You may overeat for a variety of reasons. When eating out at a restaurant or at an event where there’s lots of food, it may be difficult for you to guess at proper portion sizes. When the food is in front of you and it looks so delicious, you just want to eat all of it!
You may also overeat for emotional reasons. Filling up on food can be comforting in times of stress, sadness, or despair. It can provide you with a sense of fullness when your heart is feeling empty. Food can also act as a means to pass the time when you’re feeling bored.
If this is you, know that you’re not alone. I struggled with overeating and emotional eating for a large portion of my life. I would overeat at restaurants, family gatherings, or graduation parties just because the food tasted so good and I didn’t want to stop. I would also overeat when I was sad, stressed or bored. A whole carton of Ben & Jerry’s would soothe me after a difficult break up or one or two peanut butter, banana, and fluff sandwiches would give me something to do to pass the time at a job I didn’t enjoy.
In all instances, even when I was uncomfortably full, it was difficult to stop. Can you relate?
If you can, I want to give you three tips to help you slow down while eating so that you can avoid overeating and the uncomfortable and sometimes shameful feelings that can ensue afterwards.
TIP #1: Take a few deep breaths. Before you eat and while you eat, take a few deep and slow breathes. Deep breathing activates the relaxation response in the body, which can reduce emotional agitation, allowing you to enter and remain in the eating space in a more peaceful and present state.
TIP #2: Chew your food fully. Chewing your food completely slows down your experience of eating, which gives your taste buds and your brain time to process the food and derive satisfaction from the experience. The more satisfied you feel, the less food you need.
TIP #3: Put your fork down between bites. Similar to chewing, putting your fork down between bites will prolong your experience of eating. If you’re in an emotional state, this can give you time to realize what’s happening and to think about different solutions to solve your problem, rather than filling up on more food that your body does not need.
After you use these tips during your next meal or the next time you have the urge to eat for emotional reasons, I would love to hear how they worked for you. What did you notice? How did you feel after eating compared to other times?