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A common but often unrecognized trigger for overeating

By Michelle May, M.D.

As you know from my video and post, I had struggled with the “eat-repent-repeat” cycle for many years before realizing that people who eat instinctively ate for very different reasons than I did.

I realized that why I was eating drove every other decision that followed: When I ate, what I are, how I ate, how much I ate, and where I spent my energy. With this huge aha, I finally began to change the reasons I ate. In the last video, I shared a really cool script that will help you decode your triggers for emotional eating and figure out what to do instead.

Now let’s talk about a common but often unrecognized trigger for overeating.

It became clear why diets hadn’t worked for me (or most other people) long term: they weren’t helping me address the underlying reasons I ate–and worse, they become a big part of the problem! This is a pattern that I call the Restrictive Eating Cycle.


All of those years I blamed myself for not being able to stick to a restrictive diet, when in fact, the diet itself was increasing my focus on food, my cravings, my overeating, and my guilt – which just led to more overeating. That was no way to live. And now I don’t have to.

And neither do you!

I’ve had the privilege of spending the last sixteen years teaching thousands of people a completely different way to manage their eating so they can free up their energy to live the vibrant life they crave.

I hope you loved the mindful eating visualization I shared in this video! Were you able to imagine yourself living this way?

In the comments below, please share at least one thing you would do or do differently in your life if you were free of your eat-repent repeat cycle. (Use your first name only and don’t be concerned if your comment doesn’t show up right away; we have to approve them to prevent spam.)

For more help: How to Make Sense of Your Eating Issues


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Kathleen says:

    I would quit binging and purging every night. First it is the thought and then the action. I restrict the rest of the time. I am SURE that I will get fat if I don’t follow MY rules. I know this is insane. I have lots of friends and family. They would be mortified if they new what I was doing to myself.

  2. Judith says:

    I don’t engage in diet talk when w a group and try to remove myself or change the topic. I will try; When… I feel…. I need…..I will…

  3. allyson says:

    one thing would be feeling relaxed and in control of food, be free from obsessing/thinking about food all the time

  4. Julie says:

    I would be free of the terrible guilt and be free to enjoy a much happier relationship with my husband and others because I will be able to fully engage with them when I am not bummed out by my guilt and shame or walking around angry with myself.

  5. When I eat intuitively because I am hungry, I will feel great power and freedom. I won’t be looking outside myself for guidance because I will tune into the wisdom of my body to guide me. My sense of power and freedom will spread into the rest of my life.

  6. Trish says:

    I would be able to naturally control my post menopause high blood pressure without medications and live a long and healthy life with my healthy handsome husband

  7. Ann says:

    I would be able to choose an activity that didn’t include eating when I am bored.

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