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Recipes: Overeating and Instinctive Eating

By Michelle May, M.D.

Recipe for OvereatingJ0406482

1 batch, bag, box, or large plate of food
2 tablespoons of deprivation
1 heaping teaspoon of guilt
Sprinkle of shame
Optional: fatigue, stress, resentment, loneliness, boredom


  1. Run yourself down physically by not sleeping, exercising, eating when you’re hungry, or consuming nutritious foods. Alternatively, wear yourself out by working too hard, being all things to all people, and trying to make everything perfect.
  2. Place emotions on medium-high. Cover and simmer; do not allow steam to escape.
  3. When you crave something you love, remind yourself that it’s bad, fattening, or high in carbs.
  4. When your cravings grow stronger, tell yourself that you’re bad for wanting bad food.
  5. Wait until an influential person such as your grandmother or co-worker insists you eat that food anyway to please them. Alternatively, sneak the food when no one is watching.
  6. Sit down in front of the T.V. or choose another activity to distract yourself while you eat.
  7. Before eating, garnish the food with guilt. If it’s still enjoyable, stir in some shame to ensure that the food is completely ruined.
  8. Eat as quickly as possible to avoid tasting or enjoying the food.
  9. You’re done when you feel sick and uncomfortable.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 until can’t stand it anymore. Try the Recipe for Instinctive Eating.

Recipe for Instinctive EatingJ0400611

1 or 2 servings of food you love
2 tablespoons of hunger
1 heaping teaspoon each of intention and attention
Sprinkle of trust
Optional: pleasure, enjoyment, celebration, tradition


  1. Care for yourself physically by getting adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  2. Create a self-care buffer zone by regularly nurturing your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
  3. When you’re hungry, consider what you want, what you need, and what you have to eat before choosing food.
  4. Decide how you want to feel when you’re finished eating; serve yourself accordingly (or adjust the portion if someone else served you).
  5. When the food you crave isn’t particularly healthful, omit all guilt and shame. Remind yourself that all foods fit when you practice balance, variety, and moderation.
  6. Sit down to eat and minimize distractions.
  7. Savor the appearance, aromas, textures, and flavors as you eat.
  8. Eat slowly and mindfully for maximal enjoyment from every bite.
  9. Stop when you feel content and energetic.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 for the remainder of your life.

(From my Am I Hungry? E-News; subscribe and receive “101 Things to Do Besides Eat”)




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. Hi Michelle,
    This is a great article!I love your list of ingredients for instinctive eating.
    Almost everyone engages in the act of comfort eating from time to time. It is common to reach for food when we are unhappy in life, feeling stressed, depressed, bored, or disempowered. Eating is an attempt to feel better in our body, have comfort, de-stress, stave off boredom, cheer up, or change how we are feeling.
    Yet, comfort eating or overeating is uniquely strange paradox. We want to experience the sweetness of life and the fullness of love. Yet, even while eating, especially while eating to feel better, we rarely indulge in the exquisite sensations food offers. Afterwards, we are likely to feel miserable and guilty about overeating. In fact, we probably end up feeling worse after comfort eating than we did before eating the comfort foods. Most of the time comfort eating fails to provide the comfort we seek.
    Your tips show how important it is to “Eat What you Love, and Love What You Eat.” Thanks for sharing your message!

  2. Love it! Thanks for posting this.

  3. Thanks Kelly! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    Great insight about this paradox Annette. What is clear is that dieting does not address these issues, and in fact, becomes an additional emotional trigger for overeating.

  4. Eve Lahijani says:

    LOVED this! What a creative way to illustrate what is happening with our clients and what it takes to turn it all around!! Keep up the GREAT work!

  5. John Keyes says:

    Overeating does not equate to overweight. I spent a year loosing a pound a week no matter what I ate do to an illness. The receipt for not gaining wight is large amounts of alkaline (pH 9.5 or highter) water.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to comment John. I completely agree that overeating does not equate to being overweight (and vice versa). However, the solution is not that simple or there wouldn’t be a problem!

  7. This is the most clever “recipe” I have ever read. I have shared in many times, and needed to finally tell you that
    your creativity + facts = joy

  8. Thank you so much Shirley! It was such a pleasure to write, especially given that both my Grandmother and my daughter have written cookbooks:) My hope is that people will rediscover a healthy, joyful relationship with food.

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