Whether you call it “overeating” or “binge eating,” you may be familiar with the experience of eating to the point of physical discomfort. It’s important to realize, however, that “overeating” and “binge eating” are different. Unlike “overeating,” binge eating is a diagnosable eating disorder with specific criteria that involve behaviors known to isolate and harm an individual’s wellbeing. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on “overeating,” which is hard to define since any person’s definition of “overeating” may differ drastically from another’s.
Eating past fullness can result from a variety of reasons, and before we discuss how to stop “overeating,” we should first identify why you’re “overeating.”
Intentional Food Restrictions
If coming from a background of low-calorie dieting, then the feeling of “overeating” is your body’s normal biological response as it adjusts to eating an amount of food that it needs for physical and metabolic functioning. “Overeating” can also result from restrictive food rules. If you swear off pizza because you think it’s “bad” or unhealthy, then you’re bound to overeat. This psychological restriction is powerful enough to drive your “overeating.”
Unintentional Food Restrictions
Life happens and we all run into instances when our schedule doesn’t lend for planning ahead. Say for example your rehearsal lasts longer than expected. You may not have planned snacks and thus are likely to “overeat” at your next meal. We may also “overeat” simply because we’re enjoying our food. With the holidays coming up, you’re likely to eat foods that don’t come around often.
Realize that your tendency to “overeat” is a natural response to food restrictions, whether intentional or unintentional. To stop “overeating,” let’s discuss my 3 top tips for initiating behavioral change.
#1: It’s Not About Self-Control… It’s About Self-Care!
Diet culture makes us believe that we’re weak if we “overeat.” We’re taught that “overeating” is just a lack of “willpower.” However, willpower is a temporary form of control that is bound to fail. If you’re drenched in food rules and believe that certain foods are “bad,” then you’ll want to break those food rules. If you’re under-fueling, then prioritize a balanced meal plan. A licensed dietitian can help you create a plan that consists of multiple meals and snacks spaced throughout your classes and rehearsals.
#2: Get Empowered
If you feel physical discomfort from “overeating” and you’ve identified a potential cause, then consider your feelings a sign for change. This does not mean that come tomorrow, you’re “starting over.” It also doesn’t mean that you have to make up for those extra calories with an additional workout. This mindset will only set you vulnerable to that dreaded cycle of “undereating” and “overeating.” Instead, focus on your balanced meal plan, stay hydrated, and keep to your normal routine.
#3: Reflect and Move On
Understanding why you’re “overeating” is the first step to stopping the behavior. Remember, however, that one instance will never make or break your health and if you find yourself “overeating,” then don’t feel upset. Rather, reflect on the experience, outline a plan (maybe this means stocking a few extra snacks in your bag!), and if needed, seek a professional for more help.