How to Stop Overeating When You Feel Full

Are you one of the many people who feel compelled to eat more when you're full?

Posted May 27, 2019

The idea that being too full could be a binge-eating trigger seems counterintuitive, yet for many people, it definitely is the case! It doesn’t make sense until you place it in context.

Most binge eaters aren’t only addicted to overeating, they’re addicted to over-dieting too. By alternately binge eating and then desperately trying to make up for it with various forms of restriction, they keep their bodies in a “feast-or-famine” emergency mode at virtually all times.

When your brain thinks it lives in an environment where it may have to go for long periods of time without access to vital food and nutrients, it only makes sense that it would say, “We’d better hoard food now,” the moment it was available. Being too full is one such signal. How could you get too full if food weren’t available?

Therefore, the best solution is not some magic mantra you repeat at the moment you feel the urge to binge, because you ate a little too much. Rather, in my experience with hundreds of clients, taking yourself out of feast-and-famine mode entirely by supplying your body with a regular, reliable course of calories and nutrients is much more effective. This way, your brain no longer feels the urgent need to hoard food when it's available.

This means you need to eat breakfast the day after a binge, even if you don't feel like it. And the next day, and the next, and the next. Three meals per day, no fasting, no skipping meals. At least not for the first six to 12 months when you're breaking the cycle. And before you ask, please know that I don't dispute the medical benefits of intermittent fasting (or longer fasts, for that matter); I'm just saying they can trigger the binge mechanism in binge eaters, so it's difficult to nurture your new healthy eating habits and fast simultaneously. I believe that breaking the binge habit is much more important unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.

If you need to lose weight, you can still use this strategy. Just calculate a small caloric deficit using one of the nutritional calculators online and/or by consulting with a licensed dietitian or another medical professional. You'd still eat three meals per day.

Generally speaking, I find if people aren’t losing more than a pound or two per week, they can more easily manage the impulse to binge when they feel too full. I much prefer the lower end of the range. Remember, direction is more important than speed. It may feel like that's not fast enough, but the truth is, if you're prone to binge eating, the fastest way to lose weight is slowly, because people often bounce back if they try to take off weight too quickly.

The last thing you may want to consider is that there is a mental and physical high associated with both the overeating and the dieting part of the feast-and-famine cycle. So part of what you’ll have to get used to is a more even, contented kind of energy, rather than the manic roller coaster you’ve become accustomed to while alternatively binging and restricting.

I hope that makes sense.  And I hope it helps!

References