3 Steps on How to Stop Overeating

You were born with the ability to know when to eat, what to eat and when to stop.

Look at babies. They cry when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full.

So why is it so freakin’ hard to stop from eating a whole bag of chips as an adult, even though you KNOW you’re not hungry?

Somewhere along the way you got the message that you weren’t “good enough” and went on a diet.

Diets lead to more diets and before you know it you’ve been dieting for years (even decades!)

When that happens you’ve lost the ability to listen to your body—to truly know when it’s hungry and when it’s full.

3 Steps to Stop Overeating

3 Steps to Stop Overeating

1. Pause and ask yourself, “am I hungry?”

This sounds so simple but it’s the most important step. Practicing this one step could eliminate the majority of mindless eating.

Often times we’re not hungry when we eat. We’re turning to food to fix an emotion. We’re simply looking for stress relief, comfort, love etc.

If you’re not hungry when you check in with yourself, what emotion are you feeling that’s causing you to eat?

Then go deal with that emotion in an emotional way, rather than using food.

2. Rate your hunger.

Before you eat anything, rate your hunger on a scale of 1-5.

One — You’re starving. You could eat everything in sight.
Two — You feel pleasantly hungry. You’re ready to eat and you don’t have any indecisiveness to do so.
Three — You feel neutral. You’re not hungry. You’re not full. Perfect.
Four — You’re satisfied. Your hunger is gone but you’re not so stuffed you have to unbuckle your pants.
Five — You’re so full you don’t even want to think about food.

If you rate your hunger as a two that means you’re in the perfect “eating zone.”

If you rate your hunger as a one, you missed the subtle cues your body was giving you. Physical hunger produces an energizing feeling and comes on slowly.

You’ll have a heightened sense of the food around you, like when you catch a whiff of the pizza parlor while walking through the mall.

If you rated your hunger as a three or above, you’re not ready to eat yet.

Rating your hunger teaches you to re-trigger intuitive eating by checking in. How does your stomach feel? Is it empty and grumbling? Does it feel stuffed and uncomfortable?

3. Stop when the hunger goes away.

One of the biggest complaints I get from my clients is, “I don’t know how to stop eating.” Again, this is because their natural instincts have been overrun by constant dieting.

You know when you’re really hungry and food tastes amazing? Like fireworks exploding in your mouth? When that heightened sense of taste starts to fade while eating, that’s a great time to stop.

Check in with yourself and rate your hunger. A rating of three is ideal. Your hunger is gone and you feel satiated and content.

A little self reflection while eating throughout the day is all it takes to tune back into your natural instincts. With practice and consistency these techniques become automatic and will restore intuitive eating once again.

Now you. 

Do you have any tips for controlling over-eating habits? I’d love to know in the comments below. 


  1. Joy

    I love how kids can take a bite of cookie and leave the rest sitting on the table. Not only do I finish my cookie, I finish theirs too! AACK. My trigger is food waste-I hate throwing away food. I will finish anyone’s plate (my kids, their friends, my friends), I’m usually fully aware that I’m full yet I finish it because I don’t want to waste it. Meanwhile, it’s “waisting” on my body-pun intended!

    • Mariah Dolan

      I am the same way, Joy! I was raised not to “waste” food. So it’s been a labor of love trying to get my brain to not treat my body like a garbage can…because the food is still “waisted” if it can’t use it, right? Easier said than done 😉

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