Mindful Eating Programs and Training

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Why do I still overeat?

Michelle May


Mindful Eating Question from Jodi: I’ve been trying to eat mindfully for more than six months, but I still find myself over eating at times and I don’t know why. Any suggestions?

View this new #AskAmIHungry video to learn more below about overeating and learn some questions to ask yourself to find out why you may be feeling uncomfortable after eating.

#AskAmIHungry Video Transcript:

Thanks for writing Jodi! First, congratulations on practicing mindful eating! And remember, mindful eating IS a practice, not an endpoint!

The first thing I want you to know is that overeating IS part of normal eating, so there is no need to be concerned about occasional overeating.

In fact, there are many reasons why people who have a healthy relationship with food will eat more than they need at times.

For example, they might choose to eat to the point of discomfort for pleasure—like a celebratory meal with friends—or because the food or situation is rare, like enjoying a particular food while traveling. Perhaps they sometimes overeat because they are looking for temporary comfort or distraction.

The difference is that although they might regret eating too much, they don’t feel guilty or ashamed, so it doesn’t feed an eat-repent-repeat cycle. Afterward, they just wait to eat until they get hungry again.

Without knowing the exact circumstances that lead to overeating for you, my suggestion is for you to cultivate curiosity!

As you know, in Am I Hungry? we use the Mindful Eating Cycle to explore our eating decisions. It is also helpful for deconstructing an overeating episode by reflecting on your last eating cycle to try to understand why you overate. So it you feel uncomfortable after eating, you could ask:

  • Why was I eating in the first place? Was I in an Instinctive, Restrictive or Overeating Cycle?
  • When did I get the urge to eat? What physical sensations did I have? What was I thinking? What was I feeling? What else was going on?
  • Am I able to identify hunger? Was I hungry? How hungry was I? Was I too hungry?
  • If I wasn’t hungry, what was the physical, emotional or environmental trigger? (The same triggers that cause you to eat when you’re not hungry can cause you to continue eating past fullness.)
  • What did I choose to eat and why? Did that affect how much I ate? Did I like it? Was I afraid I wouldn’t get to eat it again?
  • How did I eat? Was I mindful or distracted? Did I eat fast or secretly?
  • How much did I eat? Did I set an intention for how full I wanted be when I was done eating?
  • How much food did I have in front of me?
  • Where have I been investing my energy lately? Have I been practicing self-care? Do I feel out of balance? Could that be why I overate?

What Will I Do Differently Next Time?

Once you understand what led to overeating, you’re able to make a plan for what you’ll do differently next time.

In other words, turn the experience into a learning opportunity.


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