12 Reasons You Overeat and Can't Seem to Lose Weight
Over-consuming your daily calories not only prevents weight loss and can lead to weight gain, but can cause emotional stress if it leads to feeling out of control around food. You shouldn't feel like food is the enemy. Food offers nourishment and can fuel our happiness, so if you tend to overeat, here are some reasons why so you can start changing these habits. This list may seem simple, but overcoming these issues is extremely difficult. If you need help or guidance in tackling your tendency to overeat, seek out the help of a doctor, a therapist who specializes in diet issues, or a registered dietitian.
Your Diet Is Too Restrictive
If you eat nothing but grilled chicken and veggies, that's not sustainable. You'll feel so miserably deprived that you'll crave everything you don't allow yourself to eat, which will backfire and you'll end up bingeing. Of course, that will just make you feel guilty, and you'll go back to restricting. Stop the vicious cycle with the 80/20 approach to eating: eating healthy, whole foods most of the time (about 80 percent of the time), and 20 percent indulgence foods you love.
You Eat Trigger Foods
If you know you can't just eat one home-baked cookie, one handful of potato chips, or one scoop of ice cream, then don't. Most registered dietitians wouldn't recommend cutting out a food group, but this might be the only instance where avoiding a food is helpful in preventing overeating. Neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson, PhD, believes that the notion of "everything in moderation" is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Certain people are more susceptible to food addiction, so if this sounds like you, avoiding highly-addictive foods like sugar and flour will actually eliminate your cravings for them.
You Eat on the Go
When you don't take time to sit down and eat and really enjoy your food, your brain may not register that you're satisfied so you'll end up reaching for more food. Schedule times to eat, savor each bite, and you'll be better able to listen to your body's "I'm full" cues.
Your Meals Aren't Balanced
It's important to eat the foods we crave, but if you don't eat a balanced meal, you'll end up feeling hungry an hour later, which means overeating your daily calories. NASM-certified personal trainer Sam Altieri shared this formula for creating satiating meals: protein + carbs + healthy fats. You need all three — especially the healthy fats — to feel satiated for hours.
You Eat When You're Distracted
Eating on your lunch break in front of your computer or while watching TV at night is one of the most common reasons for overeating. You're not only not paying attention to how much you're eating, but you also tend to eat quickly, so your brain doesn't have time to register when it's full before you're overly stuffed. Lose the distractions, even if it's just for the first five minutes of your meal.
Your Kitchen Is Stocked With Trigger Foods
If you keep chocolate, chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy in your house, it's much harder to say no when you know they're there. Clean out your fridge and pantry and don't buy the foods you tend to overeat. Out of sight, out of mind.
You Wait Too Long to Eat
If too much time passes between meals, your famished feelings will take over and you'll end up eating faster and a larger amount of food than you would if you weren't starving. Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition don't advise ignoring hunger. If you know you'll be home late for dinner, grab a quick snack to hold you over — it'll actually help you consume fewer daily calories.
You Eat Too Fast
Inhaling your food too quickly will make you consume way more calories than you need, and will leave you feeling unsatisfied. Leslie Langevin, MS, RD, CD, of Whole Health Nutrition suggests taking a 10-minute break halfway through your meal to assess whether you should continue eating more or be done. If you find that you're full, don't push the plate away and keep talking with your lunch date or go back to working on your computer. If the food is there, you'll feel too tempted to start picking at it. Wrap it up and put it in the fridge for later or share it with someone else.
You Eat Off a Huge Plate
Our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs, so if you divvy up an enormous portion on a huge plate, you're more likely to want to eat every last bite, even if you're not hungry. Switch to smaller plates and bowls so your portions are smaller; you'll feel satisfied but not stuffed.
You Eat Your Emotions
If you turn toward food when you're stressed, upset, or even happy, these powerful emotions can make you feel out of control and cause you to eat foods you normally wouldn't in amounts that are much larger. Find ways to cope with your emotions without food. If you find that you're an emotional eater, try this powerful trick.
You're Not Busy Enough
Having time during your day to relax is very important. But if you have too much free time on your hands, you're not busy or challenged in some way with a sense of purpose, your mind will move to food. Find ways throughout your day to keep your mind occupied so you don't graze all day long.
You Don't Listen to Your Body
Eating when you're actually hungry is one of the most important factors when it comes to preventing overeating. If you're not hungry but you eat just because it's noon, or because your boyfriend is eating, or because a co-worker brought in cupcakes, than you're not honoring your own body's hunger cues.
Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition recommend using the hunger scale to gauge when you should eat and when you should stop. Check in with yourself before, during, and after you eat. Ask yourself, "Am I really hungry?" If the answer is no, stop eating.