Beating yourself up because you cannot stop eating? Constantly telling yourself you have no willpower to control your eating? Feeling like a failure each time you lost control? That is kind of awful, right?
One thing for sure, it has nothing to do with control and willpower. Let’s look at a new positive approach and practical steps that will definitely help you to stop eating. I wrote other blogs on the subject to give you all the tools to stop eating when you are full.
First of all, punishing yourself will only perpetuate the infernal spiral of guilt/overeating/punishment/restriction/overeating and so on and so on.
Here are 4 practical strategies to break the cycle when you can’t stop eating.
1. Stop skipping meals
Skipping meals is the best way to end up eating with a ravenous appetite. Unfortunately not the healthy foods, but the sweet and carby ones. Any rational desires for healthy foods have been overwhelmed by biologically propelled cravings for all the bad stuff. Make sure you NEVER EVER skip meals, especially breakfast that sets the tone for the entire day. It has been proven scientifically that people who skip breakfast gain weight faster.
It is crucial to “break the fast” with healthy proteins, fats and complex carbs. Think of it as an engine that you turn on every morning so it can start functioning and burning calories. Here are the consequences of skipping breakfast:
- The body goes into starvation mode and stores much more of everything you will eat for lunch compared to a person who had a healthy breakfast
- When the body goes into starvation mode (yep, it happens faster than you think…), it secretes cortisol, the stress hormone and insulin making you feel hungry and store fat.
- You are not doing any favor to your blood sugar who will run low and provoke some uncontrollable cravings
- Your blood sugar will very likely yo-yo all day long, leading to cravings at night. You would be surprised to hear the number of patients who couldn’t stop eating at night because they simply didn’t have breakfast.
2. Stop undereating
Binge eating at night is very often the result of a tiny breakfast and a light lunch, missing all the necessary proteins, complex carbs and fats. Forget about willpower and rational thoughts when you are fighting hunger and feelings of deprivation. Like I just mentioned in point 1, when hunger is so strong, the body is propelled to eat everything you can find. It is biological, it has nothing to do with willpower. This brings me to point 3.
3. Never let hunger kick in for too long
When I hear my patients tell me “but hunger is better than feeling stuffed”, I hear what they are saying and yes, it is good to feel some light hunger pangs just before eating but letting hunger kick in for too long is tricky. When you wait too long to eat after you start feeling hungry, you cannot make rational decisions anymore like I just mentioned in point 2. Extreme hunger leads to (imagine the snowball effect…) extreme cravings, unstable blood sugar, increased cortisol which leads to more cravings and, bamps!, there is a big chance you won’t be able to stop eating.
Check my blog post HOW TO STOP OVEREATING: TAKE OUT YOUR HUNGER SCALE! (coming soon)
My suggestions is to never let hunger kick in for too long and eat more regularly during the day if needed. Don’t avoid complex carbs, they will help you to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the say. If you are hungry, you MUST eat, it is not about being good here, it is about having healthy habits and avoiding overeating.
How does this sound:
8am: Egg white omelet with mushrooms
12.30pm: Spinach salad with nuts
7pm: Pasta with chicken
11pm: Way too many chocolate chip cookies and you just can’t stop eating
What went wrong?
- Time stretch between lunch and dinner is far too long, a healthy snack would have been needed to keep the blood sugar balanced
- Egg yolks should have been added to the omelet for healthy fats and proteins as well as complex carbs to accompany the omelet
- Lunch doesn’t have any protein to keep full and manage cravings
- Dinner doesn’t contain any veggies
Simple changes would make a huge difference and allow to avoid overeating, even binge eating at night.
4. Get organized
It is super important to get organized. I always insist on this point with my patients. If they don’t have any healthy options ready, they will end up reaching for convenience foods so easy and quick to eat such as chips, bread, a bowl of cereal. When hunger kicks in and nothing is ready, it is obvious that you will not take the time to chop all the veggies, prepare a salad and a homemade vinaigrette.
So what does getting organized mean?
- Batch cooking (check my eBook …)
- Meal prep such as chopping veggies and fruits
- Prepare a big quantity of soup or chicken bone broth that you can sip whenever you feel a little hungry
- Cook quinoa or wild rice in advance
- Always have basics in your fridge and pantry (check my HOW TO STOCK YOUR PANTRY eBook and my ULTIMATE CLEAN EATING SHOPPING to improve your shopping experience)
- Prepare a few sweet snacks to satisfy a sweet tooth such a power balls, granola (check all my recipes on my personal blog)
The HAPPY SPOON 30-DAY PROGRAM will give all the tools to break the cycle when you can’t stop eating. It is all about
- building healthy habits,
- understanding your triggers,
- listening to you body’s cues of hunger and fullness to be able to stop eating when you are satisfied and light,
- becoming mindful eaters,
- overcoming your eating challenges and finding food freedom for good.
EMOTIONAL EATING: WHY IT HAPPENS
I BINGE EAT: 5 EASY WAYS TO STOP OBSESSING OVER FOOD