I stood there, staring into the fridge, seething with frustration over my poor food choices. Dinner started with the best of intentions as I reassured myself that I would eat just enough. But, I didn’t stop and now I wondered why I just can’t stop overeating.
“I’ve ruined today so I may as well eat what I can now and start tomorrow” played like a broken record in my mind. But that spinning vinyl screeched to a halt “that day” when something crazy happened.
Have you ever felt like there was no hope for you in your quest to end overeating? Yeah, me too. And there are a bunch of reasons why both you and I have struggled.
In this post, I am going to break down the top ten of binge eating, overindulgence, and overeating causes. Unlocking the why will help you figure out your best next steps towards food freedom.
Read through the list, noting any areas that stand out to you. Then be sure to download the checklist that will help you find your personalized solution!
10 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Overeating Causes
1. “Stuck in Your Dieting Past” Overeating
Do you know that the number one risk factor for obesity is dieting? Diets jack us up! Pull any two random diet books off a bookstore shelf and you are going to find two plans with rules that probably contradict one another… What’s a girl to do?
At any given meal, it is pretty much guaranteed that you are eating something that some “expert” somewhere proclaims is terrible for you. And you know as well as I do what making food choices we perceive as “bad” does to us– Yep! We tend to eat more. To over-eat.
This mindset is the very thing that makes you feel like you can’t stop overeating. It’s time to learn how to stop dieting.
What to do:
Survey your previous diet experience and determine if all-or-nothing eating has plagued you. Then commit to setting aside fads and seek to gently change your eating (without drastic restrictions) for good.
2. “You’re Stress Eating” Overeating
This one probably doesn’t surprise you as one of the major overeating causes. Women today are running a pace they can hardly keep up with. It seems the more conveniences our lives offer, the more packed with inefficiencies they become.
Multitasking, micromanaging and having a mobile phone attached 24/7 have dramatically increased our stress levels. When this happens, finding a break with food is hard to pass up.
Why food? Well, if you feel guilty for being “unproductive” for even a microsecond, eating is a great excuse to finally stop.
What to do:
Give yourself permission to unplug without food and learn how to stop stress eating.
3. “You’re Undernourished” Overeating
Have you noticed that nourishing food begets nourishing food just as processed, carby food makes you crave even more of IT? While you may have thought this all in your head, there is a physiological reason for this.
Surprisingly, there are obese individuals in North America who are dying from malnutrition. I’m not kidding. While these men and women are eating (many) more calories than their bodies need, they are consuming very few nutrients.
Packaged food filled with fake ingredients, stripped of all their natural nutrition do not satisfy our bodies the way whole, God-made food does. Meals lacking in protein, healthy fats, fiber, and the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables will leave us longing for more, even if we just ate!
What to do:
Survey your plate and look for simple ways to balance your meal so that you can walk away fully satisfied.
4. “Not Saying No” Overeating
Let’s be honest, we like to be liked. And one way to try to paint ourselves in a favorable light with others is by saying “yes” to their requests, regardless of how many plates we are already trying to spin.
I bet you’re wondering what this had to do with why you can’t stop overeating…
Have you heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup?” Well, you can’t expect a woman who runs from dusk to dawn managing kids, a home, and all those people-pleasing responsibilities to have much left in the tank to say “no” to those sugary sweets.
Not respecting your need for rest, quiet, and relaxation can lead to making disrespectful choices towards your body.
What to do:
Pull out your calendar and mark off one evening per week that you fully commit to leaving unscheduled.
5. “You’re Thirsty, Not Hungry” Overeating
Dehydrated bodies do not run optimally. Headaches, a lack of energy and persistent hunger are all signs that you could use some H2O.
If you are not familiar with the feelings of true body hunger then it will be very easy to misinterpret thirst as a need to eat when you’re not hungry. To make matters worse, if we start eating when not hungry (the start signal), it is difficult to know when we are full (the “how to stop eating” signal). And, we may end up too FULL.
What to do:
Determine how much water you need each day and create a plan to build up to that total over the next 30-60 days.
6. “You’re Bored” Overeating
Have you ever eaten for entertainment? Let’s call this practice “eatertainment”. The day is boring. Maybe you’re weighed down with responsibilities or straight-up UNinspired by your life and eating feels like the perfect solution.
On the flip side, think of the last time you were so involved in a project that you completely forgot to have a meal? You engaged your mind and knocked food way down your priority list.
When our days start to run into one another, food can be a source of excitement.
If your desk job is making you dreary, lunch may be a bright spot. If you’re cooped up in the house because of bad weather, eatertainment may be your best attempt to beat boredom.
What to do:
If you feel like you can’t stop overeating, check and see if food is a major source of “fun” in your life. Then, look for something to do besides eating.
7. “You’re Tired” Overeating
It’s that moment when you are so tired you reach for something, anything, to eat that will give you a little boost of energy. Food is energy but food cannot replace rest. If you are mentally or physically overtired, it can be very difficult to stop overeating.
What to do:
Aim to sleep 7-8 hours per night and embrace good sleep hygiene. Just like any healthy habit, give yourself time to create better sleep habits.
8. “You Reward Yourself With Food” Overeating
From the time we were small we have been rewarded with food. A winning tee-ball game or an aced exam were all our parents needed to break out the ice cream!
As we become adults, this habit can linger in our lives. And, it can become much more pervasive. If we are looking for an excuse to eat, just about any event can be a means for reward.
For many, simply making it through the day feels like a reason to reward. For years I hung onto overeating at night, something I saw as a way a treat myself for getting from point A to point B.
Food can be a nice treat but frequent rewards with it can hinder our goals.
What to do:
Create a list of non-food rewards and PLAN on giving yourself a special treat once per week. Remember that this does not have to be fancy, a new bottle of nail polish from the Dollar Store, or a Saturday morning walk with a friend totally count.
9. “You’re Emotional Eating” Overeating
Being a female isn’t always a walk in the park. Hormonal fluctuations can wreak havoc on our moods and cause unwanted cravings. While we cannot control how we feel, it is easy to overlook the fact that we can control how we react to those feelings.
When we let our feelings run awry we can feel much more anxious, angry, and time-of-the-month moody than we have to feel.
It’s often our emotion about the emotion that makes us most uncomfortable and seeking a reprieve in food.
What to do:
Look for monthly patterns in your emotional state and plan accordingly– A walk instead of intense workout or just laying in bed. A hearty, healthy, homemade dinner instead of a salad or fast food raid. A relaxing evening at home instead of overscheduling or hiding away.
10. “Your Spirit is Hungry” Overeating
You, my friend, are a triune being- having a spirit, a soul, and a body. When any one of those areas goes unkept, that disruption can overflow into our food choices.
This is especially true for spiritual hunger. God created us to fellowship with Him and when that space in our lives is empty, we are empty indeed. Have you ever felt like something is missing but you just can’t put your finger on it?
Chances are really good that you are spiritually undernourished and you need to give God control over your eating.
What to do:
You Can Stop Overeating Once and For All
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why you can feel like you literally can’t stop overeating. To change, we need to become more aware of why we are doing so in the first place. Then we can create fitting solutions that will impact our lives.
This is what has happened on my journey. When I didn’t know why I stood in front of the refrigerator longing to eat when I wasn’t hungry, it was hard to stop.
But, when I identified the diet mindset, noticed that food had become my main source of fun, and nourished my spirit like it really mattered to me (because it did), I was finally able to shut the door and walk away. I no longer had to wonder “why can’t I stop eating when I’m full?”
And that broken spinning vinyl in my head finally came to a screeching halt.
Yours can too.
What To Do When You Can’t Stop Overeating:
Download your FREE Beat Overeating Checklist Printable below!
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Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.