Overeating can be deceptive. We often don’t realize it’s happening until the damage has been done, so to speak. So here’s some reasons you’re overeating and how to combat it.

The twenty minute rule

Our “fullness” alert does not register until about twenty minutes into a meal. Twenty minutes?! Most of us are not only done with our meal in twenty minutes, but we’ve had a second helping and dessert too. It’s only then that we feel full. And, oftentimes, stuffed.


As a dietitian, I’ve worked with many clients who struggled with overeating.

They nailed it in many other areas of life – but just couldn’t seem to get a handle on eating too much.

While each client is unique – their overeating stemmed from common sources. With just a few tweaks in their daily habits, they were able to stop overeating and move forward with their weight management goals.

Here are three reasons that may be causing you to overeat and tips for how to stop:

You’re on the ‘Diet of the Month’

Diets don’t work because you end up overeating to compensate for the deprivation you’ve endured during your diet.

Whether you’ve given up all carbs or you’re eating packaged food – sooner or later you cave.

Either your “cheat meal” becomes a 3-day junk-food bender or you inhale every carb in sight. You want food. You’re over the “diet” and are going to indulge in every restricted food you’ve banned for the past few weeks.

How to stop: Stop dieting

Get off that bandwagon and on to a healthy lifestyle wagon. Sure, there are some foods you’re going to cut out of your diet – not because you have to, but because they are just junk.

Let me tell you, Honey Buns aren’t a positive note to anyone’s diet. They’re junk food and only serve one purpose – to take up space on the convenience store shelf.

Treat your body well and feed it nourishing food in moderation.

Make small, realistic changes that allow you to incorporate into your lifestyle rather than overhauling your whole life in an unsustainable, depriving way. That’s the best diet you can be on and, it won’t leave you looking for a rebound date overeating candy, chips and cookies

reasons you're overeating_2

You are following the pyramid

No, not the old-school Food Guide Pyramid. This is one of the most classic diet-mentality eating patterns I see with clients: Save your calories during the day so you have calories to spend in the evening when you’re hungry.

Little to no breakfast; Scant lunch; And then, watch out, it’s a free-for-all after 4:00 pm.

Your willpower wanes during the day as you deal with work, family, errands. At the end of the day, your willpower is wiped, but your appetite is ravenous!

You can’t have a rational conversation with yourself about choosing healthy foods in the evening when you’re overly hungry. The only option to meet your energy needs is to overeat.

You load up on dinner. Then an evening snack. Then a late-night snack.

You hit the sack and wake up in the morning too stuffed to even think about breakfast. And so the cycle begins again.

How to stop: Break the cycle

Front-load your calories. As Michael Pollan (and my mom) say: Breakfast like a King (Queen). Lunch like a Prince (Princess). Dinner like a Pauper.

No matter how much you overate the night before, start the day anew with a healthy, hearty breakfast such as oatmeal topped with dried fruit and nuts or a veggie-loaded omelet with a side of fruit.

Gradually whittle down your portions with successive meals. This little “reverse pyramid” is very helpful to stop overeating in the evening.

You don’t power down

It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating.

If your attention is directed at the tv, your phone, or your computer – you’re not focused on your meal or snack. You’re also not focused on your perception of fullness or satisfaction.

This is a perfect set-up for overeating. All of your internal cues to put down the fork are overridden by external cues stealing your attention. All the sudden, the bag of chips or dish of candy is gone – and you don’t remember enjoying a single bite!

How to stop: Pay attention to your eating

Take part in the meal – check in with how much food you’ve eaten and how satisfied or full you are. Take a pause and make sure you are still hungry enough to keep eating if there is food on the plate (remember the twenty minutes you need to register satiety?).

If you know you have to work through a meal, then only dish out an appropriate amount of food to prevent overeating.

Focusing on the task at hand – eating – forces you to slow down and enjoy the meal or snack, rather than blindly plowing through the “grub” at your disposal.

Wrecking ball to your diet

Overeating can be the wrecking ball to your weight management efforts.

Don’t let it wreck you! Now that you know some of the more common reasons for overeating, you can take steps to confidently stop!

Connect with Expert Tiffany Ricci Reasons You Are Overeating

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Lost 13 Kg in Total
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