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Overcoming Overeating: 3 Steps to Get Back on Track

Weight loss (and maintenance) can be a rocky road. Overeating happens; the reality is that everybody overeats from time to time. Overeating can mean going over in our calories or continuing to eat after our stomach is full.

So what should you do when you find yourself veering off track? In this article, I will share with you the dos and don’ts about getting back on track with weight loss.

What to Do When You Get Off Track with Weight Loss (In 3 Easy Steps!)

  • Overcome Guilt and Shame Tied to Overeating

  • Don’t Restrict Food or Engage in Extreme Behaviors

  • Get Back on Track As Soon As Possible

Step 1. Overcoming Guilt and Shame Tied to Overeating

First, let’s talk about guilt and shame that can arise with overeating. Guilt tells you that you did a bad thing by going over on your calories or eating past fullness; shame tells you that you are bad because of those behaviors. Realize that the statements above are not true (or any of the other negative thoughts you may have)!

It’s important to tackle any feelings or beliefs you have around the act of overeating. Instead of judging yourself harshly for overindulging, practice showing yourself kindness. The truth is that the path you’re on is going to have its ups and downs, but the great news is that you’ll have the chance to learn about yourself and grow from your mistakes.

Taking time to observe your thoughts (and practice kindness + positive thinking) will help you get to the root cause and prevent future overeating. So, break the overeating cycle! Hit that reset button to ditch the guilt and shame! Don’t fall off the wagon just because you slipped up once.

You can do it!

Step 2: Don’t Restrict or Engage in Extreme Behaviors

Quit Over Restricting Food to “Make up for it”

Restricting food to “make up for” overeating is not the way to go. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that skipping the next meal or fasting will help. Restricting food can lead to destructive thoughts and behaviors surrounding food, which can turn into disordered eating patterns such as bingeing. An example of this would be that when you restrict food you become so hungry that you end up bingeing or overeating again. That’s not the goal here! In short, we need food to survive and our bodies know how to handle the extra calories, so there is no need to restrict.

Stop Engaging in “Punishment Exercise” to Burn it Off

In addition to restricting food, engaging in exercise to burn off the calories you ate is also counterproductive. Exercise in this form becomes a type of punishment, which is never a good idea - it cancels out all of the enjoyment of exercise! Plus, if you decide to exercise soon after overeating, your stomach probably won’t be a happy camper...meaning you may end up tossing the cookies if you know what I mean!

What you can do instead: take a walk to reduce stress and as a bonus, you’ll get the food moving through your digestive system.

Step 3. Do: Get Back on Track as Soon as You Can

Your Next Meal - Eat Normally

Instead of restricting, make your next meal satisfying and get back to your regular eating habits. Eat delicious, nutritious foods and drink some water.

Also, you may want to try practicing mindfulness. Mindful eating means to pay attention to your body’s hunger and satiety cues. For instance, if you aren’t as hungry by the time the next mealtime rolls around, eat a light, balanced meal and be sure to stop when you’re feeling full. It may be difficult to practice at first, but honoring your body’s needs will become second-nature with time.

Reflection - Mistakes Make Valuable Learning Moments

Identifying Triggers

Have you noticed that you tend to overeat when you’re stressed or angry? Or maybe you overeat when you go out to a restaurant because of the large portion sizes. No matter what the root cause, identifying your triggers is a huge part of the solution and will prevent you from overeating in the future.

Take note of the last few times you remember overindulging and try a food journaling exercise:

- Where were you eating?

- Who were you with?

- Were there any underlying emotions you were feeling at the time?

Once you’ve answered the questions above and identified the root cause of your overeating, take note of how you can handle the situation in the future. This could look like brainstorming ideas about how to prevent yourself from overeating, positive self-talk phrases to overcome shame and guilt, or what works for you to get back on track if you do overeat.

Closing Thoughts

Any healthy, sustainable diet consists of a little indulgence from time to time. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle - you don’t need to give up your favorite foods to succeed! In other words, I don’t advocate for labeling foods as good or bad. Enjoy what you’re eating, but remember not to overdo it.

The bottom line is to stop looking back. You’ll trip. Keep your eyes focused and you’ll get to where you want to be!

If you enjoyed this article be sure and hit the share button. My goal is to be the last dietitian you ever need. I personally love food and firmly believe you don't have to give up what you love to reach your goals. My services are virtual so no matter where you are, we can find a way to help you have your cake and eat it too! Click here to inquire.


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