Overeating or under-eating? It’s one of the most controversial topics in the diet and weight loss industry.
Most people believe the real cause of weight gain is overeating — eating more calories than you need to. This is why one of the first things people do when they want to lose weight is to go on a calorie-restricted diet, and why the diet and weight loss industry encourages this.
While this may sound good on paper, the fact is that under-eating is the quickest way to guarantee that you will end up overeating.
It’s a concept that we refer to as “eating less leads to consuming more”. And this paradox is one of the most common weight loss blind spots that stop people from losing weight.
What causes overeating?
However, restricting food is like a clock pendulum that swings from side to side. When you under-eat (cut calories) this causes the pendulum to swing hard to the side of restriction. People can only stay on this side of food restriction for a short time by using willpower. Once that willpower is gone though, that’s when they fall off the wagon, because pendulums can’t swing one way and not come back to the other side.
After bingeing, you usually feel disappointed, frustrated, and ashamed. In order to soothe your feelings, you eat even more food, so the binge eating turns into emotional eating. And before you know it, you have consumed way more food than you intended to. In other words, you have overeaten. This is what we mean by eating less leads to consuming more.
What often happens in an attempt to counter the excess calories that were consumed, is that you restrict your food even further. But just like a pendulum, the harder you swing to one side (restriction), the harder you swing back to the other side (overeating). This means that the more you restrict food, the more you will binge.
This explains why so people who use diets to lose weight, are constantly going ‘on and off track’, and why they believe that if they can ‘just eat better’, they’ll be able to lose weight.
How to stop overeating
You overcome overeating by ensuring that you eat enough food throughout the day. But it’s not just a matter of eating more food. You need to understand why you’re not eating enough food. This is referred to as a weight-loss blind spot and is one of the reasons why you need to work with a coach.
You see overeating and under-eating is just a reflection of your deeper habits. Remember, it’s never what you do that matters but why you do it. We explain this in more detail in our blog The solution to your bodyweight problem is not in addressing what you do, but why you do it.
So you need to understand why you restrict food in the first place.
Understand why you restrict food
Most of the time, you’ll restrict food to alleviate the guilt you feel, and to make up for eating what you consider to be ‘bad’ food. This usually occurs when you eat out of convenience (i.e. grabbing what you can) because you’re not prepared.
For example, you may end up eating whatever you can lay your hands on for dinner, even if it’s a packet of chips because you haven’t had time to do grocery shopping or prepare a healthy meal. While there’s nothing wrong with eating a packet of chips for dinner if that’s what you want to do, it’s a problem if you’re eating them because you have no other food in the house.
So, why don’t you have time to go grocery shopping or do meal prep? Because you’re too busy doing other things — whether it’s working long hours, doing things for other people (people-pleasing), scrolling through social media or gossiping with your friends.
And the real reason you do these things is because you haven’t learned to put yourself first.
However, when you learn to put yourself first, you’ll prioritise grocery shopping and meal prepping, and you’ll have plenty of ‘good’ food on hand. This means you won’t eat out of convenience and therefore won’t feel guilty about what you’ve eaten. If you don’t feel guilty about eating, then you won’t feel the need to restrict food. And if you’re eating enough because you’re no longer restricting food, the binges will naturally disappear.
What should you eat?
At Imani Tribe, we don’t subscribe to the diet and weight loss industry’s philosophy that foods are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and that you need to restrict ‘bad’ food in order to lose weight. Labeling food is just a concept of diet culture.
Of course, food has different benefits, but these benefits depend on the purpose they serve. Food should be enjoyed not just because of its nutritional value, but because it tastes good, smells good, looks good, makes us feel good, and brings people together.
The best weight loss results come from learning to eat and enjoy all foods without feeling guilty. Yes, even ice cream, chocolate, and cake.
It means eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
It means allowing yourself to eat your favourite foods and giving yourself permission to eat out, but setting boundaries around these things. We explain this in more detail in our blog Forget diets and food rules. Try this weight loss tip instead.
Eating for weight loss means eating a wide range of foods and learning to have fun with your food by discovering new ingredients and new recipes. (If you want some inspiration, why not check out our Recipe Book, containing over 100 easy, family-friendly meals)
Finally, it involves collecting data — data about what you ate, when you ate it, your hunger levels beforehand, your hunger levels afterward, and how that food made you feel. When you are aware of your eating and how certain foods make you feel, you’ll have more clarity around your eating patterns, and you’ll have the power to make choices around what you eat, instead of letting your habits get the best of you.
You can read more about how our philosophies are different in our blog Weight loss philosophies that will change your life.
How DATSTM Program helps
The DATSTM Personal Coaching Program will help you develop a good relationship with food, so you can ditch the diet mindset and feel free around food without feeling guilty. It will help you learn how to eat without dieting and bingeing, how to develop a greater awareness of your eating and your habits around food. It will also help you develop new habits so you can lose weight and gain the body, confidence, and lifestyle you want.
DATSTM will give you the knowledge, systems, tools, and skills so you can lose weight and keep it off — even on your worst days.
- Most people believe that overeating is the reason for weight gain, so they go on a diet to restrict food, in order to lose weight.
- The truth is that overeating is actually caused by under-eating (food restriction).
- The more you restrict food, the more you will binge or emotionally eat (overeat).
- The secret to overcoming overeating is to eat enough food to keep you full and satisfied.
- The best weight loss results come when you can embrace all foods and still make room for your favourite treats without guilt.
- When you don’t deprive yourself (physically and emotionally) of food, your binge eating will stop.
- Our DATSTM Personal Coaching Program will help you develop a good relationship with food, so you can ditch the diet mindset and stop the dieting/bingeing cycle.
- Our DATSTM Program gives you the knowledge, systems, tools, and skills to help you lose weight and keep it off, even on your worst days.