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How to Deconstruct Overeating

By Michelle May, M.D.

In my last post, Instead of a Tightrope, Create a Wide Path to Follow, I showed you how the structure of the Mindful Eating Cycle can help you with awareness, decision-making, problem solving, planning, and setting an intention for how you want to live your life.

One of the things I love about mindful eating compared to dieting is that mistakes are part of the process! There is no tightrope to fall off, so there is no need to feel guilty, pay penance, give up, or start over. You just learn and move on.

I want to show you how to do it so I invited one of the Members of our Mindful Eating Support Community to help me demonstrate how you can use the Mindful Eating Cycle to deconstruct an overeating episode and figure out what to do differently next time.

(Be sure to download this handout so you can follow along!)

Deconstruct Overeating

How to Deconstruct an Overeating Episode

Thanks LuAnn! Now, let me recap the key points:

  • When you overeat, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty! That just keeps you trapped in the past.
  • Instead, use the Mindful Eating Cycle to deconstruct the episode. (Draw it on a piece of paper or use this handout.)
  • I recommend starting with “When?” because it is just easier than “Why?”. “Why?” often reveals itself as you work your way through the cycle.
  • When did you feel like eating? What was the circumstance? Where you hungry? How hungry were you? If not, what were you thinking and feeling?
  • What did you eat?
  • How did you eat it?
  • How much did you eat?
  • Where did the fuel go?
  • Sometimes, one episode of eating leads into the next. If needed, repeat the process above.
  • After organizing your thoughts in this format, do you have any insights about why it happened?
  • What could you do differently next time?

I hope it was helpful to see how the process works. Two things to keep in mind:

  1. This is just one example of an unlimited number of situations you might find yourself in. The beauty of the Mindful Eating Cycle is that it helps no matter what happened.
  2. Don’t feel frustrated if you aren’t immediately able to use this process effectively. There’s a lot more to it than I was able to explain in these short videos. Be patient with yourself and trust the process!

In my next video post, I have a big announcement! We’ve put together something really special for you based on your responses to this three question survey about mindful eating.

I can’t wait to share it! It’s an awesome opportunity that will only be available for five days.


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.

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