We all do it? Eat until we can eat no more. Is this a bad habit or is there more to it than we realise? There can be many reasons that we overeat. Food can be a comfort for emotional issues such as a negative body image, stress, anger and boredom so we turn to food for consolation. Overeating can be habitual too. We tend to live a sedentary lifestyle in our modern day life, working all day (perhaps in an office) and then our evenings are spent in front of the TV snacking. We blame food for being an addiction. But maybe it's the 'eating' that has become the addiction?

Thoughts on Food

Food.......where does your mind wander when this word is mentioned? Food has become a profitable consumer product. There are adverts everywhere you look. Tantalising T.V commercials, teasing magazine articles, tempting pop-up online adverts. You cannot avoid the sights, sounds and the smell of food. Our bodies are tested 24 hours a day trying to resist temptation. We no longer use food as a fuel for our bodies to live and function. Yes, it is nice to enjoy the foods we eat but we need food for energy and we need to remember when to stop. The 'diet' industry have us all hooked on various ways to lose weight and what we should eat whether it is counting calories, eating as much as you like of certain foods, restricting others, only eating certain foods at certain times, macronutrients and micronutrients. We have tried them all AND this is the problem. The cycle of diet, no diet, guilt, binge. Oh what the hell "I will start again on Monday". Then destruction!!

Habitual Eating

Habits are easy to form but a little harder to break. Habitual eating can be defeated with new habits or 'rescheduling' activities to avoid slipping back into your 'old ways'. Mindless eating in front of the TV, eating cake at 4pm, late night snacks when you come home from a night out. These are all bad habits that can be exchanged for 'good habits'. Think of the things that you love to do and have no time in the day to do them? Or the things you would love to do or enjoy doing but feel you have more important things to do before your own pleasure and entertainment. For me it's writing, fresh air, reading and researching. These are my pleasures. My projects (that I enjoy doing) but feel I have no time to do, are sorting my travel photos into albums, learning a language and researching destinations I would love to travel to and explore. I no longer watch the T.V (maybe a video or film occasionally), this used to be the time I would eat mindlessly. I now do the things I love to do and have broken my destructive habits in the process. This is my own path but you need to choose yours. Think about the times that your habitual eating habits occur and try to replace them with something you enjoy or a project you long to do.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is a lot harder to control. Food is the comfort for so many of our feelings, some very deep rooted. Food is also responsible for our guilt. Comforting at the beginning but self loathing to follow. We were taught from a young age that overeating is 'greedy' even 'disgusting' and sweet food is a 'treat' or a 'reward' for 'being good'. There is no surprise when our emotions are out of control and we reach for food (we feel the need to treat ourselves at our lowest moments) and then despise ourselves for being 'greedy and disgusting'. The cycle is so damaging. In this unkind society of 'looking for perfection' and disregard for those who are not flawless just push these 'deep rooted' issues to uncontrollable levels.This severely affects individuals mental health and emotional concerns. If you suffer from emotional overeating you must always remember:

1. You do not have 100% control over your food consumption and weight gain.

2. It is not your fault for overeating and gaining weight

3. It is not purely will power that controls moderation, weight loss and nutritional health.

There are some remedies to help those who struggle with emotional overeating such as finding the 'triggers' that drive you to overeat. Holistic remedies can help with anger issues, boredom and stress and with practice, can calm these 'triggers'. Counselling can support and advise for deep rooted issues.

Diets and Overeating

With the publications of 'ever changing' Government guidelines and the promotion of obesity, diabetes and heart health campaigns......no wonder there is a 'boom' in the diet industry. Are diets good for us? The answer is 'No'. Diets are rigid and normally contain 'restrictions' of some foods. This automatically labels certain foods as 'bad'. This is not educating us in any way. Food is not 'good' or 'bad' and should never be deemed as either. We need to learn which foods are nutritional, which foods our own bodies require and re-educate ourselves on when we have eaten enough. Any restrictions we place on food will lead to a desire for something forbidden. This is the sole reason why a diet will work for a while and continue on to failure. The best attack on eating addictions is to find the foods that we enjoy eating mixed with nutritious plant based, fibrous foods, for a filling and healthy lifestyle. Enjoy treats that are sweet or savoury in small amounts but do not ban them completely. It's so pleasing when a celebrity promotes healthy eating rather than endorsing a 'fad diet'. Dolly Parton for example, has a history of dieting and binge eating. She has been all shapes and sizes and she is quite open about her struggles with food addiction. She is now happy, healthy and 'addiction' free after realising that diets are not the answer:

"She eats whatever she has a craving for in VERY SMALL Quantities. She says that the only good diet is the one you can stick with. This was the compromise that “Dolly the movie star was able to make with Dolly the pig that has kept both sides reasonably satisfied.” Dolly Parton Weight-Loss Secrets

Healthy eating is a lifestyle. There are many different ways to eat, foods to choose, times to eat and cooking preferences......these are the choices we need to make. One style of eating will suit one person, yet not suit another. There is no 'one suits all' approach with nutrition. Portion sizes, fibre, fruit and vegetables, proteins and healthy fats will feed the body with the right amount of food for energy and repair whilst stabilising body weight. Make food choices and healthy habits with your lifestyle in mind, so you are able to manage meals, cravings and snacks without causing difficulties or stress.


The reasons for overeating can be caused by several issues. Our emotions can lead us to comfort eating, which initially helps to sooth our feelings but can actually enhance the problem with self-loathing. Sometimes we are not even hungry but constant visuals on T.V, social media and magazines entice and tempt us to eat when we do not need to. Continual dieting leads to a destructive cycle of overeating and restrictions. Finding a healthy way of eating to suit our lifestyle, including all the foods we enjoy and find pleasure in every meal we prepare, is the best 'diet' we can reward our bodies. No food is a 'bad' food and should not be labelled as such. If we crave a certain food, we should have just a little of 'what we fancy' rather than ban it totally. Try to exchange habitual eating for good healthy habits and break the cycle of guilt.

Author's Bio: 

Catherine is a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer and founder of Healthy Forever Fitness Motivation. https://www.healthyforeverfitnessmotivation.co.uk/
Her mission is to help everyone stay active and live a healthy and happy life. Catherine promotes all things 'positive' and believes that all aspects of health can work together in harmony. A healthy body and mind, together with good nutrition will achieve optimal health