Dr Elena Philippou, PhD, RD
29 Apr 2020 - 3 minute read
Compulsive overeating: Overcome it for good!
Losing control of eating due to emotional reasons can be difficult. Read below to find out how to overcome it!
Losing control of eating due to stress or other emotional reasons can be really draining. I am here to give you 5 tips that have helped many of my clients to finally beat the urge to eat compulsively and start having a healthier relationship with food.
Tip #1: Record and Observe yourself
You need to understand when you are most likely to overeat. Keep a food and emotions diary where you write down what you eat, when, with whom and how you feel. You will start identifying some patterns. You may ‘discover’ that you are skipping meals, that you eat when stressed or bored, that you have associated certain situations such as watching TV with eating compulsively or that you eat compulsively before your period. Once you have identified the reasons that lead you to overeat, it is easier to also find ways to deal with them.
Tip #2 Distract yourself
We know that the urge to overeat comes and goes as a wave You can use this to your advantage by distracting yourself until the wave breaks. Take some time when you are alone and prepare a list of alternative things you could do instead of eating. The list could include:
· Taking a walk around the block
· Listening to music
· Dancing, exercising or doing yoga
· Speaking to a friend on the phone
Keep your list somewhere safe and easy to find and take a moment to pick something from the list when you feel the urge to overeat.
Tip #3 Rate your thirst and hunger
If even after distracting yourself you still want to eat, you might actually be truly hungry or even thirsty. Take a pause to rate your feelings using a scale from 1-10. Drink a glass of water or a herbal tea. If you are hungry, prepare a nutritious meal or snack and sit down to eat it. Include a good source of protein such as lean chicken, cottage cheese, yoghurt, egg, houmous or peanut butter and combine with a source of carbohydrate high in fibre such as wholegrain or seeded bread, sweet potato, quinoa or oats. Use extra virgin olive oil, avocado or unsalted walnuts and don’t forget to include some vegetables such as sliced carrots, steamed broccoli, some pepper or fruit such as a banana or an orange.
Tip #4 Enjoy the quality rather than quantity
Enjoying a small amount of your favourite food is actually healthy and helps in your wellbeing. Prepare a small portion of what you like, sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy it, savour every bite! Be there when you eat it, be mindful, slow down, relax, avoid any distractions and smell the food, taste every single bite, and feel grateful that you are able to eat it. When you finish, put your plate away and do something else still enjoying the aftertaste.
And lastly tip # 5: Be organized
Make sure that you have heart-healthy nutritious food ready to eat. Prepare some home-made peanut butter, have cooked sliced chicken fillet in a container in your fridge, make sure you have a couple of boiled eggs, keep some seeded bread in your freezer and toast it straight from there. Cut some carrots and stir-fry some broccoli, make a bean salad. And, of course, eat regularly, every 3-4 hours even if this means that you put an alarm on your phone to remind yourself at first. The same goes for water: drink a glass of water regularly through the day to keep yourself well hydrated.
And lastly, make one small change at a time and praise yourself when you have achieved that. If you manage something but you are not so good in something else, try again, don’t give up, this is a learning process, it will take time, there will be lapses but it’s all part of the process. If you have a particular problem that bothers you, seek professional help.