I just can't stop eating

Filed Under: Overeating

20 October 2023 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

“I just can’t stop eating.”

When my clients say this, they believe that something is wrong with them. They believe it’s a willpower problem.

When I struggled with my eating, I believed it was entirely my fault and that I lacked control.

Yet, it’s not as simple as blaming our eating on a lack of willpower. There are usually many underlying reasons why we can’t stop eating. Judging ourselves is counter-productive, it keeps us stuck and prevents us from looking at other underlying reasons that could be causing constant eating.

Let’s look a bit deeper. Here are 4 things to consider when you feel that you “can’t stop eating”.

1. Restriction and Deprivation

Have you just come off a diet or a period of restricting food?

If you have experienced limited food choices or restriction it leads to deprivation and this is usually followed by a backlash of overeating.

Rules and restriction lead to obsession with food.

Think about your last diet, what happened?

In my case, I would reach a point where I simply couldn’t count points / calories / macros or follow rules any longer. That would lead to non-stop eating of my “forbidden foods”.

Another thing to ask yourself is, if there’s a threat of restriction or deprivation in the future? Perhaps you are considering another diet or cutting out sugar or carbs? This leads to “last supper thinking” so you try make up for all the food you will be missing in the future. When we try to eat less, it usually makes things worse because your brain thinks about food more.

2. Physical Needs

Are you meeting your basic needs for food and rest?

Look at your day, are you eating consistently during the day?

Is your body receiving enough food at regular intervals (including carbs)?  Often if we skip meals or eat on the run, grabbing as we go, it can cause eating all the time because we never really get satisfaction from our food. Can you tell when you are hungry for a meal or snack hungry? If you are eating snacks when you are hungry for a proper meal this could lead to eating all the time. Have you changed how you normally eat? If you are eating lighter, you will be hungrier sooner.

Another important factor to consider is sleep. Is your sleep consistent and uninterrupted? Sleep has a big impact on recognising our hunger and fullness levels. Are you sleeping enough? I mean consistent and uninterrupted sleep. One the biggest triggers to eat is tiredness.

Are you experiencing physical pain or are you taking any new medication? These factors also have an impact on your appetite and eating.

3. Judgement

Are you judging your food as good and bad? Judgement of foods can lead to all or nothing thinking and that usually leads to more eating. We think that judgement will keep us in check but it actually triggers our inner rebel and we tend to do the opposite.

Did you spend time with a person who is judgemental of their food or body? This can trigger internal shame and shame leads to more eating.

4. Emotional Needs

What does your average day look like? Are you rushing from one task to the next? Do you allow space for you in your day?

What are your stress levels like? Are you experiencing burn-out?

Is there (some kind of) balance (we don’t need perfect balance) between work and play, rest and friends? Do you allow time for fun and creativity? We all have a need for belonging, safety and certainty. In times of upheaval and distress we may turn to eating to deal with these unmet needs. For more on meeting our emotional needs, read this.

It saddens me when the amazing women I meet blame themselves without looking at the full picture. I hope this article sheds some light on why you could be eating all the time and that you can be kinder to yourself.

Wishing you peace with food,

✨ Ready to get coaching around changing your relationship with food?

Book a free 30-minute mini session and let’s explore what challenges you’re facing and see how the coaching I offer can support you.

“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

“Working with Xenia was amazing. She armed me with a bunch of tools to help me through difficult times. Xenia is the kind of person who really cares for helping you in the long run. Her work will forever have an impact in my life.”

Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

Heather B, Cork. Ireland

“This is the answer for those of you that struggle with food and all that surrounds it. Xenia said that I could make peace with food and it seemed at the time like an impossible dream. Turns out it isn’t. I recommend Xen and the mindful eating / intuitive eating approach unreservedly. If you have any questions about my experience, please get in touch. Thank you Xen. My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Xenia was a walking, living, breathing example of what can be done. I laughed and cried my way through a short course in this fascinating and invigorating programme with her, and have gained a designer tote full of coping skills that go way beyond containing kilogrammes. I feel infinitely lighter. I am doing this for me and, yes, you can do this for you too! And believe me, I’m cynical!”

Diana, Vancouver, Canada

“I don’t obsess about food like I used to. I am thinking differently about food and feeling so much more relaxed around all types of food. It’s wonderful to have pleasure and satisfaction from eating.”

Sarah, Illinois, USA

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Sandy, London, United Kingdom

Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating