“Overeating,” Part I: My Experience

     I want to spend three blog posts talking about overeating – why do we do it? is it normal? how much is okay? how is it connected to binge eating?

     In this post, I’m just going to briefly describe my experience with simple overeating, if I should even call it that. I consider all of my eating to be normal, even if sometimes I eat slightly past a perfect ideal of satiety. I think the term “overeating” can have a negative quality, and is connected in many people’s minds to eating disorders and compulsive actions. I call it “overeating” for lack of a better word, but maybe there should be a better word, because I’ve found that the concept of “some overeating being normal” doesn’t feel right to some people.

     The “overeating” I’m speaking of is fully chosen, in balance, and infrequent. It is not something I feel driven to do, or feel guilty about doing. I haven’t been uncomfortably full in 8 and 1/2 years, nor would I have any desire to be. But, have I been full after a nice dinner at a restaurant?  Absolutely.  Have I eaten a dessert even after I was satisfied from my meal, simply because it was delicious?  Yes!  Have I been physically satisfied, yet chosen to have a few more bites of a favorite dish?  Yep!  Have I been offered a snack when not physically hungry, and ate it anyway, just to be social or because it looked good?  Yep!  On the flip side, have I not eaten enough in a day because I was so busy, or hadn’t gone to the grocery, or because I didn’t have as much of an appetite? Certainly.

     If I ventured to guess, I probably eat a bit more than I *think* my body needs about 2-3% of the time, and the same probably goes for eating less (I am just talking about amount of food here, I’m not saying I eat healthy food 94%-96% of the time).  I say *think* my body needs because there is no perfect blueprint on what amount is exactly right for you. We all have to make educated guesses for ourselves, based on our body’s signals, and what we know to be reasonable/healthy portions.  It’s about balance and choice.  When we know we are choosing to have a little more, “overeating” is much less likely to lead to those “I’ve blown it” thoughts that can trigger binge urges in those trying to recover from bulimia/BED.    

7 thoughts on ““Overeating,” Part I: My Experience

  1. My problem is that overeating frequently leads to bingeing. It starts off with eating a little more than I think I should, then I tell myself “this is okay; it’s normal to overeat occasionally” and it just gradually turns into a binge. I realize that at some point, what I’m telling myself starts coming from the lower brain, but once I’m already overeating, it’s so easy to let the overeating turn into a binge. Any tips to prevent this?

    1. I understand your concern, and you are definitely not alone in this. Once you’ve been binge-free for a while, occasional overeating won’t cause this same reaction; but for now, there is a strong association there. Until you are confident in your ability to recognize/resist binge urges, my suggestion would be…as soon as you hear that voice that says “it’s okay to overeat,” take a step back while you still feel in control (higher brain still in the driver’s seat) and ask yourself how much you truly think is okay. Then, set a mental limit before continuing to eat. You may want to give this some thought before you are actually in the situation, just to have a general idea of how much food you’d consider normal. It’s an individual decision, there is no one right or wrong answer. You can ask yourself or visualize what amount would feel reasonable, enjoyable, and allow you to feel good afterward.

      Then, when your lower brain urges you to eat more than that – that’s what you will label the neurological junk. At first, your lower brain will likely present it’s case frequently of why you should eat more than your limit. But, it should taper off quickly and then overindulging now and then shouldn’t cause a problem.

  2. Hey Kathryn, just wanted to drop you a note and say I’m so glad you’re blogging again! Your book changed my life…I’ve been binge-free for a few months and I’m sloooowly getting my life together. Thanks so much! :)

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