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How to Break the Habit of Overeating

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Overeating can be a challenging habit to break. Whether it’s due to boredom, emotional eating, or simply not paying attention to your body’s signals, the consequences of overeating can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to cut back on overeating and develop healthier eating habits. In this article, we’ll explore some tips on how to stop overeating and why it’s important to recognize the signs of overeating.

What is Overeating?

Before we dive into the tips on how to stop overeating, let’s first define what overeating is. Overeating is when you consume more food than your body needs to fuel itself. It can be intentional or unintentional and can occur on occasion or as a pattern of behavior. The short-term symptoms of overeating may include stomach discomfort, nausea, bloating, gas, and heartburn. However, overeating can also have long-term consequences that can negatively impact your health, including unwanted weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and prolonged digestive discomfort. Overeating can also affect your cholesterol and blood sugar management, putting you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Signs of Overeating

One of the most important steps in breaking the habit of overeating is recognizing the signs that you’re overeating. These signs can be both physical and emotional. Eating beyond the point of being full, mindlessly eating due to boredom or distraction, experiencing physical symptoms after eating, and eating for reasons other than fueling your body are all signs that you may be overeating. Other long-term indications of overeating include unwanted weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and prolonged digestive discomfort. If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s time to take action to reduce your overeating behavior.

Tips to Stop Overeating

Now that we’ve defined overeating and recognized the signs, let’s explore some tips on how to break the habit of overeating.

Knowing the recommended portion sizes for different types of food is critical in avoiding overeating. Take advantage of nutrition food labels and reputable sources’ recommended amounts of foods. This helps set the baseline for what a realistic serving size looks like and helps you stay accountable for how much you should be eating. You might also try eating off of a smaller plate to avoid overfilling your plate.

2. Include Fiber in Your Diet

Fiber is helpful for satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating. Including a fiber source with meals and snacks can help reduce overeating tendencies. For instance, roasted vegetables, which contain fiber, are more likely to fill you up than several pieces of cheese with the same number of calories.

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3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Skipping meals can cause intense hunger, which can lead to episodes of overeating once you finally eat. Instead, eat healthy snacks between meals or eat smaller meals more regularly throughout the day.

4. Identify Foods That are Easiest to Overeat

Keeping a food journal can help identify which foods you struggle with the most. Most people tend to overeat calorie-dense or processed foods they view as treats, including those high in sugar, salt, and fat.

5. Stay Hydrated

Thirst cues can often be mistaken for hunger cues. Drinking water throughout the day can help you determine whether you’re actually hungry or just thirsty and reduce the likelihood of overeating.

6. Be Mindful About Why You’re Eating

Pay attention to your body’s cues for appetite and hunger and avoid eating mindlessly just to eat. Being mindful about your meals and what you’re eating can help you connect to the process of enjoying food as a way of nourishing your body.

7. Slow Down

Eating too quickly can lead to overeating since it takes time for your stomach to communicate with your brain that you’re full. Slowing down your meal and paying attention to how you actually feel is one of the best ways to avoid overeating.

8. Rethink That Second Serving

Wait 5 to 10 minutes before deciding whether you truly need to be refilling your plate or not. Make sure your additional serving is mostly healthy foods, such as vegetables.

9. Turn off Your TV

Distractions can lead to overeating, so make mealtime a distraction-free experience. Turning off your TV and sitting down at the table can help you connect to the process of nourishing your body with food.

10. Give Yourself Some Grace

Allowing yourself to have foods that you enjoy in moderation is helpful because then you’re not tempted to overindulge on them later. Giving yourself grace not only provides a little bit of wiggle room in your diet, it also helps maintain healthy eating patterns that can help reduce the chances of overeating.

Why You May be Overeating

Sometimes overeating happens on occasion, such as during holidays or special events. Other times, it becomes a pleasurable yet unhealthy habit that reinforces itself over and over. Emotional eating, where food is used to fight an emotional issue, can also be a reason for overeating. Recognizing this behavior and better processing your emotions are important steps in reducing overeating. Lastly, overeating may be a sign of binge eating disorder, which is treatable with the right help.


Breaking the habit of overeating can be challenging, but recognizing the signs and taking steps to reduce the behavior is critical for your physical and mental health. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can develop healthier eating habits and reduce the likelihood of overeating. Remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself grace as you work towards a healthier relationship with food.

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