I know how you feel! If I get a whiff of a chocolate chip cookie, I can’t stop eating until I devour the entire tin. Here’s what to do when you can’t stop eating; I learned how to overcome mindless overeating the hard way and you may have to, too…but at least you’ll know you’re not alone.
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“I can’t stop eating, no matter what I do or how hard I try!” says Becky on 7 Ways to Overcome Food Cravings and Stop Mindless Eating. “I know God loves me and created me and all that, but still. I can’t overcome my food cravings and I can’t stop eating if I have even one chocolate chip cookie. I have to keep eating until the bag is empty. I read one of your blog posts that you overcame an eating disorder. What did you do to stop binge eating?”
I have to be honest: it took me a really, really long time to learn how to stop overeating. I still fall into the overeating trap sometimes, but it’s more of a choice than a helpless overwhelmed mad descent into a binge-and-purge session.
Reading books such as Help! I Can’t Stop Eating: Getting to the Root of Your Overeating didn’t help, and either did talking to a counselor. It didn’t help to marry a wonderful man who has a healthy relationship with food, or even to turn my life over to God.
So what did help me stop overeating and overcome the evil binge monster?
What to Do When You Can’t Stop Eating
I learned how to stop eating mindlessly and frantically by trying a combination of different strategies. There is no “one magic tip” on how to stop overeating that works for everyone.
You will heal from the pain of binge eating and overeating when you try a variety of healthy strategies and tips – and when you find the “awesome Blossom” combination that works for you!
Learn how food affects your body, energy, and mood
There are no quick fixes – but there are healthy tips that will change how you see yourself, how you view food, and how you treat your body.
Here’s my best advice for what to do when you can’t stop eating:
- Do not eat one bite of the food that overpowers your self-control. Be honest! Admit that the food craving is stronger than you are, and that you will binge until the whole stuffed chicken or pan of chocolate chip cookies is gone.
- Learn how that first bite of “forbidden food” affects your body, energy level, and mood. When I eat a chocolate chip cookie or brownie, my blood sugar almost immediately drops and I feel so tired, sluggish, and gross. So guess what? I don’t eat one bite of chocolate chip cookie because I’m sick of the whole overeating roller coaster. I have better things to do with my time and energy!
I’m 47 years old. It took me a long, long time to get past my binge eating problem and Blossom into who God created me to be. And I’m here to help you get healthy in a much shorter amount of time than it took me!
Learn how others learned how to stop overeating
How did I stop my out of control binge eating?
A combination of things helped me get healthy and Blossomy! I started doing yoga by myself at home. I went to a counselor; the insights I gained were good because they increased my self-awareness, but counseling didn’t stop me from overeating. Maybe it’s because I was only in counseling for eight months (only?!), and I wasn’t ready to quit my food addiction. I could barely say “I can’t stop eating”, much less give it up.
The truth is, I sometimes – but very rarely – lapse into binge eating marathons. Sometimes the temptation and craving to eat as much as I can is too much, and I succumb. One of the ways to overcome emotional eating is to let yourself be weak and imperfect sometimes. Now instead of beating myself up about overeating, I console myself. I am gentle with myself, and lovingly accept that my need to give myself comfort by eating food overcame my common sense, and I lost control.
Consider a counseling session – or join an Overeaters Anonymous group
You increase your chances of success if you join other women who are wrestling with the overeating monster. Their support and encouragement will help you see that you’re not alone, and give you different tips for overcoming the food cravings.
Join a group of like-minded women and/or men, and learn from them. Talk about why you can’t stop eating, and how they stop eating. Share strategies for overcoming emotional eating, overeating, and disordered eating. Say “I can’t stop eating” or “I am a food addict” out loud. Share your secret, gather with fellow survivors, and know that you are not alone.
Combine practical and emotional tips on how to stop overeating
Developing self-awareness and practicing self-compassion are excellent emotional tips or ways to get healthy. Keeping your fridge and cupboards stocked with foods you can actually can stop eating is a practical way to learn how to stop eating mindlessly. Fruits, veggies, you know the drill. Joining an overeaters anonymous support group is a good practical and emotional tip, and so is spending time with people who have a healthy relationship with food.
If you know you need to stock your fridge and cupboards with healthy food but you’re on a tight financial budget, read 10 Tips for Eating Healthy When You Don’t Make Much Money.
One of the main things that helped me stop overeating was marrying a guy who could take food or leave it. He enjoys eating, but always stops when he is satisfied (not stuffed). His healthy attitude towards food has rubbed off on me and changed my relationship with food.
Learn how to treat yourself with TLC (tender loving care)
You may be struggling with the “I can’t stop eating” monster because you don’t like yourself. Maybe you feel worthless, unloved, rejected…or maybe you even hate yourself, like I did. I hated myself for a long time, and for a long time I wondered why I couldn’t stop eating. Now I see the connection between overeating and empty self-loathing, and it has helped me stop binging.
Sometimes food addiction stems from feelings of guilt, shame, self-hatred, and perfectionism. If you struggle with negative feelings towards yourself, read How to Stop Hating Yourself.
Find ways to give your life meaning and purpose
The more interesting things you do in life, the happier and healthier you’ll be – and the less likely you’ll crave food as comfort and security.
“What would you do if you felt absolutely no fear and had limitless time and money?” asks Dr Pam Peeke in The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction. “Would you create art? Start your own business? Try out for a play? Learn to pole dance? Run for political office?”
Blogging and writing gives my life meaning – but I used to sacrifice my precious, beloved blogging time to give in to those overwhelming food cravings. I hated when I did that, but I learned how to forgive myself and just be a girl who is still Blossoming. I also learned how to get meaning and fulfillment from running with my dog, practicing my flute, doing yoga, praying, reading, spending time with my husband, and spending time with my Little Sister.
Improve your working memory – a surprising tip on how to stop overeating!
Your working memory is your short-term memory; you use it to remember which fruit and veggies you need to buy at the grocery store or where you’re meeting your friends after work today.
But if you cram too many things into your short-term memory, you’ll forget why you want to overcome food cravings and stop mindless eating.
“When your working memory is overloaded with the 50 other things you have to get done by the day’s end, it can be hard to remember the ultimate reason why you want to resist that chocolate bar in the checkout line,” writes Dr Peeke in The Hunger Fix.
Instead of wasting your memory energy on inconsequential things, make lists of things you need to do. This will help you walk away from the short-term pleasure (binge eating a carton of ice cream, or emotional eating two bags of Doritos) in favor of the long-term reward (feeling good about your body, loving who you are, and not feeling terrible because you couldn’t stop eating).
Understand why you can’t stop eating
“Among women who binge eat, 83% were abused as children,” writes Dr Pam Peeke in The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction. “Often when [food] addicts ‘fall off the wagon’ or have trouble with their recovery, it is because they’re still struggling to deal with their earlier traumas – and they revert to self-medicating with their False Fix (mindless binge or emotional eating).”
In The Hunger Fix, Dr Peeke explains why so many women struggle with the “I can’t stop eating” monster. She offers an effective overeating and food addiction recovery plan, and shares solid practical advice for overcoming food cravings that go right to the heart of the problem.
Tell me why you can’t stop eating
Learning what to do when you can’t stop eating involves being brutally honest with yourself, and looking at painful emotions and experiences.
It may hurt to learn why you’re addicted to food – are you bored, unhappy, or anxious? Or maybe you’re like me…you were abused or neglected as a child, and your food cravings are your attempt to fill the emptiness inside. I get it. You are not alone, so take heart!
If you can’t stop eating, you need to think about the roots of the problem. Being aware of why you mindlessly binge eat and why you’re still wrestling with the “I can’t stop eating” cookie monster won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
How do you feel, what do you think? I welcome your comments below! I can’t offer advice or counseling, but you may find it helpful to share your thoughts. Writing is a great way to untangle your emotions and become more aware of what you really think and feel.