Overeating Cycle

Simple Ways to Change the Negative Self-Talk and Overeating Cycle

January 11, 2023

The journey to a healthy weight can be arduous not just because of the lifestyle changes but our own battle within ourselves. Negative self-talk is an enemy of our ongoing success. Who among us has not shamed ourselves after overindulging? We need to not only change our habits but change the voice inside and change the negative self-talk and overeating cycle.

Change Your Self-Talk

One type of negative thinking is called all or nothing thinking. This is when we use words like “all the time,” “never,” “everyone,” and “always.” I am never going to get this weight off! I ate some ice cream so now my diet is ruined! The truth is that life is not black or white. Instead of absolutes, use more grey terms like “sometimes,” “occasionally,” or “I’m trying.” 

Another type of negative thinking is overusing the word, “should.”  I should have exercised today. I should not have eaten that much. Should implies guilt and guilt is an unproductive emotion. It keeps us stuck.  We do not move forward when we feel guilt. Replace should with choice. I chose not to exercise today because I needed to go to work earlier. I chose to eat that extra portion, but I will do better tomorrow. Unless we have actually done something horrible, there is nothing to feel guilty about! The path to health is rarely a straight line. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. 

Do Not Eat When Emotional

Sometimes we simply turn off the voice inside and do things based on emotions without thinking about it. Overeating is often a product of this. This is when we eat when we are bored, anxious, upset, or angry. It can also happen when we eat while doing something else like watching television, our phones, or while driving. Instead, we need to work on mindful eating habits. When you find yourself in the refrigerator grabbing something to eat, ask yourself, “Am I hungry? What am I feeling right now?”   Before putting anything in your mouth, notice how you are feeling. Have a glass of water before eating.  Thirst can mimic hunger. 

Engage in Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is the art of being more aware of what we put in our mouth. It requires us to be in the moment. Before grabbing any food, sit down for a moment, and consider if this is really going to nourish the body. Before eating anything, sit down, and ponder for at least three minutes what the purpose of the meal is. We need to listen to our bodies. Before eating, we need to ask ourselves if this is “head hunger” or real physical hunger. We need to slow down.

Slow Down

Slowing down our eating is also a great way to deal with overeating. Remember, digestion starts when we see or smell food or even think about it. Our brains are getting ready to digest the food. If we eat too quickly, then it does not give our brain time to get the signals from our stomach that we are full. That is why when we eat too quickly that we suddenly feel full. This also has to do with not thoroughly chewing up our food. Slow down. Savor the food. 

Negative Self-Talk and Overeating Cycle Summary

Changing habits like the negative self-talk and overeating cycle can be difficult, but even more so when we are battling against ourselves. Notice your self-talk. Eliminate absolute words. Instead of “should,” use the word, “choice.” We need to be kinder to ourselves. This includes getting in touch with our emotions, so we do not overeat or mindlessly eat. Slow down and enjoy!

Melissa Bailey, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and is currently head of Bailey Psychology Group.

Overeating Cycle
Melissa Bailey


Melissa Bailey, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist with active practices in several states. She has been in the field for over 20 years and received her doctorate from Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Chicago with an emphasis in Health Psychology and is currently head of Bailey Psychology Group. In addition to her private practice, Dr. Bailey has a special interest in the field of Autism. Read more articles from Dr. Bailey!