelling against the fact that I had to diet. Of course at the end of the day, I was only hurting myself. Next time you find yourself inhaling food you know isn’t on your plan, ask yourself why. You may discover that you are rebelling against yourself.
8. Lack of Planning
If you plan and shop for your weekly meals ahead of time, you’ve always got what you need and are probably going to do pretty well at sticking to your diet. But if you don’t plan, you may overeat because you end up going out and those restaurant portions are just so big. Of course you don’t have to eat the whole portion, but it’s often what happens.
No list of overeating causes would be complete without emotions. It’s probably one of the most common causes whether done from anxiety or boredom. Sometimes you can fix overeating from emotions by being more mindful of why you are overeating and sometimes a good therapist or counselor can help.