Eating too much in one sitting or taking in too many calories throughout the day are common habits that can be hard to break.
While some people see these behaviors as habits that can be broken, they may indicate an eating disorder in others. Over time, eating too much food can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. Regardless of whether you have an eating disorder, breaking the cycle of overeating can be challenging.
When we eat foods we enjoy, the body releases dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure or reward, and it encourages us to eat even more. So even if overeating causes pain and discomfort, we may feel compelled to continue overeating.
However, some techniques can help stop overeating:
Get rid of distractions - This can mean working through lunch and staring at the computer, catching up with friends at dinner, or watching some tv after work with a bag of chips. Distracted eating is a habit that forms easily. Instead, focus on enjoying your food rather than the ritual of eating while doing things.
Know your trigger foods - Everyone has their foods that are hard for them to resist. It's always best to not even buy these foods or have them in the house. Don't even put yourself in a position to make bad choices.
Don't ban all your favorite foods - Mentally if you feel like you can't have certain foods, you are more likely to binge or really blow your diet. If you keep a few foods you enjoy in your diet and eat them in moderation, it makes it much easier to stick with healthy eating.
Reduce stress - It's a fact that stress eating is real! Remove as many things that cause you to stress as you can, and also do things that alleviate stress like exercise, meditating, and stretching.
Eat more fiber-rich foods, protein, and vegetables - All of these things will help you feel full all day and make it less likely you will want to overeat at meals.
Eat with like-minded people - When you eat with people who are also trying to make good decisions, you are more likely to adhere to a diet plan.
Learn the glycemic index and where certain foods fall on it - For the most part, try and avoid sugary, processed foods that will make your blood sugar level spiral out of control, which can lead to overeating.
Eat your meals slowly!
Limit your alcohol intake - Drinking alcohol lowers your inhibitions which can lead to overeating and bad choices!
Plan ahead - Always know when you start every day what foods you will be having at each meal. Whether that means preparing healthy meals from home and bringing them to work, or selecting food from restaurants that are on your healthy eating plan. Waking up and picking food as you go is setting yourself up for failure.
What are the long-term effects of overeating?
When you eat, your body uses some of the calories you consume for energy. The rest are stored as fat. Consuming more calories than you burn may cause you to become overweight or obese. Research from MDAnderson.org shows an increase for risk for cancer and other chronic health problems.
Overeating -- especially unhealthy foods -- can take its toll on your digestive system. Digestive enzymes are only available in limited quantities, so the larger the amount of food you eat, the longer it takes to digest. If you overeat frequently, over time, this slowed digestive process means the food you eat will remain in the stomach for a longer period of time and be more likely to turn into fat.
Overeating can even impact your sleep. Your circadian clock, which controls your sleep cycles, causes your sleep and hunger hormone levels to rise and fall throughout the day. Overeating can upset this rhythm, making it hard for you to sleep through the night.
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