How To Fix – 11 Surprising Reasons You Accidentally Overeat

May 19, 2019Hunger & Fullness

Overeating is a real problem for many of us as we learn to eat intuitively… and for good reason. Because there are many, many different things that can affect our ability or desire to hear and respond to our fullness cues.

Either way, the real question is – why do I eat too much and how the heck do I fix it? So here are the solutions to 11 reasons that we might be accidentally over-eating. Do a couple of things:

a) Look through the list and see which ones apply to you.
b) Pick the most significant one for you (share it in our facebook group on this post)
c) Focus on working through your most significant one first with the solution I’ve provided.

Are you ready? Well let’s get going…

11 Reasons Why You Accidentally Over-Eat:



Simple but true. If you let yourself get too hungry, ravenously hungry, or OVER-hungry, you know what happens? You tip over into that place of primal hunger – where you feel like you could eat a horse! Your body is in survival mode and it will push you to eat as much as possible to fend off starvation.

SOLUTION: Eat when you have a gentle hunger, don’t delay until you’re over-hungry.

#2 You’re Not Eating Enough During The Day


If you don’t eat enough food during the day, your body is going to push you to load up with a pile of food in the evening. So the problem is not the over-eating at night-time, it’s the UNDER-eating during the day (especially if you’re trying to restrict and diet during the day).

SOLUTION: Make sure you’re eating to the point of comfortable fullness during the day.

SOLUTION+: Also check out this post: Mini-Training on Honouring Your Fullness

#3 You Eat Too Fast


It takes time for your stomach to feel fullness – about 20 minutes. So if you finish a full plate of food within 10 minutes there’s a good chance you won’t have given your body enough time to sense and let you know it’s full part-way through that plate.

SOLUTION: Eat your food slowly – try to make main meals last 20 minutes or more.

#4 You’re Distracted While Eating


If you’re watching TV, scrolling on your phone, reading or book or generally not focused on eating, you are not going to be focused on listening and responding to your body’s signals that it’s nearing fullness and you should stop eating. So you’ll end up eating more than you need.

SOLUTION: Try to eat your main meals mindfully – without TV, phones, books or other distractions around.

#5 You Feel You Have To Finish Everything On Your Plate


Childhood food rules can become a real problem when we grow up – the main one being “finish everything on your plate.” This taught us to ignore our fullness cues – the most accurate indicator of how much to eat. Now when older we feel seriously uncomfortable at the prospect of leaving uneaten food on the plate – so we eat past fullness to ensure the plate is empty.

SOLUTION: Challenge yourself to leave 1-2 bites of food on your plate at EVERY meal-time until you break through this discomfort.

#6 You’re An Emotional Eater


If you’re eating for emotional reasons, there’s a good chance you’re eating more food than you need – because you’re likely eating when you’re not hungry.

SOLUTION: Understand and resolve the real issues that cause your emotional eating – check out our Mini-Course on Emotional Eating.

SOLUTION+: Try using a mindfulness app daily for a 5-10 minute guided meditation, this has been shown to reduce emotional eating.

#7 You’ve Dieted So Long You Can’t Feel
Your Hunger & Fullness Cues


If you’re dieted and ignored your hunger cues for years and years (or decades and decades) your hunger and fullness cues will fade away. They will return in time, but it just takes time and practice and a really concerted focus on listening out for them.

SOLUTION: Make sure you eat every 4-5 hours at least, until you can feel your hunger and fullness cues. This will prevent you becoming over-hungry.

SOLUTION+: Try practicing drinking 2 glasses of water in one sitting to see if you can feel your fullness.

#8 Your Self-Care Isn’t Good


If you’re over-tired, stressed, anxious and worn out your body is going to be in a state where you can’t feel and rely on your hunger and fullness cues due to the stress.

SOLUTION: Self-care needs to be a priority – rest, relaxation, sleep, physical activity to unwind, all need to become a high priority if you want your body to unwind and be able to hear your hunger and fullness cues. Use the linked checklist to see how you’re doing.

#9 You Hate Your Body


Sad but true. When we hate our body or parts of our body, we can end up becoming really disconnected from ‘feeling’ our body. That means we unconsciously ignore the signals it sends. And those include the very signals that we want to hear – like hunger and fullness.

SOLUTION: Focus on improving your self-compassion. That doesn’t have to mean loving your body today or tomorrow, but it does mean learning now to respect your body and treat it kindly.

#10 You’re Restricting Certain Foods


Whichever foods you restrict, you’re more likely to crave. And that means when you finally give in and eat them you’re likely to feel guilt and regret and then decide to eat as much as possible of that food because “tomorrow I’ll stop eating it” again.

SOLUTION: Give yourself permission to eat all foods. Start with one restricted food at a time – give yourself permission to eat it freely and go from there.

#11 You’re With a Big Group of People


We eat more when we eat with one or more people – it’s a fact! The more people, the more we eat, maybe because we tend to eat for a longer time and we’re a bit distracted with conversations.

SOLUTION: Unless you’re eating every meal in a big group – don’t worry about this. It’ll even itself out over the next day or two. But if you’d like to focus on something – focus on mindfully eating, so you’re listening to your body and experiences as you eat.

And on that note – try not to worry or judge yourself for overeating. Creating a happy and healthy relationship with food is a life journey – it has twists and turns and sometimes we take a fork in the road that turns out to be a dead-end. But wherever we go we’re learning through our experiences.

See each occasion when you overeat as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and your relationship with food.

Jennifer xo.