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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tips on How to Stop Overeating

Acknowledging that you have a  problem with overeating is the first step to dealing with your problem. But it's usually not enough to overcome a habit of overeating.  Having a plan for how you're going to cope with the times you feel triggered to overeat and having a support system makes it much more likely that you'll succeed.

Tips on How to Stop Overeating

Start By Seeing Your Doctor
While psychological issues play a role in a habitual overeating, first you want to make sure that you don't have an underlying medical condition that contributes to your cravings and weight gain.  So, it's best to start any plan to overcome overeating by having a thorough medical examination to deal with any possible medical issues.

See a Nutritionist
Many people who overeat have never developed healthy eating habits.  If this is your problem, you can ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist who can help you develop healthy eating habits.

Identify Your Triggers to Overeating
For most people, there are certain emotions, situations, people or circumstances which cause them to want to overeat.

Tips on How to Stop Overeating: Identify Your Triggers to Overeating

Knowing in advance what triggers your overeating is essential.  Making a commitment not to overeat, while important, isn't enough to help you overcome the triggers that will undermine your commitment.

Plan in Advance How You Will Deal With Triggers to Overeating
Making a plan for how you will deal with triggers to overeating makes it much more likely that you'll succeed in not overeating.

Here's an Example of How Planning for Triggers is Helpful:
Jane, who struggled with overeating since she was a child, knew that whenever she went home to visit her family, the tension between her and her mother triggered her to overeat during the visit and for several days after she got home.

Jane prepared for these visits by making sure that she talked about it in her Overeaters Anonymous (O.A.) support group.  She also scheduled a meeting with her O.A. sponsor before and after her visit.  By "book ending" the visit home with this support, she felt much more confident about handling the stressors that might come up during the visit home.

Part of Jane's preparation involved extra self care before and after her visit home.  So, she made sure she got plenty of sleep the night before, ate nutritiously beforehand, and carried healthy snacks with her so she was not tempted to binge on junk food or overeat.

Jane was aware that certain topics would lead to arguments with her mother, so she steered clear of those topics and tried to make the day as pleasant as possible.

Jane also knew her limits.  She knew that she could usually get through a couple of days at home but, at this stage her recovery from overeating, the third day was usually too stressful for her, so she limited her time to two days.

If despite her best efforts, Jane and her mother began arguing, Jane would take a "time out" rather than continuing to engage in an argument that was sure to make her want to overeat to deal with the stress.

Progress, Not Perfection: Start Over Again After a "Slip"
Many people who are in recovery for overeating feel that they must be "perfect" with regard to diet and their plan not to overeat.

Tips on How to Stop Overeating: Progress, Not Perfection

Since there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to human beings, this is a recipe for failure.  Holding on too rigidly to what you "should" do or how you feel you "must" behave, puts too much pressure and stress on you and is likely to lead to overeating.

Rather than trying to be perfect, it's better to allow yourself to be human and to make mistakes.

The most important thing to do after you've gone off your plan is not to berate yourself so that you feel so overcome with shame that you want to continue overeating.  It's far better to acknowledge that you had a "slip" and recommit to your plan.

Get Support: Overeaters Anonymous
Many people find the support they get from the 12 Step meetings of Overeaters Anonymous to be helpful in overcoming overeating as well as eating disorders like binge eating, bulimia and anorexia.  The group meetings offer mutual support among other people who are struggling with many of the same issues.

Get Support: Overeaters Anonymous
You can also get a sponsor who has been successfully working the program.

Sponsors are usually not trained mental health professionals.  They are peers in the program who, like you, often continue to struggle with food issues, but who have learned through the program how to cope and make use of O.A. and the 12 Step concepts.

When choosing a sponsor, I recommend that you choose someone who can help you work through the 12 Steps of O.A. and who is not rigid about a food plan.

Get Support: Psychotherapy
Although O.A. has been helpful for thousands of people, O.A. is not for everyone.

Many people find it more helpful to work with a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in helping people overcome addictive habits.

Even people who attend O.A. often attend therapy in addition to going to the 12 Step meetings to deal with the deeper, personal underlying issues that O.A. members and sponsors are not qualified to handle.

You're Not Alone
The most important thing to realize is that you're not alone.  Millions of people have stood where you are now and have learned to cope with a tendency to overeat, and you can too.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my web site:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me:

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