why can't i stop eating?

Why Can’t I Stop Eating?

Have you ever asked yourself “why can’t I stop eating”? If so you are not alone as the problem of overeating, compulsive eating or binge eating is incredibly common. It is estimated that around 13% of women engage in eating disorder behaviours and that around 8% of women will experience binge eating in their lifetime. If the eating problem is one of consuming too much food there is an incredibly old outdated assumption that dieting will fix the problem.

Dieting is a billion-dollar industry and revolves around one premise. If you eat less and restrict your food you will lose weight. Now to an extent, this is true. If we place someone who overeats into our care and we severely reduce their calories they will lose weight. What dieting doesn’t take into account is that person is likely to put all that weight on again within a reasonably short space of time and usually more on top when they return to their normal life.

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Out of Control Eating

When you ask yourself “why can’t I stop eating?”, here is what you are likely to be told:

Laziness – You are overweight because you are lazy and you can’t be bothered to try. Yet this doesn’t explain how incredibly motivated people with high flying jobs turn up at our sessions. If these people are so lazy how is it that in all other aspects of their life they are doing everything and more?

Control – If you overeat you should simply cut back because you should have control over your food and your weight. Yet why is it that the complete opposite seems true. Plenty of people have attended so-called slimming clubs multiple times and lost the weight but regained it all even after paying money and getting advice on what to eat.

Willpower – That all you need is some willpower and motivation and you can shed the pounds. Well, we can tell you that we regularly see clients who have tons of willpower. They go on liquid diets for months to lose weight and that takes a ton of effort. Yet when the liquid diet stops the pounds go back on.

These lies that are told to overweight people or overeaters have gained ground because there is a huge industry making money out of these assumptions. Yet if these slimming clubs, diet pill manufacturers and faddy diet makers were really right we would be a nation of slim people. Instead, the number of overweight people is actually increasing.

It is time for dieters to wake up, stop reading the slimming mags and stories in the press and realise that the reason you ask “why can’t I stop eating?” is far more complex and involved than simply cutting out food.

Why Can’t I Stop Eating When I’m Full?

Now let’s look at the real reasons why you may have a problem stopping eating even though you are full. Believe it or not, it does not just come down to dieting and willpower. Here are just some of the multitude of reasons that people have a problem with food. You need to tackle each of the reasons to start to make progress in your eating patterns.

Food Quality and Overeating

Yesterday one of our clients presented us with a food diary to discuss at a session. We don’t give our clients a good diary to tell them off for eating the wrong things. Instead, we use it as a tool to understand triggers for problematic eating. In the diary, the woman concerned had skipped her lunch but chose to eat 12 custard cream biscuits instead. In her mind, they were a quick and easy solution to her hunger.

Here is what we told her. The packet of biscuits in question had cost 56p in the which is around a dollar in the US. After the supermarket had taken its margin the food she had eaten was worth just a few pence. The biscuits were full of sugar and processed chemicals and just a short while later she wanted more. The nutritional value of the food was problematic.

In order to lose weight, it is important to eat nutritionally dense food. You need to eat a balance of all the food groups rather than cutting some out and you need to try and avoid highly processed food.

why can't I stop eating?

Food Planning and Overeating

We also noted a couple of other issues related to the food choice of the biscuits namely planning and finding time to eat well. The woman had been busy so she believed that the biscuits had solved the problem by being easily available and ready to eat at a moments notice. Years ago families would have had to place far more planning their meals because convenience food was not so readily available.

To stop out of control eating you need to put in place a plan to make sure good quality nutritious food is ready for you when you need it. This can be just as convenient if you batch cook or plan a little ahead. When it is ready and waiting for you just to heat up quickly then you won’t rely on the supermarket stodge.

Regular Eating

If you are a dieter you may well be in the habit of trying to eat as little as possible. So you might eat a tiny breakfast or try and skip lunch. Then you wonder why you come home and want to eat everything in the fridge.

We teach our clients the importance of regular meals instead of skipping food. You need to eat when you are hungry rather than ignoring the signals and trying to last for hours without any proper food. This never helps you to lose weight instead it makes you want to eat loads more later. In fact, this style of eating is one of the major triggers for Binge Eating Disorder.

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Sleep and Weight Loss

If you say to yourself “why can’t I stop eating?” then think about how much sleep you might have had. Poor sleep is known to disrupt your metabolism. Firstly you burn off fewer calories when you are regularly getting less sleep. Tiredness also makes you eat more as you seek energy to keep you feeling more awake. To top it all when you are tired your motivation to cook something healthy from scratch is lower so you reach out for low nutrition junk food.

We know that getting good sleep is the number one thing we start working on with our clients when they come to see us for any issue but particularly weight or overeating. When our clients get a good nights rest they become easier to work with and make changes which help them to eat in a more balanced manner.

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How Do I Stop Out of Control Eating? End Distractive Habits

A few decades ago most meals would have occurred when we were doing absolutely nothing. We would have stopped work, sat at a table and eaten our dinner. Then everything started to change with TV dinners, mobile phones, computers and gaming devices.

When we are not paying any attention to what we are eating and stop being present in that moment we lose our ability to recognise the hunger and full signals. They get lost as we are putting all our attention into doing something else. This means that if we fill a huge bowl of crisps and place it in front of you to eat whilst you are watching television you are likely to eat the whole lot (and more if we refilled it).

Now imagine we made you sit at the table and be mindful of every mouthful that you were putting in your mouth. No distractions just you concentrating on how hungry you were after each mouthful. We can guarantee you would be eating less.

Intuitive eating or mindful eating strategies stop you overeating because you finally listen to your bodies signals telling you about being full. This is why our client yesterday left some of her meal behind. There was no dieting involved she just paid attention. You can do the same by using our mindful eating worksheets to help you focus on what you are eating.

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Stop Eating Too Much By Eating Slowly

Why can’t I stop eating? Well had you ever thought that you might be eating too quickly? Many of our clients who eat too much devour their food as fast as they can never allowing their minds to catch up to discover whether they actually needed to eat it all.

Practice sitting down at a table to eat and slow down the entire process of eating your meals. When you do that you allow yourself to register what is actually happening in your stomach and eat less.

Portion Size and Overeating

Too many of us have got into the habit of putting too much food on our plates when we have a meal. Our portion sizes have got bigger and bigger over the years. We might not want to eat everything but we might have been told by our parents to be thankful there is food and to eat every last morsel before we leave the table. This is a bad habit that continues.

Plus when you go to food outlets their portion sizes are out of control. When the food is right in front of you it becomes too easy to eat it all even when you don’t need it. We tell our clients to use portion plates or buy smaller sizes and see how they feel. We don’t ask them to diet but we do ask them to eat the smaller size first and then only if they know they are still hungry move to the next size up.

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Alcohol and Overeating

More and more of us are drinking alcohol regularly and that can cause major issues when we try and change our eating habits. There is a good reason that people head for a curry or a kebab after a night of drinking because it makes them hungry. Plus the next day the dehydration and hangover from alcohol make us want to fill up with salty, fatty or carb-laden food.

You can explore the link between alcohol and weight in our article on the subject. But you need to understand that when you say to yourself “why can’t I stop eating?”. Ask yourself if you have been drinking the night before. If so it will take you 24 hours or more to return to normal eating patterns. Going forward resolve to moderate your alcohol intake so you don’t end up in a continual cycle of overeating from drink.

What is Emotional Eating?

Finally, I left one of the biggest reasons for overeating to last and that is the huge topic of emotional eating. Those diet clubs rarely explore or go in-depth into the emotions that can fuel you craving and eating too much food. Yet just about every one of our clients has an emotional problem related to food as well as some of the topics that we have mentioned above.

The biggest emotional issue is stress. When you suffer from too much stress you find ways to manage the problem. Some people might drink more to switch off, some might do exercise but the vast majority turn to food as a coping mechanism. Food becomes a source of comfort and also a way of switching off from uncomfortable thoughts or feelings.

As an example one of our clients told recognised through our therapy that a booked unpleasant podiatrist procedure had made her eat a huge amount of cake to make her feel better before the appointment. When questioned it turned out she didn’t really like her podiatrist and the procedure usually hurt. Our simple solution was to find someone else. The answer was never in the cake but in finding someone who could do the work without hurting her and who made her feel comfortable.

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Not Hungry But Want to Eat All The Time?

Stress is of course just one emotion but there are many others that may link to our food choices and our need to eat to distract ourselves from what is going on in our heads. The food is a coping mechanism but as demonstrated above it never solves the real problem it just is a short term method of switching off.

When you ask yourself “Why can’t I stop eating?” start to think of the emotions that might be driving your food choices. Here are just some that we encounter regularly:

  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Feeling not good enough
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration

If you can’t find the emotion that is driving your need to eat then perhaps we can help. Hypnosis is a great tool that helps to relax your mind and enables you to discover what might be going on in your subconscious that is bothering you. The hypnotic state allows these thoughts to come more easily to the surface and once they are identified therapy can be aimed at the problem.

Compulsive Eating Therapy

Compulsive eating therapy helps you to stop asking yourself “why can’t I stop eating” and helps you find the answers you are looking for. When you know what is driving your problem with food it becomes so much easier to put in place strategies to create positive change.

So next time you want to reach for that diet sheet or cut back on your calories stop and take a different approach. Compulsive eating and binge eating therapy can help you to look at things in a completely different way. For more information about our programs or to book a discovery call simply fill in the form below for more details.

More Articles About Overeating

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5 Binge Eating Triggers That are Making You Eat

5 Binge Eating Self-help Books to Aid Recovery

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Martina McKeough
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Why Can't I stop Eating?
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Why Can't I stop Eating?
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Discover why you can't stop eating even sometimes when you are full. Learn more about emotional eating and how it can cause you to overeat.
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Rewire The Mind
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