How Do I Stop Over-Eating When Stressed?


Hi Adam, do you have any advice on how do I stop over eating when I am stressed or anxious? As it creates a lot of guilt within me after I over eat. I am trying to lose weight but when I'm stressed I tend to eat more. Thanks.


The 'over-eating' is usually because you don't like feeling a certain way, and there is an urge to distract your attention from it, or change it into something else. It is like searching for a release from it, isn't it?

First thing is to see the futility of the guilt afterwards. It is just a cycle for maintaining suffering and a small sense of self that is unworthy in some way. Notice that the guilt does not prevent the overeating to not happen again. So actually, it is just useless energy.

Don't call it overeating any more. Stop calling anything anything. When the stress is there, let it be there. Don't try to mask it or suppress it. When the call to go and eat comes, in response to the stress, just notice it. Just because it arises, doesn't mean anything It doesn't mean you've done wrong, it doesn't mean you have to give it belief. Just notice it. Some of it will feel painful, and there will be an urge to do something like eating to get rid of the pain, but if you be the wider space for it all, then you will not feel so trapped inside of it. You can let it all be there, without trying to work it out or fix it. Let the attention rest away from it, in the space around the urges or the feelings, feel the empty space inside and around your body. Notice that they are energy movements, which arise by themselves. There doesn't have to be a battle, but rather an allowing.

Does that help?

You mentioned you want to stop over eating because you feel guilty afterwards. That was your main reason. So just don't feel guilty, if possible. Sometimes we can be so addicted to guilt, that we will act out things that lead us to guilt, just so we can feel guilty about it afterwards. Part of the cycle is the guilt. When you eat, eat consciously, feel the pull to keep eating before you've even swallowed the last mouthful, but don't be obedient. Eat consciously. Taste everything. Chew thoroughly. Notice sensations. That might help too.