7 Realistic Tips to Conquer Overeating

2 Huge Ice Cream Sundaes
How to conquer your overeating for good!

Overeating is the number one reason for overweight and obesity. While hormonal imbalances can play a role in what's going on, hormones drive you to eat.

It all comes comes down to the same problem:

How do you conquer your overeating habits for good?

In this post, we are going to look at 7 realistic weight-loss strategies that can help you get back to living abundantly.

I've been traveling the diet circuit for decades now. And in all of that time, I've seen dozens of weight-loss diets come and go in popularity. All of them promise to help you conquer overeating if you just use their tried-and-true method.

The latest diet to bite the dust is the Sugar Busters Diet, a low-glycemic plan first published in 1995. While the Sugar Busters forum is still online, the last post was in 2014. The Sugar Busters domain, was taken down a short while ago and is now for sale.

Like all other nutritional approaches to fat loss, the authors claimed they could conquer overeating and cure the obesity epidemic with a low-sugar, low-glycemic, high-fiber diet that didn't require you to count calories.

Sound familiar?

Almost all of the popular diets side-step the truth that overweight and obesity are a direct result of the body being out of energy balance.

Each new program tries to blame a different aspect of your current diet for making you fat, and comes with a different solution for the problem, but most of what they tell you isn't realistic.

Pinterest Image: Ice Cream Sundae with Caramel Topping; Cupcakes Decorated Like Snowmen

Overeating Tip #1: To Conquer Overeating, Don't Eat if You're Not Hungry

People believe a lot of things about why they are overweight. Maybe, you do too. If I asked you why you're overweight, what would you say?
  • carbohydrates are poison
  • I eat too much protein
  • I need to walk away from saturated fats
  • its those modern-day grains
  • genetically modified organisms
  • sugar and other sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup
  • processed foods and chemical additives
  • pesticides and herbicides
  • insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome
When I watched myself closely, rather than blaming one of the potential suspects above, a different story emerged. If you're like me, you probably eat when you are not hungry.

Bowl of Popcorn and Mug of Hot Cocoa in Front of the Fire
Most overweight people eat for comfort or
out of habit, instead of when hungry.

Instead of waiting for the body to tell me it was time to refuel, I ate due to:
  • boredom
  • stress
  • social situations
  • how good the food smelled
  • having to taste while cooking meals
  • fear I wouldn't be able to eat later
  • believed I needed to keep my energy up
  • meal schedules and work schedules
  • the belief that I have to eat breakfast
  • how tasty I remember that food being
  • belief that I had to eat enough fat
  • habit, such as popcorn at the movies
  • anger and feeling mistreated
  • a strong need for comfort
  • belief that I would go into starvation mode if I don't
  • special occasion like my birthday
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons to eat that do not include hunger.

However, those extra calories don't magically dissolve just because you didn't need them. If your body can't use what you eat, the energy can't be destroyed. It will have to be used in a non-typical manner or stored and used at a later date.

For me, that later date never came because I just kept mindlessly shoveling in the calories.

Habitual eating is the most destructive habit you can have because once your fat cells start screaming “No More!,” the body will start storing unused energy in odd places where it doesn't belong.

Overeating is why you end up with a fatty liver or fat deposits around your organs.

So I decided to make this my number one strategy:

No matter what plan you're following, whether you're limiting carbs, fat, sugar, or calories, don't eat unless you're physically hungry.

Discerning hunger isn't as easy as it sounds. Many people have lost touch with what true hunger feels like, which is why overeating can be so difficult to stop. Some people have even mixed up the signals for thirst and hunger.

If you're used to eating every time you have an urge to eat, smell something good, or have a yummy image pop into your head, you're probably eating when you're not hungry.

To overcome your habitual eating habits, you need to discern the difference between real hunger and cravings or urges that provide no value.

Overeating Tip #2: Devalue Food

Scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream Topped with a Red Raspberry
Sweet treats only provide temporary pleasure.
They won't solve everything that's wrong in your life.

Most people who are overweight have placed a high value on food. For many individuals, food is the most valuable thing in their lives. If you constantly think about food, talk about food, and worry about what you're going to eat next, then food has taken over your life.

The intense pleasure you get from the sight, smell, and taste of food is part of your life experience, but you don't have to let food have control over what you do and when you do it.

I had to recognize that I overeat because eating brings a type of instant gratification that only food can give, but also see that emotional high for what it was: an illusion.

Eating only brings temporary satisfaction.

It doesn't solve a problem.

Eating because you're stressed only makes you fat, which is a solution to a prior problem that you now don't want to accept. The relief eating brings lasts only for a moment, and then that craving comes back more forcefully than it was before.

When you shuffle your priorities and put food further down on the list, you'll gain the power to stop sabotaging your efforts and be able to tell food:

“No. Not now. Maybe later.”

And mean it.

However, to take charge of your life and ditch those overeating habits for good, you'll need to find other ways to treat yourself that do not include food.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that food only exists for fuel, although some people have come to that conclusion. It works for them, but it definitely wouldn't work for me because I enjoy cooking.

But when you make food your sole purpose for living, there is little value left over for anything or anyone else, so the big questions you need to ask yourself are:
  • WHY do you want to eat?
  • Is it to make you feel good?
  • Is it to prevent an uncomfortable situation?
  • Is it because your stomach is cramping and telling you its empty?
  • Are you eating because food and [fill in the blank] go together?
  • Are you stressed and need a little comfort?
  • What do you GET by overeating?
  • What's the payoff for eating more than you need?
  • If you chose to skip lunch today, what would you do instead?
  • WHY are you not doing that thing?
Purpose determines behavior, so you will always do what's most important to you at any given moment. When you consciously make food less valuable than something else, you'll find the strength you need to conquer those unrealistic urges and keep food in its proper place in your life.

Overeating Tip #3: Stop Eating Foods You Don't LOVE

Most weight-loss diets are filled to the brim with “Thou shalt not” commandments:
  1. Thou shalt not eat too many carbs.
  2. Thou shalt not eat saturated fats.
  3. Thou shalt not eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
  4. Thou shalt not eat commercially raised animals.
  5. Thou shalt not eat corn or other grains.
  6. Thou shalt not eat processed foods.
And on and on it goes, depending on what the author of that particular plan thought was bad.

I've been blogging in the weight-loss space for over 10 years now, so I've had a lot of rules thrown at me. Most of these commandments have absolutely no merit because the mind will create what you dwell on.

The mind creates what you believe to prove to you it's true, so you'll keep on believing it. Even if it's not true.

For example:

If you believe that you will get fat from eating too many carbs, instead of too many calories, then the mind will create that reality for you. When you overeat carbs, the body will stuff water into your fat cells and make it look like you gained body fat.

The biggest obstacle of any weight-loss diet is that the rules and suggestions were created by someone else. Not you.

To put your diet in proper perspective, let go of all the suggestions and personal rules that others have given you, and seek to discover which principles fit in with your perspective on life. Choose the foods you LOVE to eat the most.

If you make up your own rules and strategies for getting thin and staying that way, you'll be happier than those who insist that you do everything by the book.

Instead of listening to what others believe is healthy or not healthy for you, create a list of your favorite foods and work them into your current nutrition plan regardless of what that plan actually tells you to do. Don't give away your personal power to a weight-loss program.

A weight-loss diet is just a tool. You don't have to please anyone but yourself. You are not accountable to anyone else.

Overeating Tip #4: Eat Slowly and Savor Every Bite

Most people have no idea what their food tastes like. They eat while watching television, surfing the web, or watching a movie at the theater, so they never get a chance to actually savor the food.

If eating is a pleasurable experience for you, then make it important enough to be an separate activity. And while you're at it, don't gulp down your food, either.

Even if you're grabbing a mozzarella cheese stick as you're heading out the door to pick up the kids, or run some other errand, you don't have to eat it in only two bites. Your brain won't even realize that you've eaten anything.

Make sure that if you really need that snack to get you through until dinner, because you're honest-to-goodness hungry, measure it out so you know exactly how much you've eaten. Whether you're counting calories, points, or using the older Weight Watchers exchanges, there is no such thing as free food.

Zero point foods and no-exchange foods like vegetables are still providing the body with calories, so slow down and pay attention to what you're doing.
  • Was that two baby carrots you just ate, or six?
  • How many times have you gone back to the dip bowl?
It's also wise to not eat directly from the bag or bowl. Measure out a realistic serving size and stick with just that portion.

If you can't do that, if you're still hungry, then go back for more. The idea isn't to struggle with hunger or deprivation. The idea is to get to know yourself, so you'll understand why you're really going back for seconds.

Overeating Tip #5: Give Yourself Permission to Enjoy Your Food

Dieting sucks. There's no doubt about it. To overcome overeating, you have to stay conscious of what you're eating and how much, or you'll start eating mindlessly again.

But staying mindful doesn't mean that you can't let your hair down and enjoy your food. American tradition often makes food the center of attention during most holidays and social gatherings, so this tip isn't about taking that way.

Give yourself permission to enjoy what you eat, without the blame, guilt, and shame attached for eating. Create a no-deprivation policy for yourself, and sidestep the tendency the mind has to set up cravings for the foods you say you “can't” have.

When nothing is off limits, you won't be tempted to overindulge while a particular food is available. This is especially true if you stop making certain foods only available during the holidays.

Many of the gluten-free cookies I've learned to make are traditionally served at holidays and other special occasions. Since tradition is habitual, I always made several goodies whether I really wanted to eat all of them, or not.

Once made, I felt like I had to eat them all before they dried out, so they wouldn't go to waste.

To combat this tendency to overindulge by stretching the two or three batches of Christmas cookies out over a full week, I came to the realization that I can make half a recipe of cookies, cake, or cheesecake any time I want to.

I don't have to save these goodies just for the holidays. I can make them throughout the year.

What happened after making that decision?

I stopped feeling the drive to make something special for the holidays.

Although, hubby did ask for a recipe of fudge to go with the pork roast, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, and homemade gluten-free french bread that I made for Thanksgiving, I didn't make pie and I didn't make cookies because I didn't feel like it. I didn't even make cookies for Christmas this year.

That felt extremely liberating!

Since I am now free to make dessert or sweet snacks any time I want to, there was no drive to hurry up and make cookies or cake before the season disappeared. I was able to thoroughly enjoy all the food I made, and as a result, I didn't gain any weight back over the holidays.

I continued to lose weight instead.

Overeating Tip #6: Stop Using Food as a Reward

The whole “I gotta have a reward” thing comes from the primitive mind. The primitive mind is the part of the brain that controls instinctive behavior, but also takes care of the unconscious stuff like your heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and things like that.

This primitive mindset is big on rewards, so when mom or dad gave you some sort of treat for being good or to encourage you to stop crying when you were a child, it set up a reinforcement that you still might be using to soothe yourself today.

Most of us have been rewarding ourselves with sweets or carby treats for most of our lives, so reaching for something sweet when you're under stress is an extremely difficult habit to break.

The only way to disrupt automatic behavior is to reexamine where the idea that food is a good reward came from, reevaluate that belief to see if it's still working for you, and if not, then catch yourself in the act of rewarding yourself with food.

In general, this is a self-destructive habit because when done unconsciously, you're more likely to take in more calories than your body needs on a daily basis.

So, while giving you a cookie in exchange for eating that pile of peas might have seemed like a worthwhile trade-off to mom, the result of continuing to do that today can be seen on your hips and belly.

Ditching the need for rewards takes a certain degree of strength and will to confront the primitive mind. Most people don't have that degree of self-discipline, but a good alternative might be to create a list of rewards that doesn't include food, so you can use that list to pamper yourself when you need a lift.

As weight loss continues, and your self-discipline grows, you can release each of those rewards, one at a time, until you reach a point in your self development where rewards for eating on plan are no longer needed.

When you get to maintenance, there won't be food rewards or even scale victories to celebrate, so you need to find ways to enjoy life that don't include food right now.

Overeating Tip #7: Use Your Diet Plan as a Tool and Not a Rule

Merry-Go-Round Horse
Are you riding the dieting
merry-go-round hoping for change?

Weight-loss programs thrive on you NOT being successful.

That's the cold, hard truth.

If you gain the strength to see yourself as you really are and take charge of your current condition, you won't need their weight-loss program anymore. Instead of continuing to ride the dieting merry-go-round, hoping for future change, you'll be off working on something else that needs fixing.

Weight-loss companies know this, so a lot of commercial diets and weight-loss books are set up to keep you riding the emotional horse of change and hope. When you are not happy with the way things currently are, you're easy to manipulate using generic words dressed in vague meanings.

The truth is:

The greater majority of dieters fail to reach their weight-loss target, regardless of what diet plan they're following. This chronic failure provides disappointment, but you keep hanging around, trying again and again, until you finally give up on your present diet plan and go elsewhere.

Most likely, you won't quit dieting all together. You'll just switch to a different plan, resurrecting and embracing hope again, and getting back onto the horse that goes no where except in circles.

The key to being successful with any weight-loss program is to see it as a tool, rather than a set of absolute rules.

Use it as a guideline, a framework on which to build your own personalized eating plan, instead of an absolute structure that you must follow at all costs. Diet authors are not an authority on you. They don't know you.

You are your own authority, so use those strict dieting rules as a source for experimentation and tweak your eating plan, as needed, to make it work for you.

By 2007, the Atkins diet had evolved into a high-fat diet. Everywhere I went, people were telling others to eat more fat and calories if the weight wasn't coming off. No matter what type of problem a dieter was having, the answer they got was always to eat more fat.

If I had listened to what those self-appointed low-carb experts were saying, I never would have gone on to lose over 100 pounds. I would have been just as unsuccessful as many of them have been.

Instead of doing what they were doing, I threw out their false ideas about fat and calories, performing a few experiments on myself. Due to those experiments, I quickly discovered my own sweet spot for carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fat that allowed me to ditch the fat.

You Didn't Get Fat from Eating One Slice of Cake

This isn't a strategy, but it's really important to understand.

You honestly won't be able to conquer overeating unless you know what got you into this mess. The body has mechanisms to deal with occasional indulgences, but it doesn't have a good backup plan for habitual overeating.

In my own experience, maintenance calories for 180 pounds are a range, rather than an absolute number. I can eat anywhere between 2100 and 2300 calories a day and my weight would stay stable at 180 pounds. When I dropped a bit lower on the scale, I saw exactly the same thing. At 165 pounds, my maintenance calories were 1800 to 2100 per day.

The only backup plan the body actually has for consistent excess energy is to store what it can't use. Your excess body fat is stored energy.


You didn't get fat because you ate a slice of chocolate cake on your birthday.

You got fat because:

You ate pizza for Christmas Eve, cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, and snacked on candy canes and chocolates throughout the day. You ate potato salad and brownies at the company party, and treated yourself to a handful of fudge, toffee, and those cute little homemade Christmas cookies after a stressful shopping trip.

After the holidays were over, you went back for seconds and thirds at that all-you-can-eat place on New Year's Eve, to make sure you got your money's worth. You didn't want to disappoint your grandmother when she made you her famous Candy-Heart Valentine cake, so you ate the entire slice she served you, even though you weren't hungry and knew you shouldn't have.

You kept sneaking jelly beans out of your kids' Easter basket, and then didn't have the heart to pass up those yummy cream-saturated scalloped potatoes that you make for Easter every year because it just isn't Easter without them.

You got fat because spring ushers in picnics, barbecues, and colorful desserts. Summer brings beach parties, swimming pool get-togethers, and special days out with the kids. You couldn't pass up those yummy corn dogs at the fair, so you gave yourself permission to also indulge in those once-in-a-lifetime fried candy bars and homemade potato chips as well.

No matter what time of year it is, you can always find an excuse to eat. You didn't get fat because you overate two or three times a year. You got fat because you overate almost every day.

Granted, a lot of the overeating you do is unconscious.

You don't realize you're doing it. You're just living as you've always lived, doing what everyone else is doing, and it's the always part that is doing you in.

The bottom line is that most overweight individuals prefer higher calorie foods than those who are naturally thin. If you are prone to be overweight or obese, you have unconscious food habits that made you fat and are keeping you fat.

This was a difficult truth I had to face a few months ago:

When I go back to unconscious eating, I start making and serving higher calorie meals and snacks.

Even though I'd given up corn-syrup laden sodas and went back onto the diet version, I wasn't losing ANY weight! None whatsoever! So, after several weeks, I had to face myself and take a closer look at my unconscious food habits.

Instead of drawing on my body's stored energy, I was making up for those missing liquid calories by the food I was choosing to eat. I made more high-fat, high-calorie dishes than I was making when drinking regular soda because I had urges to make those things and didn't question where the ideas in my head were coming from.

Once I understood what was going on, that my primitive mindset was dictating my diet, I was able to make the appropriate changes to conquer overeating.

You might be able to do the same thing too! How?

By Picking One of the 7 Tips for Conquering Overeating and Report Back

None of these 7 tips for conquering overeating are meant to override your chosen weight-loss plan.

They are just some of the strategies I'm using myself.

All of these strategies can be easily implemented regardless of the food area you're currently restricting, so pick one tip and try using it this week to see if it helps you make better food choices, or not.

If it doesn't help, by all means, toss it out and try something else. Don't wait three months like I did when I tried Jimmy Moore's version of Nutritional Ketosis and ended up gaining 30 pounds.

Whether these tips help or not, I'd love to hear about your experience. Just leave a comment below and tell me how it went. You can also share any additional points or tips that I might have left out. I'd love to hear about those, too.


  1. Love your list Vickie. I liked your list because you can do a little of each. One thing that worked for me, at a period in time, was paying attention to only the next meal. Instituting one change at each meal. Now that you've mentioned some good tips, I'll try one or many of them at my next meal. One meal at a time seems to work better than thinking to far ahead.
    Thank you.

    1. Thanks. One meal at a time is a good idea. I like that.

  2. What an extremely insightful article. I absolutely use food as a comfort to get through the day at work. I eat at "snack time" in the morning and afternoon and at lunch time regardless of whether or not I am hungry. I am emotionally uncomfortable at work, and focusing on when and what I'm going to eat next distracts me from the reality of my situation. If I really confronted the reasons for my discomfort, I'd have to make a decision! I need to take a hard look at what is happening in my working life and fix the problem. Overeating certainly hasn't made things better.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge.

    1. Thank you so much. And thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. I was pretty shocked to discover just how many times I went to the refrigerator for comfort.


Post a Comment