Overeating can be triggered by a number of reasons, many of which are psychological. If you have trouble coping with your emotions or have an introverted personality that makes it difficult to connect and ask for help, you might end up overeating as a way to cope. Some people overeat because of an all-or-nothing attitude. If they eat a small amount of a “forbidden” food, they might have a difficult time stopping later, since they feel they’ve already blown their diet anyway.
Identify what causes you to overeat. Carry a journal with you and write down your feelings every time you feel tempted to overeat. Pay attention to what triggered those feelings. It might be a single feeling, like sadness, or you might find that you overeat when you’re stressed, angry, depressed or anxious.
Make a list of ways you can eliminate the triggers that cause you to overeat. If you overeat when you’re bored, make a list of activities you can do to entertain yourself, whether that means going window shopping or taking an evening class at a local college. If you overeat when stressed, a 15-minute yoga session, taking a bubble bath or watching a funny movie might all help you ease the tension without the help of food.
Talk to a therapist. According to Marilyn Migliore, a registered dietitian, many people overeat to fill an emotional void triggered by trauma, depression or guilt. If you were deprived of food as a child or suffered abuse that somehow involved food, you might be overeating to fill the void you had in the past. You might also overeat because you grew up around somebody who did. Talking to a therapist will help you look into those issues so you can resolve them.
Create a list of things you like and dislike about yourself. According to clinical psychologist Reginald B. Humphreys, Ph.D., low self-esteem is a common cause for overeating. If your “dislike” list is much longer than your “like” list, you might need to work on your self-esteem. NetDoctor recommends simple self-esteem boosters such as keeping a list of good things you do. Write down compliments you’ve received at work, good deeds you’ve done to help others or a particular task or skill you excel at. Post this list where you can see it regularly, as a reminder of the good things about yourself.