There are so many reasons why we eat and unfortunately, in this country, so few of them have to do with hunger. That’s where overeating comes in–we refuse to listen to the subtle signals our body is sending and we end up overweight and feeling guilty for our overindulgence. A Pew Survey found that six in ten Americans say they eat more than they should, either often (17 percent) or sometimes (42 percent). Americans are particularly vulnerable to junk food, 19 percent claim to eat it often.
So how do you stop? It’s physical and it’s emotional but most of all, it’s about planning ahead and setting some ground rules.
1. Face your anxiety.
Most often, overeating happens because we feel stressed and we want something to ground us. The best way to stop emotional eating is to stop feeling anxious. Start by taking an aerial view of your anxiety. What sets it off? Is it excessive work? Not getting enough sleep? Not treating your body well by drinking too much, eating poorly, or not exercising? Pinpoint the reasons behind your anxiety and realize the side effects that they are having on your life. If you feel anxiety coming on, deal with the root of the problem rather than turning to food.
2. Buy whole foods.
Junk foods and overly processed foods are easy to overeat or constantly snack on, so instead, have only foods that need to be cooked or prepared on hand. Snack on fruits and vegetables and keep the house full of legumes, rice, quinoa, and other whole foods.
3. Don’t eat past a certain hour.
We tend to overeat out of boredom at night so it’s best to limit intake during this vulnerable time. Especially because the liver digests food late at night, so overeating can mean bothered sleep. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed and go to bed just a bit hungry.
4. Watch the booze.
“Drunk eaters,” as they’re called, tend to control every bite that they eat during the day so that the minute they have a drink they tend to overeat or they wait until after they’ve had a few and binge eat. This leaves you feeling guilty the next day. Don’t ever drink on an empty stomach and watch your alcohol intake.
5. Try yoga.
If you want to learn to be mindful of the foods you’re eating, try yoga. By focusing on your breathing and the present moment you learn to eat until satiated, instead of overeating.
6. Stop overexercising.
You’ll tend to feel completely famished if you overexercise. While it’s good to know that your metabolism is going at full speed, that empty hole of hunger means that you may still eat more than you burned off. It’s much easier to keep a steady weight by watching what you eat rather than exercising too much.