There are many reasons that we overeat, and rarely is it from hunger.

Bringing overeating under control

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There are many reasons that we overeat, and rarely is it from hunger. Overeating can immediately result in esophageal reflux – a very uncomfortable situation. But overeating can also cause an unhealthy weight gain because of the number of calories consumed at one time, and blood glucose spikes which will stress and overwork the pancreas. If you frequently find yourself overeating for any reason, take a minute for self-evaluation and reflection about this potentially unhealthy habit.       

There are common overeating triggers that can lead to excess calories:

  • Social eating with others who overeat
  • Comfort eating because of loss or disappointment
  • Using food as self-punishment if feeling guilty or ashamed
  • Out of frustration or fear
  • Being overly hungry, perhaps from skipping meals earlier in the day
  • Sugar addiction leading to excessive eating of sweets

These are some big topics to tackle if you identify any as reasons for overeating. But that is the first step to handle these overeating problems and to come up with a solution. We should eat to nourish our body but not overeat when angry, fearful, lonely, depressed or feel peer pressure to overeat.

You can develop some tools to address these overeating situations. For example, decide beforehand what you will order when eating with friends who seem to encourage excess eating. When emotions are fragile find another avenue to release the tension rather than turning to food – music, drawing, a walk, journaling those feelings, talking with a good friend, yoga and meditation are ways to relax that don’t involve food. Eat three healthy nourishing meals that are satisfying and not overly restrictive which ultimately leads to overeating later. And if needed, find a competent counselor specializing in disordered eating who can help you develop the tools to develop healthy eating habits.

Recipes to try:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.