Exercises to Stop Overeating

Part 3: Exercises to Stop Overeating

Exercise 1 - 4

1. General Situation - anxiety: Any time you overeat, you are trying to soothe yourself. Often overeating works, numbing your emotions. You may even think you feel safe or calm as you approach emotional oblivion.

Exercise: Ask yourself:

  • Where do I need to feel safe or calm in my life?
  • Where do I need to accept my powerlessness?
  • Where do I need to develop and exercise my power?

Exercises to stop overeating. If you overeat to comfort yourself, are numbing your emotions, are depressed and overwhelmed, read this.For example, are you trying to change people or events which are beyond your control? This may be where you need to accept your powerlessness.

Are you neglecting yourself and activities which you can effect? This may be where you need to develop and exercise your power.

Make a list of three areas you would like to be different in your life. Think of what you can and cannot influence on this list. Let go of what you cannot change. Add to this list at any time.

By reading and thinking about these Exercises to Stop Overeating you have already begun to exercise your personal power.

2. Situation -- unfinished tasks: Unfinished tasks confront you. You feel depressed and overwhelmed. You eat rather than begin your work.

Exercise: Pause. List your tasks.

  • Complete a small task before you eat. Completing the task will let you experience power more satisfying than that which comes from overeating.
  • The tasks may be too many and too complex for you. Break these large tasks into several small activities. Write them down.
  • Give yourself freedom to choose. Decide if you will put your effort into one task, working on all the activities until the task is completed. Or decide if you will put effort into several tasks, performing a few activities for each. As you complete an activity, check it off your list.
  • You are giving yourself freedom and power. You are giving yourself a reasonable structure. You are giving yourself a way to mobilize your power for your own benefit. You will appreciate your efforts when you see they lead you to fulfillment of your goals.

3. Situation -- verge of a binge: You are on the verge of a binge. You are deciding what and how much you will eat. You promise yourself you will stop at reasonable limits (although you rarely succeed in keeping this promise.)

Exercise: Pause. Write a description of your last hour, the immediate hour you lived just before now. Include:

  • What happened.
  • What you did.
  • What you said.
  • What you thought.
  • What you felt.

You may have experienced something hurtful or frightening to you. You may have been reminded of something hurtful or frightening. This can be true even if what happened in the hour seems, on the surface, to be simple and ordinary.

Remember, you now know that there is something you don't know. So something innocuous, like hanging up the phone, or misplacing your shoes, or looking at a coffee cup on a shelf might actually trigger a painful feeling in you that you would prefer not to feel.

Think of how you might soothe or comfort yourself. You may need understanding you can't give yourself. You might find that understanding and holding in a book, painting or piece of music. You might listen to an educational or inspirational tape. You might call a friend.

You might continue to journal. Write what you are thinking and feeling now. Read it out loud. Read it out loud a second time in front of a mirror.

Let yourself learn to listen. When you hear your true hunger's voice you can give yourself the nourishment you really need.

4. Situation -- in process of overeating: You are eating more than you need during a meal.

Exercise: Pause. Take a deep breath and close your eyes.

  • Breathe normally and pay attention to your breath. Feel the oxygen enter your lungs and nourish your body. Tell yourself there is plenty of food in the world. You can have more at your next meal.
  • Imagine your next meal. Commit to what time you will eat a nourishing meal again. Tell yourself you will be kind to yourself during the time between meals, and you will give yourself a good next meal.

Exercise 5 - 10

5. Situation -- reaching for a snack: You are reaching for a snack. You want to say "no" to the snack, and you can't.

Exercise: Pause. Pay attention to your breathing.

  • Think. Where else do you say "yes" because you can't say "no"? Do you smile or silently accept behavior or requests from people despite your discomfort?
  • Write down an incident that occurs to you where you wish you could have said "no" or "stop."
  • Write down the snack situation.
  • Answer these questions regarding the snack:
    1. What do you think would happen if you said "no"?
    2. What would you feel?
    3. What benefits might you get if you said "no"?
    4. What benefits might you get for saying "yes"?
    5. What hardships might you get for saying "yes"?
  • Answer these questions regarding the incident:
    1. What do you think would happen if you said "no"?
    2. What would you feel?
    3. What benefits might you get if you said "no"?
    4. What benefits might you get for saying "yes"?
    5. What hardships might you get for saying "yes"?

Compare your answers. Do they have anything in common?

You may be saying "yes" to the snack and "yes" to a person or organization to protect yourself from some kind of discomfort. Your unwilling "yes" may be a way of sacrificing joyful opportunities.

Keep what you've written about these situations, questions and answers. Include them in your journal. Compare them to other situations where you say "yes" with words or with body acceptance but would prefer to say "no."

6. Situation -- postponing: You are postponing beginning an activity. What are you postponing? Is it true that you can postpone everything except eating?

Exercise: Reverse the order. Before you reach for food, pick one activity you have been postponing and take concrete action. It may be a note or a phone call. It may be gathering materials you need. A small action mobilizes your personal power.

7. Situation -- loneliness: Alone at night you want to eat. You want the comfort of food and perhaps television.

Exercise: Pause. Think of the people you have known throughout your life. There is one, perhaps more, who made a positive impact on you. Perhaps you like, love, or admire them. Perhaps you didn't know these people well, yet are grateful they touched your life.

  • Think of a thought they would appreciate. Share it with them. For example, send them an expression of appreciation or a picture, article or cartoon that might delight them. Rather than sink into the oblivion of food and television, you can connect yourself with people in a meaningful way.

8. Situation -- lying: Have you told a lie lately? Lying is related to overeating. Don't you lie to yourself about how much you eat and why?

Exercise: Think about lies you told or are still telling. Write down to whom you lied and why. Include yourself.

  • What made that lie necessary? How can you begin to correct that lie or prevent that lie from being necessary in the future? By facing the secrets you know you are keeping you become closer to facing deep personal secrets you don't know about. These are the secrets that hold tremendous power over your overeating habits.

9. Situation -- broken promises: Have you broken a promise to anyone lately? Include yourself. You break a promise to yourself every time you overeat.

Exercise: Make a list of your broken promises. Make good on the promises you can still honor.

  • You may discover that some promises are impossible to keep and should not have been made. Acknowledge this. Knowing and accepting what you can and cannot accomplish increases your ability to establish reasonable limits for yourself. You become trustworthy to yourself and others.

10. Situation -- good bye: You have said good bye to your friends and are home alone. You feel nervous. You are ready to eat whatever you can find for comfort.

Exercise: Pause. Consider moments that delight you.

  • Give yourself a simple delight now while you are feeling the overeating urge. Perhaps it's listening to music or taking a warm bath. Read a poem out loud to your cat or dog. Sing in the shower or do some physical exercise to let out some energy.

Exercise in Kindness:

Be kind to yourself when you feel the urge to overeat. You want to overeat because you are threatened by something and are seeking safety, soothing and peace. Criticizing and punishing someone for being frightened accomplishes nothing positive. It only makes the frightened person more afraid. On this journey to freedom, the frightened person is you. Be kind.

Remember, every urge to overeat is a moment of opportunity to discover and satisfy your true hidden hunger.

When you want to overeat and don't, you will feel something you don't want to feel. These feelings are your clues to inner mysteries which compel you to overeat.

Knowing and resolving your secrets can free you to explore what you really do want. Maybe you can have it, maybe not. When you know what you really want, if it is realistic you can strive for it. If it is unrealistic you can let it go, mourn and be free.

Either way, the overeating solution is gone.

The next phase of Triumphant Journey will show you how to discover secrets you have from yourself and how to move beyond their power into a life of more health and freedom.

end of part 3

next: Part Four: Time of Decision
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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 20). Exercises to Stop Overeating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: April 18, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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