Over-Analysizing Overeating

I’ve been thinking a lot about overeating lately.  (Wonder why!)  And an astute comment on another blog made me curious how others view the act.

For me personally, overeating is quite simply eating more than I should.

In the past, I might have overeaten at a meal.  To the point of feeling uncomfortably full when I left the table.  Or I might have overeaten with an amazing variety of junk food, usually including chocolate, and likely alternating between sweet and salty.  Or my overeating might have been a strange combination of whatever food I could find in the house.

Since my new lifestyle-change-last-diet-ever, overeating has a different look to it.  A new flavor.  I overeat what would typically be considered diet-friendly foods.  And I got to thinking that some people might look at that and scoff, thinking that doesn’t compare to the damage done with junk food and fast food and the like.  Probably true.  But for someone trying to turn her eating around for good, any overeating at all is a red flag and a bad thing.  Overeating is overeating.

My overeating is accompanied by emotions that are surely what many feel, regardless of the food ingested.  Let’s see… disgust, self-loathing, regret, dismay, frustration, disbelief… you may know the list as well as I do.  Even if emotions seemingly did not lead to the binge, they rear up during and after.  It does not matter to me if I ate four whole grain bagels or four brownies.  Okay, maybe that does matter.  But I still propose that the act itself is key here, not the food choices.   So while I could pat myself on the back for not getting into my son’s chocolate fudge Pop Tarts on my last little binge, I won’t.  Because for me… a binge is a binge is a binge.

I would like to evolve to a healthy relationship with food.  To me, that means eating when I am physically hungry and not eating when I am not.  And, of course, it means making the right choices with the foods I eat.  And the foods I don’t eat.  Some days I think I am almost there.  But then I slip and realize that I am just hanging on with fleeting willpower and self-control and somewhere underneath it all is still the old me… the one who eats when she is not hungry and eats more than she wants and does it all despite knowing she will regret it.  Fortunately, the old me shows up less and less often now and the new me hangs around most of the time.

For me, after years of yo-yo dieting, it is not enough to lose weight and have a nice number on the scale.  I want need to put overeating behind me.  I don’t know why I do what I do.  Yes, there have been some trigger foods and trigger activities that I now recognize.  But I wonder if there is more to it for me.  I know this is a learning process and I recognize that I am indeed slowly learning.  But some days I just want to go straight to the graduation ceremony and declare myself done!



Filed under cheating/overeating, emotions/emotional issues, making a change, Uncategorized

36 responses to “Over-Analysizing Overeating

  1. yes, you can even overeat on the good for you stuff. Portion control is just as important as what you eat.
    i find I tend to overeat when I am bored….but if I can realize that I am not really hungry, then I can often tell myself I just don’t need the food. So I try ( doesn’t always work ) to ask myself if I am truly hungry or just hungry in my head. Most of the time, its the second, so I have a water…if I still really want something, then I decide if its a sweet or a salty craving, and then have something small that will satisfy that. Three bites if its a high calorie, high fat thing.
    .-= losingmore´s last blog ..Back! 🙂 =-.

    • Karen

      “truly hungry or just hungry in my head” – OMG you read my mind! I wrote a post about just this thing as I thought through hunger. I’ll probably post it in a few days. I was very busy writing while my husband was away:)

  2. I think it’s a good think to take time to analyze the “whys” of our behaviours, whether eating or other habits.

    It’s also great that you recognize that you still eat more than you want to, even if the foods are healthier. For those of us who struggle with our relationships with food (myself included) this is very easy to do. For me, being aware of portions no matter what the food was very helpful in my journey.
    .-= Diane Fit to the Finish´s last blog ..Do You Have Just One Favorite? =-.

    • Karen

      Yes, it is very clear to me that even though I am “successful” at the weight loss part right now, I have other pieces that clearly still need work.

  3. I understand. And I still fight some of those demons too… especially the overeating part. It’s like there is something in my brain that says I can’t stop eating until I’m uncomfortably full. It’s entirely possible to binge on “healthy” food, that’s for sure! Maybe we are just wired differently, and it will always be a struggle? I hate to think that, but it’s a possibility I suppose.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Monday = win =-.

  4. Karen,

    I just was thinking last night while I devoured two entire (big) cucumbers and vinegar. Now this by no means was gonna kill my diet for the week but I WASNT really hungry and I ate not just one but TWO!

    I hope with time and retraining I will eventually stop this crazy behavior. I am still finding weird little triggers and trying to recognize them.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

    Love and Health,


    • Karen

      I laughed at what you ate! It is amazing how I am managing to overeat and never eat anything that is not officially on my diet. I am obviously not fooling myself that it is okay just because it is not junk.

  5. Mindfull eating….I know its so hard! I would like to eat on any occasions…
    .-= sian-girlgetstrong´s last blog ..Easy Tone Reebok Commericals-Have they gone too far? =-.

  6. sunnydaze

    After reading “The Solution” I’ve learned to recognize the triggers of emotional eating (over-eating) and learning to be more aware of my feelings and if I’m really hungry or just bored, loney, angry, whatever and learning to stop eating when I am satisfied before I’m actually full.

  7. I see overeating the exact same way that you do. I can overeat on anything. When I overeat…it’s not like when a naturally thin person overeats. My naturally thin husband may overeat on a special occasion. To him…he just says…I am so full…no weird funky feelings and then doesn’t eat much the rest of the day or whatever. He weight has stayed the same our entire marriage.

    For me overeating…is totally an emotional issue. I don’t accidentally overeat. I choose food to numb whatever I don’t want to feel usually. I know the “why” but not always the cure. It’s a long road.

    You are getting closer to graduation everyday 🙂
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..I did it…I did it…. =-.

    • Karen

      I haven’t figured out why I do it yet. Or if there is a reason. I think there is another whole topic here to explore another day… the idea that there is something behind why we eat.

  8. Great post! I’ve finally feel like I’ve reach a point in my healthiness journey that I can stop when I’m full/satisfied and be just fine, MOST OF THE TIME.

    However, around some certain foods, I still can’t seem to control myself, and I leave the table with those same old feelings of shame. I’m going to be realistic for myself here: It’s always going to be a struggle for me. But, it’s a managable struggle that I’m constantly working on.

    Oh, and I don’t think there was any “overanalysis” in your post. 🙂


    • Karen

      Mine is never at the table now, always in front of the TV or reading. Ah ha, one might say. But I hate to cut them both out. I have thought about restricting my eating to the kitchen table. I probably should. Sigh.

  9. I completely agree with you that it’s the behaviour that needs to be addresses … and it is a hard one to address. I’ve been using a kind of self-hypnosis tape to help me. I too do not want to come back to this place again once I leave it and this time around I’m throwing everything I have at this problem because I too am a slow learner and need as much reinforcement from as many areas as I can get.
    .-= Nona´s last blog .. =-.

  10. But to address the behavior you have to actually address the behavior…. it’s so much easier to just go work out and not think about it. overeating is a hard thing for me b/c I know I’m just covering up something else. And I hate that. Emotions and the feelings are so much tougher to delve into than the calorie content and just a simple slipup. ugh.
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..We Are Nashville =-.

    • Karen

      I was just saying in a previous comment that I want to explore this idea more one day, get more input… the idea that there is or is not something behind my eating.

  11. I don’t know if this will help or not, but I feel like I have a healthy relationship with food. I’ve never had an issue with bingeing, but I still eat when I’m not hungry from time to time. I think that it is within the parameters of normal behavior to for example have a piece of pizza at a party or a slice of wedding cake even when I’m not hungry but for the pleasure of it. While you are working on your issues, I hope you aren’t beating yourself up for every morsel of food you consume when you aren’t hungry. It’s all a matter of balance. It seems to me that you are very mindful of your actions and have made a lot of progress.
    .-= karen@fitnessjourney´s last blog ..Dying for Perfection =-.

    • Karen

      Thanks Karen. I would have to say, looking back, that for most of my adult life I have NOT had a healthy relationship with food. I have not always been overweight during that time, but just didn’t ever eat right and without issues. It is hard to change that many years of behavior.

  12. Goodness I hear you!! Did I ever tell you the story about how I used to dream about inventing a weight loss machine? You put yourself in the machine and then come out skinny? Yeah… I was 15 then. But dang what I wouldn’t do for an invention like that.

    I do overeat. It is different now. I think my stomach is a little smaller, so I don’t have the desire to eat as much.
    However, when I am at an emotional interval, I shove the food in my mouth and chew it like it stole something. It is usually during those times that I go overboard.

    But I do have a question for you…. when you say overeat do you mean in one sitting or throughout the day? Because I always feel like I overeat over a period of time rather than in one sitting. Like a cow grazing if you will. LOL! 🙂

    .-= The Chubby Girl Diaries´s last blog ..Weigh-in Wednesday #2 =-.

    • Karen

      No! You could make a fortune with that machine:)

      To answer your question, in my new healthy eating lifestyle (she says smiling), I almost always overeat in the hours between dinner and bedtime. And in front of the TV or reading a book. So it is sort of both – over a period and in one sitting!

  13. You always post about the most excellent topics!

    For me, I am realizing that there are foods that make me want to eat more, and foods that don’t. I try to stay away from the things that make me more prone to pigging out. Also, when I started blogging about my eating issues, I had only a few rules for myself. No bingeing, and no trying to be perfect, and no feeling guilty. Even if I eat something I know is not good for me, I don’t have to binge on it, and I don’t have to feel bad about it.
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Boston trip, Weekend Warriors, and my favorite month of the year! =-.

    • Karen

      Thanks Carla:) I think I need to commit to cutting out the things I have been overeating lately. Or at least the things that seem to kick off a binge.

  14. I used to overeat because of boredom and because it was there. I don’t know why, but the only thing I do overeat is sweets and that’s been pretty easy to avoid.
    .-= Siobhan´s last blog ..I can’t wear juniors because my butt’s too big =-.

    • Karen

      “I used to overeat because of boredom and because it was there.” – Yes!!!!! But ironically I have still avoided sweets and am just overeating things that most would deem very healthy. Sigh.

  15. The concept of graduation never occured to me – I see this as a forever struggle. I hope it isn’t that way for you!

    I am a really healthy eater, which is why my kids are so healthy, I think. I eat too much for me, for what my metabolism can handle. And on top of that, I love to bake and enjoy eating those home made things. (I wouldn’t eat a packaged baked good if you paid me…) So I am a picky eater who is obese – wierd, huh? So, yes, I understand, very few people believe it, they assume it is all about the junk food. The last time I ate McDonalds was probably when my kids were little, maybe 20 years ago. I could care less about chips and I am really picky about candy, tend to like the expensive stuff and don’t eat it very often.
    .-= Brightside Susan´s last blog ..BOOK CLUB – MY TURN =-.

    • Karen

      I don’t know if it will be forever for me or not. It sure has lasted a long time so far… given my many, many yo-yo years. But I would like to think that I would someday have figured it all out to the point of a life of ease with my eating, not overeating/binging, handling occasional treats in moderation. I could come pig out on your food but you would turn up your nose at a binge at my house:)

  16. You really hit the nail on the head of what I deal with too. To me, it is what it is. Overeating is eating more than I should. Not that long ago, it was almost always eating CRAP. Now, it can be eating whole wheat pita chips with red pepper hummus. It can be eating baby carrots with red pepper hummus. Basically, if I’m satisfied and it’s not meal time and I feel bored or annoyed or sad or whatever..(that’s my triggers) and I go for the food when I’m not hungry or still full from a prior meal, that’s overeating.

    I think there’s a place..an important place..in all of our weight loss journey’s for the analyzing. But, if this makes any sense at all, for me, that’s separate from the actual act that yeah, I just overate.

    Great post!

    • Karen

      Exactly what I do! And I hate revisiting the whole stupid overeating thing but as long as I keep overeating I guess I need to keep thinking about it. Sigh.

  17. I hope you find your “comfy” place soon. You deserve to feel good about what you’re doing–ALL the time! 🙂

    My experience is similar to karen@fitnessjourney’s, in that I look at *occasional* overeating as a by-product of life. I’m just going to sometimes, and as long as it’s part of enjoying life (and that “occasional” thing), I’m okay with it. That had been intention from the beginning, but I kind of forgot about it in months 3-19. 🙂
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..When Heat Attacks =-.

    • Karen

      I want to get to where you are – that place where you are living this lifestyle and it seems so effortless and flexible. Can’t wait to join you there!

  18. Lots to think about in your post, Karen… and in the comments and your replies as well. It seems reading between the lines, that we all seek peace and sanity around eating. Part of that might involve forgiveness, most importantly for ourselves, but also for the people who have been an influence on our habits in the past (or are now). I guess the other part is to recognize which of our behaviors make us feel crazy or self-depricating and abstain from them. Yikes… it sounds so simple. Ha! Thank you to taking on this topic, Karen! Revisit it as often as you like.
    .-= Peacefulbird´s last blog ..Reasons for Overeating =-.

    • Karen

      I am working on a post about the comment I made on your blog recently. It’s just really started me thinking.

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