When Your Eating Is Out of Control

Reviewed Jan 3, 2017

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Summary

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Record what you eat.
  • Note circumstances related to overeating.

Name your weakness—is it cookies or chips? Perhaps it’s something more redeeming such as pasta or mashed potatoes. Whatever it may be, if you just can’t seem to stop eating it, even when you are full, it could be making you miserable—and not just from the discomfort in your belly. Out of-control eating can make you feel, well, out of control. This can cause you to feel anxious and depressed, wreaking havoc on your self-esteem. Ultimately, overeating can cause obesity, which carries with it several health risks.

But what if you just can’t stop? First, talk to your doctor about your concerns. He can help you determine whether your overeating is described as:

  • Binge-eating disorder: a history of weekly episodes of overeating to the point of discomfort, which you cannot voluntarily control
  • Emotional eating: eating when you are not hungry to compensate for feelings such as sadness, anger, anxiety, boredom, etc.
  • Poor eating habits and nutrition, in general

Since the causes vary, so might the treatment. You and your doctor must work together to determine if medical attention is warranted. You can, however, help yourself as well. Read on for tips that might improve your eating habits.

Pay attention

Dr. Joyce Nash, clinical psychologist and author of Binge No More, advises you to record your eating habits for a few weeks to help you learn what triggers binges. Try to note what thoughts, emotions, and circumstances you experience just before overeating. Be aware of:

  • When you eat—Are you skipping meals all day and then overeating at dinner? Eat three balanced meals and two healthy snacks throughout the day to regulate your appetite.
  • Why you eat—Are you bored? Are you really hungry? Try to eat only when you are hungry—if you’re tempted to reach for food outside of your regular schedule, drink a glass of water, and wait 10 minutes to see if the craving passes.
  • How you eat—Are you eating very quickly, or while watching TV? Slow down, turn the TV off, and enjoy your regular meals.
  • What you eat—What foods do you binge on? Plan nutritious meals and snacks, but don’t deny yourself treats on occasion or you might find yourself bingeing on the food you’re trying to avoid.
  • Where you eat—Are you more likely to overeat at a restaurant? Ask if they provide smaller portions, or plan ahead to save half of your meal for a to-go box. Avoid buffets if they sabotage your hard work.

More tips

You might find that recording what you eat gives you a new awareness and motivation to eat better, but here are a few more helpful suggestions:

  • Eat healthy fats. Your body needs and craves fat. Try snacking on a handful of nuts and see if that curbs your cravings.
  • Fill up on fiber. High-fiber foods such as beans, whole grains, and brown rice are not only filling, but also great for your health.
  • Distract yourself. Take a brisk walk, work on a hobby, do something you enjoy to counteract emotions that usually send you to the kitchen.
  • Exercise. Working out before a meal can reduce your appetite.

All about portions

As you attend to what you eat, why you eat, and so on, you may realize that it’s how much you eat that really bothers you. Be careful with this one. Obsessing on the exact amount of every morsel you eat might free you from overeating, but it robs you of joy. Worse, it might backfire and worsen your compulsion to binge. Try, instead, to make some subtle changes in your portion habits, without going overboard and measuring every bite. You can:

  • Use a smaller plate at lunch and dinner such as a salad plate.
  • Pour out a serving of chips on a saucer rather than eating from the bag.
  • Serve yourself ice cream in a teacup rather than a bowl.

Be kind to yourself as you strive to get your eating under control. It’s realistic to expect setbacks. Understand that eating habits take time to form. Expect that changes will also take time.

Resource

Overeaters Anonymous
www.oa.org
By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Overeaters Anonymous; Paige Bierma "Binge Eating Disorder." BluePrint for Health www.blueprintforhealth.net; Linda Page, PhD "Help for Overeating"; Joyce Nash, PhD (2001) "Simple Ways to Stop Uncontrolled Eating" Bottom Line Health, (15): 5-6; Binge No More by Joyce Nash, PhD. New Harbinger Publications, 1999; Emotional Eating by Edward Abramson. Jossey-Bass Inc. 1998.
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Record what you eat.
  • Note circumstances related to overeating.

Name your weakness—is it cookies or chips? Perhaps it’s something more redeeming such as pasta or mashed potatoes. Whatever it may be, if you just can’t seem to stop eating it, even when you are full, it could be making you miserable—and not just from the discomfort in your belly. Out of-control eating can make you feel, well, out of control. This can cause you to feel anxious and depressed, wreaking havoc on your self-esteem. Ultimately, overeating can cause obesity, which carries with it several health risks.

But what if you just can’t stop? First, talk to your doctor about your concerns. He can help you determine whether your overeating is described as:

  • Binge-eating disorder: a history of weekly episodes of overeating to the point of discomfort, which you cannot voluntarily control
  • Emotional eating: eating when you are not hungry to compensate for feelings such as sadness, anger, anxiety, boredom, etc.
  • Poor eating habits and nutrition, in general

Since the causes vary, so might the treatment. You and your doctor must work together to determine if medical attention is warranted. You can, however, help yourself as well. Read on for tips that might improve your eating habits.

Pay attention

Dr. Joyce Nash, clinical psychologist and author of Binge No More, advises you to record your eating habits for a few weeks to help you learn what triggers binges. Try to note what thoughts, emotions, and circumstances you experience just before overeating. Be aware of:

  • When you eat—Are you skipping meals all day and then overeating at dinner? Eat three balanced meals and two healthy snacks throughout the day to regulate your appetite.
  • Why you eat—Are you bored? Are you really hungry? Try to eat only when you are hungry—if you’re tempted to reach for food outside of your regular schedule, drink a glass of water, and wait 10 minutes to see if the craving passes.
  • How you eat—Are you eating very quickly, or while watching TV? Slow down, turn the TV off, and enjoy your regular meals.
  • What you eat—What foods do you binge on? Plan nutritious meals and snacks, but don’t deny yourself treats on occasion or you might find yourself bingeing on the food you’re trying to avoid.
  • Where you eat—Are you more likely to overeat at a restaurant? Ask if they provide smaller portions, or plan ahead to save half of your meal for a to-go box. Avoid buffets if they sabotage your hard work.

More tips

You might find that recording what you eat gives you a new awareness and motivation to eat better, but here are a few more helpful suggestions:

  • Eat healthy fats. Your body needs and craves fat. Try snacking on a handful of nuts and see if that curbs your cravings.
  • Fill up on fiber. High-fiber foods such as beans, whole grains, and brown rice are not only filling, but also great for your health.
  • Distract yourself. Take a brisk walk, work on a hobby, do something you enjoy to counteract emotions that usually send you to the kitchen.
  • Exercise. Working out before a meal can reduce your appetite.

All about portions

As you attend to what you eat, why you eat, and so on, you may realize that it’s how much you eat that really bothers you. Be careful with this one. Obsessing on the exact amount of every morsel you eat might free you from overeating, but it robs you of joy. Worse, it might backfire and worsen your compulsion to binge. Try, instead, to make some subtle changes in your portion habits, without going overboard and measuring every bite. You can:

  • Use a smaller plate at lunch and dinner such as a salad plate.
  • Pour out a serving of chips on a saucer rather than eating from the bag.
  • Serve yourself ice cream in a teacup rather than a bowl.

Be kind to yourself as you strive to get your eating under control. It’s realistic to expect setbacks. Understand that eating habits take time to form. Expect that changes will also take time.

Resource

Overeaters Anonymous
www.oa.org
By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Overeaters Anonymous; Paige Bierma "Binge Eating Disorder." BluePrint for Health www.blueprintforhealth.net; Linda Page, PhD "Help for Overeating"; Joyce Nash, PhD (2001) "Simple Ways to Stop Uncontrolled Eating" Bottom Line Health, (15): 5-6; Binge No More by Joyce Nash, PhD. New Harbinger Publications, 1999; Emotional Eating by Edward Abramson. Jossey-Bass Inc. 1998.
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Record what you eat.
  • Note circumstances related to overeating.

Name your weakness—is it cookies or chips? Perhaps it’s something more redeeming such as pasta or mashed potatoes. Whatever it may be, if you just can’t seem to stop eating it, even when you are full, it could be making you miserable—and not just from the discomfort in your belly. Out of-control eating can make you feel, well, out of control. This can cause you to feel anxious and depressed, wreaking havoc on your self-esteem. Ultimately, overeating can cause obesity, which carries with it several health risks.

But what if you just can’t stop? First, talk to your doctor about your concerns. He can help you determine whether your overeating is described as:

  • Binge-eating disorder: a history of weekly episodes of overeating to the point of discomfort, which you cannot voluntarily control
  • Emotional eating: eating when you are not hungry to compensate for feelings such as sadness, anger, anxiety, boredom, etc.
  • Poor eating habits and nutrition, in general

Since the causes vary, so might the treatment. You and your doctor must work together to determine if medical attention is warranted. You can, however, help yourself as well. Read on for tips that might improve your eating habits.

Pay attention

Dr. Joyce Nash, clinical psychologist and author of Binge No More, advises you to record your eating habits for a few weeks to help you learn what triggers binges. Try to note what thoughts, emotions, and circumstances you experience just before overeating. Be aware of:

  • When you eat—Are you skipping meals all day and then overeating at dinner? Eat three balanced meals and two healthy snacks throughout the day to regulate your appetite.
  • Why you eat—Are you bored? Are you really hungry? Try to eat only when you are hungry—if you’re tempted to reach for food outside of your regular schedule, drink a glass of water, and wait 10 minutes to see if the craving passes.
  • How you eat—Are you eating very quickly, or while watching TV? Slow down, turn the TV off, and enjoy your regular meals.
  • What you eat—What foods do you binge on? Plan nutritious meals and snacks, but don’t deny yourself treats on occasion or you might find yourself bingeing on the food you’re trying to avoid.
  • Where you eat—Are you more likely to overeat at a restaurant? Ask if they provide smaller portions, or plan ahead to save half of your meal for a to-go box. Avoid buffets if they sabotage your hard work.

More tips

You might find that recording what you eat gives you a new awareness and motivation to eat better, but here are a few more helpful suggestions:

  • Eat healthy fats. Your body needs and craves fat. Try snacking on a handful of nuts and see if that curbs your cravings.
  • Fill up on fiber. High-fiber foods such as beans, whole grains, and brown rice are not only filling, but also great for your health.
  • Distract yourself. Take a brisk walk, work on a hobby, do something you enjoy to counteract emotions that usually send you to the kitchen.
  • Exercise. Working out before a meal can reduce your appetite.

All about portions

As you attend to what you eat, why you eat, and so on, you may realize that it’s how much you eat that really bothers you. Be careful with this one. Obsessing on the exact amount of every morsel you eat might free you from overeating, but it robs you of joy. Worse, it might backfire and worsen your compulsion to binge. Try, instead, to make some subtle changes in your portion habits, without going overboard and measuring every bite. You can:

  • Use a smaller plate at lunch and dinner such as a salad plate.
  • Pour out a serving of chips on a saucer rather than eating from the bag.
  • Serve yourself ice cream in a teacup rather than a bowl.

Be kind to yourself as you strive to get your eating under control. It’s realistic to expect setbacks. Understand that eating habits take time to form. Expect that changes will also take time.

Resource

Overeaters Anonymous
www.oa.org
By Laurie M. Stewart
Source: Overeaters Anonymous; Paige Bierma "Binge Eating Disorder." BluePrint for Health www.blueprintforhealth.net; Linda Page, PhD "Help for Overeating"; Joyce Nash, PhD (2001) "Simple Ways to Stop Uncontrolled Eating" Bottom Line Health, (15): 5-6; Binge No More by Joyce Nash, PhD. New Harbinger Publications, 1999; Emotional Eating by Edward Abramson. Jossey-Bass Inc. 1998.
Reviewed by Maria F. Rodowski-Stanco, MD, Associate Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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