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Food, like cigarettes or drugs, is an addiction. Overeating is a very common problem that many people face and, like other addictions, has terrible consequences. Continuous overeating leads to weight gain, and, eventually, to becoming overweight, or even obese. An article from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even states “…for many individuals the practice of overeating is crucial in the development and maintenance of the obese state.” Being overweight or obese has many health consequences including, but not limited to, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Many people are aware that they are overeating, but they aren’t sure how to stop.
Overeating is an over-learned habit that is brought on by our emotions
A study that was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that overeating is an over-learned habit that is brought on by our emotions. It states that we learn to overeat when we are lonely, bored or anxious; and food is able to reduce our anxiety. This increases over time, creating a habit.
So, you are overeating, and want to stop, but what can you do to stop?
Do not eat while watching TV or any other activity
Set time aside to eat your meals, and make sure that the only activity you are doing at mealtime is eating. That way when you are done eating your meals, eating time is over. You should try to sit down at the table and eat. That means don’t eat in front of the TV, or while on the computer, or while you are doing any other activity. If you are eating while you are watching TV, you are more likely to overeat because there is nothing ending your eating time as watching TV is an ongoing activity.
Involve others in your environment
If you have a significant other or someone with whom you spend a lot of time, you can include them in breaking your overeating habit. That way they can provide emotional support, and it will make it much easier if you have someone doing it with you. You can be there to motivate each other. If you have a family, you can even involve the whole family. Or, if you live alone, perhaps a close friend will help you. It makes it much easier if you know you have someone to who you can talk and to know that he or she is going through the same thing as you are.
Only buy foods that have to be prepared
If you only buy foods that have to be prepared, it will make it very difficult for you to overeat if you have to take the time to prepare your food every time you want to eat something. This will prevent you from going to the fridge and eating different foods until you finally find the food that satisfies you. If you have to prepare your food, you won’t be able to sample a bunch of different foods. You should also only cook enough food for yourself and the person with whom you are eating. This will prevent you from going back for seconds , or even thirds! If you want to eat more, you will have to prepare it again. See also: How to cook healthier meals
Don’t buy foods you know will cause you to overeat
If you don’t have a certain item in the house, you won’t be tempted eat it. Unless, of course, you want it so bad, you convince yourself to go out to the store to buy it. But, in most situations, you can avoid eating the foods you know will cause problems if you don’t have them available. So, avoid buying foods that are high in calories, such as ice cream, chips or candy. You should make a grocery list, and buy only the foods that are on the list. Or, you can bring only enough money with you to buy the foods you need. See also Top 10 Worst foods
Many people who overeat don’t take the time to properly chew their food. They probably are even eating so fast that they don’t really get to enjoy their food either. By slowing down when you are eating, chewing your food properly, and swallowing that food before taking another bite, you will enjoy your food more, and you may decide you are satisfied before eating more. When you eat too fast, you may eat too much before your body is able to tell you that it doesn’t want any more food. Another tip is to put your fork down in-between bites.
Write down what you eat
Sometimes it helps to see it on paper. You don’t always realize how much you are eating. If you make a habit of writing everything, even if it is 3 bites of something, down, you will see how much you are actually eating. It may even help to write down the nutrition information to see how many calories you are eating. Some people may regularly consume more than 1000 extra calories a day, or more. It may even make you think before you eat something because you may be embarrassed to write a particular item down.
These are just some of the things you can do to stop overeating. It may also help if you have a goal such as weight loss, or a certain calorie goal. That way you will have something that is attainable, and once you reach your goal, you can reward yourself with something that you really want, as long as it isn’t food. Eventually, your body will learn these new behaviors; and you will gradually start to overeat less and less. Before long, you won’t associate food with boredom, loneliness or anxiety.
References used in this article