What to do if you can’t stop eating

Written by Janelle Holden

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I find myself filling my plate with turkey and leftovers once again.

“It’s just so good,”  I tell my husband.

And it is.

It is good. All of the food we made was gluten-free, homemade, and delicious.

But after the third or fourth plate I found myself wondering why I couldn’t seem to go more than an hour without wanting more. In the years since I healed my relationship with food, I rarely overeat.

But when I do, I no longer make myself wrong for doing it. Instead, I get really curious about WHY I’m doing it because I know it’s really not about the food or a lack of willpower. It’s about something deeper that’s going on in my life.

When I see overeating as a symptom, rather than as a character flaw, then I’m in a place to be aware, explore it, and let it teach me something.

In this case, it taught me more about my own rhythm. I’m heaviest in the spring, and lightest in the fall. I eat more the day of Thanksgiving and the day after then I normally do. I also eat a lot more if I have been “deprived.” The week before Thanksgiving I was so busy that I skipped meals and scavenged for food rather than having a real meal. I had felt deprived and as a result, my body wanted to catch up.

This realization alone was enough to quell the voice inside that said … “more.”

Three easy tools to use when you feel like you just can’t stop filling your plate:

1. Journal: Put down the fork and pick up your pen. Answer the question: “Outside of eating, what feels out of control in my life?” If you’re eating to feel better, then you’re probably eating to feel better about the area in your life where you feel least in control. It could be a work situation, a relationship, financial, health, or any other area that is stressful to you. Focus on accepting what’s not in your control (what other people do), and take the best action steps that are in your own control (what you do, say, think, and feel).

2. Add more pleasure: If food is your main source of pleasure, and you’re feeling overworked, overtired, overwhelmed, or overdone then taking away your one source of pleasure (eating) is not going to work. Skip the detox, fast, and diet plan and go straight for the five senses. Make a list of everything you love that pleases your five senses and start adding one thing a day that feels pleasurable to you. Diversify your joy.

3. Pray: I hesitated to add this tool because I have clients of all faiths (including none-at-all,) and I’m not advocating for you to change your religious beliefs to change your eating. But … I deeply believe that we can’t do this alone, and there comes a time when we need to surrender and ask for help. Whether it’s God, the Universe, Your Higher Power, or whatever name you want to give it … sincerely ask for a power greater than yourself to help you do what you could never do alone. And watch the healing happen in your life.

I’m curious. What do you do when you can’t seem to stop eating? Please share by leaving a comment.


About Janelle

Janelle Holden has spent hundreds of hours coaching people world-wide with celiac disease and food sensitivities how to transition to a gluten-free diet, stop struggling with food, travel with food sensitivities, and do more of the things they love. She is the author of, "Six steps to grab control of your diet and love what you eat" and an award-winning journalist, international coach, and speaker.

2 Responses to “What to do if you can’t stop eating”

  1. Myriah Marsh December 2, 2013 1:45 pm #

    I notice if I am snacking when not hungry I go grab an oiled tooth pick to give me something to chew on.

    • Janelle December 2, 2013 6:51 pm #

      Great tip! Some of us just need to have something like that.

Leave a Reply