Four tips for breaking the habit of compulsive overeating

July 22, 2013 - Psychology

174190067_SmallCompulsive overeating can be every bit as addictive as alcohol or drugs. It’s behaviour like this which leads to putting on weight and it can be a hard cycle to get out of. So, just how do we break the habit? LighterLife’s psychotherapist Mandy Cassidy offers her top four tips.

1. Pause for thought
Whenever you’re just about to overeat, pause. Stop and think about what is really going on. How are you feeling? Are you feeling angry, bored, lonely? Other than eating, what could you do to manage this feeling and handle it better?

2. How do you feel?
Work out what it is you’re using food for. Is it a substitute for company, love, a relationship? Is it to calm you down, to make you feel less anxious?

3. Do something
Even the smallest action is a step in the right direction. Going for a walk can help dissipate any stress chemicals coursing through your body. If you’re feeling anxious, breathe deeply for a few minutes, listen to a favourite song or talk to a friend.

4. Watch your thinking
Often when you’re having a strong emotional reaction you’re thinking in a way that is exaggerated or unreal. You may say to yourself, ‘I can’t cope’, ‘i’m too tired to cook’ or ‘Just one won’t matter.’ Challenge your thoughts by testing them out against reality. Often a strong reaction will lessen if you allow yourself to think things through in a rational way and calm down.

Need help to lose weight? LighterLife offers support to help you change the way you think about food. Visit for more information.