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How to stop overeating

23 simple things you can do to stop overeating

Although breaking the cycle of overeating can be challenging, there are ways to overcome it. Here are 23 ways to stop overeating.

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How to stop overeating: 23 simple tips
Last updated on October 26, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on January 30, 2023.

Eating too much in one sitting or taking in too many calories throughout the day are common habits that can be hard to break.

How to stop overeating: 23 simple tips

And while some people see these behaviors as habits that can be broken, they may indicate an eating disorder in others.

Over time, eating too much food can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.

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Whether you have an eating disorder, breaking the cycle of overeating can be challenging. However, some techniques can help.

The 23 tips below provide a starting point to reduce overeating.

1. Get rid of distractions

Whether working through lunch in front of the computer or noshing on chips while catching up on your favorite TV show, eating while distracted is common for most people.

While this habit might seem harmless, it can contribute to overeating.

A review of 24 studies found that being distracted during a meal led people to consume more calories at that meal. It also caused them to eat more food later in the day, compared with people who paid attention to their food while eating.

Summary: Make an effort to turn off or eliminate potential distractions like phones, computers, and magazines. Concentrating on your meal during mealtime can help prevent overeating.

2. Know your trigger foods

Pinpointing which foods can trigger overeating and avoiding them can help decrease the chances of overeating.

For example, if ice cream is likely to trigger a binge or episode of overeating, it’s a good idea to stop storing it in the freezer. The harder it is to access something, the less likely you might be to overeat that food.

Preparing healthy options like a sliced apple with peanut butter, hummus, veggies, or homemade trail mix can encourage better snacking choices.

Another helpful tip is to keep unhealthy snack foods like chips, candy, and cookies out of sight, so there’s no temptation to grab a handful when walking past them.

Summary: Identify the unhealthy foods that trigger overeating. Keep them out of the home or out of sight, and make healthy options easily accessible instead.

3. Don’t ban all favorite foods

Restrictive eating patterns that eliminate many of your favorite foods may cause you to feel deprived, potentially leading you to binge on forbidden treats.

Diets that concentrate on whole, unprocessed foods are always best, but making room for an occasional treat is perfectly healthy.

Swearing never to have a scoop of ice cream, a pizza, or a piece of chocolate again is unrealistic for most people.

15 helpful tips to overcome binge eating
Suggested read: 15 helpful tips to overcome binge eating

That said, in the case of food addiction, a person may need to abstain from trigger foods permanently. In this case, it’s a good idea to find healthy substitutes that are satisfying.

Focus on providing your body with mostly healthy, nutritious food while giving yourself the freedom to enjoy a treat here and there truly.

Summary: Eating patterns that are too restrictive may drive binges. The key to a sustainable, healthy diet is to concentrate on eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time while allowing for a treat here and there.

4. Give volumetrics a try

Volumetrics is a way to eat that focuses on filling up on low-calorie, high-fiber foods like non-starchy vegetables.

Consuming foods that are low in calories and high in fiber and water before meals can help you feel full, which might decrease overeating.

Volumetrics-friendly foods include grapefruit, salad greens, broccoli, beans, tomatoes, and low-sodium broth.

Eating a large salad or bowl of low-sodium, broth-based soup before lunch and dinner may effectively prevent overeating.

Summary: Use the volumetrics method of eating — fill up on healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber foods to help promote feeling full.

5. Avoid eating from containers

Eating chips out of the bag, ice cream out of the carton, or takeout straight from the box can lead to consuming more food than is recommended as a serving size.

Instead, portion out a single serving size on a plate or in a bowl to help control the calories you consume in one sitting.

Use measuring tools to train your eye on what a normal portion should look like for different types of foods.

Summary: Instead of eating food straight from the package, portion it into a dish. Try measuring appropriate serving sizes to help train your eye to identify how much food is recommended as an average portion.

6. Reduce stress

Stress can lead to overeating, so it’s important to find ways to reduce stress in your daily life.

Suggested read: 13 ways to stop eating when you’re bored

Chronic stress drives up levels of cortisol, a hormone that increases appetite. Studies have shown that stress can lead to overeating, increased hunger, binge eating, and weight gain.

There are many simple ways to reduce your everyday stress levels. Consider listening to music, gardening, exercising, or practicing yoga, meditation, or breathing techniques.

Summary: Stress can lead to overeating, so reducing the stress in your everyday life is one important step to reducing overeating.

7. Eat fiber-rich foods

Choosing foods rich in fiber, such as beans, vegetables, oats, and fruit, can help keep your body satisfied and reduce the urge to overeat.

For example, one study found that people who ate fiber-rich oatmeal for breakfast felt fuller and ate less at lunch than those who consumed cornflakes.

Snacking on nuts, adding beans to your salad, and eating vegetables at every meal may help reduce the amount of food you consume.

Summary: Add fiber-rich foods to your diet to keep your body feeling satisfied longer. Studies show this may help reduce the urge to overeat.

8. Eat regular meals

When attempting to lose weight, many people cut out meals in hopes that it will decrease the number of calories they take in.

While this may work in some instances, such as intermittent fasting, restricting meals may cause you to eat more later in the day.

Studies have demonstrated that eating more frequently throughout the day may decrease hunger and overall food intake.

For example, some people may skip lunch to restrict calories, only to overeat at dinner. However, eating a balanced lunch may help reduce the chances of eating too much later in the day.

Summary: Skipping meals may cause you to eat more later in the day. Instead, focus on keeping your body feeling satisfied by eating balanced meals made with whole foods.

9. Keep a food journal

Keeping track of what you eat in a food diary or mobile app may help reduce overeating.

Many studies have shown that self-monitoring techniques like keeping a food diary may aid weight loss.

Plus, using a food journal can help identify situations and emotional triggers that contribute to overeating and foods that are likely to provoke binge eating.

Summary: Studies have shown that tracking your food intake may help you lose weight. It will also help you become more aware of your habits.

10. Dine with like-minded friends

The food choices of your dining companions may have a greater effect on your food intake than you realize.

Suggested read: The 17 best ways to maintain weight loss

Numerous studies have found that people’s food choices are heavily influenced by the people they eat with.

People may tend to eat portions similar to those of their dining companions, so dining out with friends who overeat may cause them to overeat.

Studies have shown that a person is more inclined to order unhealthy options if their dining partner does.

Eating with family and friends with similar health goals can help you stay on track and reduce your chances of overeating.

Summary: With whom you eat may majorly impact your food choices. Try to dine with people who also want to eat healthy meals in moderate portions.

11. Fill up on protein

Protein helps keep your body full throughout the day and can decrease the desire to overeat.

For example, eating a high-protein breakfast has been shown to reduce hunger and snacking later in the day.

Choosing a protein-rich breakfast like eggs tends to lower ghrelin levels, a hormone that stimulates hunger.

Adding higher protein snacks like Greek yogurt to your routine can also help you eat less throughout the day and keep hunger under control.

Summary: Eating protein-rich foods may help stave off hunger and cravings. Starting the day with a high-protein breakfast can also help fight hunger later in the day.

12. Stabilize your blood sugar levels

Eating white bread, cookies, candy, and other carbs with high glycemic indexes will likely cause blood sugar levels to spike, then fall quickly.

This rapid blood sugar fluctuation has been shown to promote hunger and can lead to overeating.

Choosing foods with lower glycemic indexes will help prevent blood sugar spikes and may reduce overeating. Beans, oats, and brown rice are all great options.

Summary: Eat foods that help keep blood sugar levels constant. High-glycemic foods like candy and white bread can spike blood sugar and drop, which may lead to overeating. Instead, choose foods like beans, oats, and brown rice.

13. Slow down

Eating too quickly may cause overeating and lead to weight gain over time.

Slower-paced eating is associated with increased fullness and decreased hunger and can be useful for controlling overeating.

Taking the time to chew food thoroughly has also been shown to reduce overall food intake and increase feelings of fullness.

Summary: Focusing on eating more slowly and chewing food thoroughly may help you recognize signs of fullness and reduce overeating.

14. Watch your alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol may cause overeating by lowering your inhibitions and stimulating your appetite.

While having a drink or two with a meal generally won’t have a huge effect, having several drinks in one sitting may lead to increased hunger.

One study found that college students who drank four to five drinks at a time more than once per week were likelier to overeat after drinking than those who drank one to two drinks at a time.

Cutting back on drinking alcohol may be a good way to minimize overeating.

Suggested read: Top 23 weight loss tips for women

Summary: Studies show that drinking several drinks in one sitting may lead to overeating. Instead, stick to just one or two drinks, or forgo drinking alcohol entirely.

15. Plan ahead

Being unprepared when hunger strikes can make you more likely to make poor food choices that can lead to overeating.

Purchasing meals and snacks at the last minute from restaurants or delis increases the likelihood of making unhealthy choices and eating more.

Instead, keep healthy snacks on hand, pack home-cooked lunches, and stock the fridge with healthy options to prepare dinner at home.

These strategies can help decrease overeating. Plus, making more meals at home can save money and time.

Summary: The more prepared you are to eat healthily, the less likely you are to overeat. Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with healthy, filling foods.

16. Replace sugary beverages with water

Drinking sugary beverages like soda and juice could increase weight gain and the risk of certain diseases like diabetes.

Studies have shown that consuming sweetened drinks with meals may also be linked to overeating.

A review of 17 studies found that adults who drank sugar-sweetened beverages with meals consumed 7.8% more food than adults who consumed water with meals.

Choosing water or unsweetened seltzer over sweetened beverages may help reduce overeating.

Summary: Avoid sugary beverages. They’ve been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and other diseases and may be linked to overeating. Drink water instead.

17. Check in with yourself

Overeating without hunger could be a sign that something deeper is going on.

Depression and boredom are two common issues linked to the urge to overeat.

Fortunately, taking certain actions can help. For example, try taking on an enjoyable new activity. It may help prevent boredom and distract from the urge to nibble.

Also, thinking about what triggers overeating can help determine the type of help to seek. If depression and anxiety are contributors, getting proper treatment from a mental health professional might assist with reducing overeating.

Everyone is different, so finding the right treatment plan for your needs is important.

Summary: Think about the feelings during episodes of overeating and seek help to address the issues behind the behavior. Depression and boredom are two common reasons. A mental health professional can provide guidance.

18. Ditch the diet mentality

Fad diets probably won’t help you stop overeating in the long run. Short-term, restrictive diets may lead to rapid weight loss but are often unsustainable and can set you up for failure.

Instead, make long-term lifestyle changes that promote health and wellness. It’s the best way to create a balanced relationship with food and prevent habits like overeating.

Summary: Instead of going on fad diets to curb overeating, find a sustainable way of eating that nourishes your body and helps it reach optimal health.

19. Break old habits

Habits can be hard to break, especially when they involve food.

Many people get into comfortable routines, like eating dinner in front of the TV or having a bowl of ice cream every night.

Identifying unhealthy behaviors that lead to overeating may take time, and replacing them with new, healthy habits is well worth the effort.

For example, make it a point to eat at the dinner table instead of in front of the TV or replace a nightly bowl of ice cream with a hot cup of tea. These replacements will become healthy habits over time.

Summary: Identify unhealthy habits and gradually replace them with new, more positive behaviors.

20. Eat healthy fats

Although high-fat foods are often associated with weight gain and overeating, choosing foods rich in healthy fats can help you eat less.

Several studies have shown that adults who consume high-fat, low-carb diets are less hungry 3–4 hours after meals and lose more weight over time, compared with people who consume diets high in carbs and low in fat.

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Suggested read: The 25 best diet tips to lose weight and improve health

Adding healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, and olive oil to your diet may help you feel more satisfied after meals and reduce overeating.

Summary: Try adding more healthy fats to your diet. Studies have shown doing so may help you feel fuller after meals and lose weight over time.

21. Keep your goals in mind

Setting short- and long-term goals and referring to them often may help you stay on track and reduce the urge to overeat.

Knowing the reason for overcoming overeating and how overeating is preventing you from reaching your health and wellness goals can motivate you to work toward establishing new eating patterns.

Jotting down motivational quotes and hanging them in prominent places around your living space can help inspire you to stick to a plan throughout the day.

Summary: Identify specific short- and long-term eating goals and refer to them often. It can even be helpful to place motivational quotes around your home.

22. Get help if needed

It’s important to distinguish overeating from binge eating disorder (BED).

Binge eating disorder (BED) is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a psychiatric disorder. This means someone with a binge eating disorder will likely need treatment from a team of medical professionals to overcome it.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by ongoing episodes of eating a large amount of food very quickly to the point of discomfort, despite not being hungry. After a binge, a person might feel shame or guilt surrounding the behavior.

It affects millions worldwide and is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

If you feel you might have a binge eating disorder, getting help is important. Speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options.

Summary: If you regularly binge on large quantities of food, lack control, and experience feelings of guilt, you may have a binge eating disorder and should seek professional help.

23. Practice mindful eating

Adopting mindful eating techniques is one of the best ways to prevent overeating.

The practice of mindful eating stresses the importance of focusing on the moment and being aware of thoughts, emotions, and senses while consuming food.

Many studies have shown that mindful eating effectively reduces binge eating behaviors, overeating, and emotional eating.

Eating more slowly, taking small bites, chewing thoroughly, being aware of your senses, and appreciating food are all simple mindfulness practices to incorporate into a daily routine.

Summary: The practice of mindful eating has been shown to help reduce binge eating behaviors. Mindful eating focuses on being aware of your thoughts and senses while eating.

Summary

Many people struggle with overeating.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve eating habits and overcome eating disorders.

Healthcare professionals like psychologists, doctors, or registered dietitians can also provide counseling and guidance to help you get back on track.

Overeating can be a hard habit to break, but you can do it. Use these tips as a starting point to help establish a new, healthy routine, and seek professional help if you need it.

Suggested read: 16 healthy weight loss tips for teens

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