I think I have a problem with overeating. What can I do?
The first thing is to figure out if your overeating is something that happens only once in a while or often. We all eat too much every now and then, like on holidays.
But if you're overeating often, here are some things that might help:
- Don’t skip meals. You are more likely to overeat when you are super hungry.
- Schedule 3 meals and 1 healthy snack a day to help manage your hunger.
- Put your food on a plate or in a bowl and sit down at the table to eat — don't eat out of a bag or container.
- Don't eat meals or snack while doing something else, like being on your phone, watching TV, or doing homework.
- Slow down. Eating more slowly can help because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. Sometimes taking a break before going for seconds can keep you from eating too much.
Pay attention to when you feel hungry and stop when you are full. If you find yourself eating when you're not hungry, try to find other ways to keep yourself busy, like taking a walk or talking to a friend.
Binge eating is different from simply overeating. People with binge eating disorder feel a powerful urge to overeat. They regularly eat large amounts of food and can’t stop eating, even when they feel uncomfortably full. With binge eating, a person feels out of control and powerless to stop eating while they're doing it. Then, they may feel guilty or ashamed afterward.
If you think you may have an overeating problem, talk to a parent or doctor. Treatment for binge eating disorder includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and therapy. Getting help early makes it more likely that a person can get better before it causes health problems.
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: March 2022