16 Ways to Overeat

Get to know your eating style, so you can swap out bad habits for good.

Posted May 21, 2016

S.McQuillan
Source: S.McQuillan

Lots of people overeat but one person’s overeating style can be very different from the next person’s and might have different causes. It’s important to take a look at your own individual eating style when you are trying to get to or maintain a healthier weight. Once you identify your overeating style or styles, you can start changing the specific food habits that interfere with your ability to have a healthy relationship with food. The 16 eating styles that can get in your way include:

  • Emotional eating. Emotional eating has little or nothing to do with real hunger; you are eating in response to your emotions, or how you feel in the moment. You may eat because you are bored, lonely, sad, happy, angry or afraid of something.
  • Frequently eating on the run. When you grab food on the go, you’re probably not paying attention to how much you are eating. It’s very easy to forget about food you eat on the run, and that can lead to overeating.
  • Random eating. If you have a choice, sitting down to a regularly scheduled meal or snack is physically and psychologically healthier for you than grabbing food whenever and whenever it is available.
  • Eating foods that are high in calories or fat. If you grew up eating high-calorie or high-fat foods, you may still be practicing old eating habits that are no longer considered healthful.
  • Eating a lot of junk food. If you routinely eat pastries or doughnuts for breakfast, fast food or a plate full of processed foods for lunch and dinner, and chips or more pastries for snacks, you may have a junk food habit that needs attention.
  • Overeating at every meal. Some people simply have no idea how much to eat or what a normal portion size of food looks like.
  • Eating quickly. the fast you eat, the more you’ll eat before your body senses that you are full and your brain starts sending signals that it’s time to stop eating.
  • Snacking constantly. This is less of a problem if you snack on healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you snack on junk food throughout the day, you’re filling up on foods that contribute plenty of calories but few essential nutrients and very little fiber.
  • Mindless eating. If you’re not paying attention, you may be completely unaware of the eating behavior that’s affecting your weight and your health. When you don’t think about what or how much you eat, you can mindlessly shovel food into your mouth all day and never realize that you are overeating.
  • Eating too many or too few foods from a particular food group. A diet that emphasizes or eliminates an entire food group may lack nutritional balance.
  • Weekend overeating. You’re likely to blow the benefits of “being good” all week, if you routinely eat and drink to excess on weekends.
  • Eating in front of the TV or computer. It’s never a good idea to participate in any other activity during a meal or snack, unless it’s a good conversation. It too easily turns into mindless overeating because you’re not paying attention to your food.
  • Chronic dieting to lose weight. Deprivation and semi-starvation are never conducive to developing a healthy relationship with food and very often cause even more weight gain in the long run.
  • Frequently eating out. There's nothing inherently wrong with eating at restaurants, but since you have little control over the ingredients in your food, it is important to exercise control over how much you eat. 
  • Skipping meals. If you don’t eat every 3 to 5 hours, you are likely to get too hungry and overeat at your next meal or grab the first available food you see, whether or not it is good for you.
  • Eating all the time. Some people “graze” or eating small amounts often throughout the day. If you’re struggling to get to or stay at a healthy weight, this only works if you keep track of everything you eat and how much of it you eat. Generally, people who are trying to lose or maintain weight are better off sticking to the structure of three scheduled meals and a snack or two eaten around the same time each day.

Adapted from Breaking the Bonds of Food Addiction (Alpha) by Susan McQuillan.