Lesson 4.3: Overcoming Overeating and Chaotic Eating


We live in a society where we overeat so much that we find it hard to distinguish between genuine hunger and urges generated by habitual daily feeding rituals. We eat because it’s time to eat, not because we are hungry or our body needs food. This may be a result in establishing bad habits related to overeating.

Most of us dislike that over fullness uncomfortable feeling when we overeat or binge. Train your stomach to unlearn being dissatisfied unless it is at full capacity. Teach it to be satisfied on 80% full and recognise hunger levels rather than eating out of habit or because it is in front of us. Rating your hunger out of 10 before you eat something is an important way to evaluate whether you are eating out of habit or because you are hungry. In this lesson, we discuss patterns of eating, distraction, portion size, style of eating and using food as a treat.


Before we begin, Dr Terence Chong will discuss learning theory so we can have a better understanding of the CBT stategies we are going to use.

Patterns of Eating:

It is important to follow a pattern of regular eating such as breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack, and an evening meal. Adherence to this pattern helps protect against “picking”, informal snacking and “binge eating.”. If you are not a “breakfast person”, look at having a nutritious mid-morning snack to avoid going to lunch without food.

Choose meals and snacks which are nutritious and satisfying (popcorn, handful of nuts, rice crackers, fruit and vegetables, low fat yogurt).


Pleasurable Distraction:

Urges do reduce with time and distraction. It is important that you should choose activities incompatible with eating until the urge to eat declines to a manageable level. These activities should be active rather than passive (getting up rather than reading) and should be pleasurable rather than mundane. (e.g. walking in the garden rather than housework). It is essential that you make this distraction something that is fun or something you have been looking forward to doing for this strategy to be successful. Like a bike ride in a beautiful garden setting.


Portion Sizing:

  1. Use a smaller plate
  2. Wait 10 minutes before we get a 2nd serve (to let our satiety hormone kick in)
  3. Try drinking a glass of water immediately.
  4. Get used to leaving food on the plate.


Use the motto “better wasted in the bin then on my waist.”

Style of Eating:

Where possible eating should be planned and meals to be eaten in a set place. Eating on the run encourages chaotic eating and bad choices.

Speed of eating: encourage food to be savoured and not to be eaten rapidly.

  • Put cutlery down between mouthfuls
  • Try to savour textures and flavours
  • Discourage eating at the work desk or in front of computers or televisions.
  • Do not eat directly from packages as this encourages over eating.


Minimise alcohol, reduce alcohol binges and drink only on special occasions of possible

Why can alcohol be a danger when trying to lose weight?

Alcohol has high calorie and carbohydrate content. 1 standard drinks can have a similar calorie and carbohydrate content as a vanilla slice. Alcohol also removes the ability to exert dietary restraint. It is often associated with increase hunger and the environment where alcohol is consumes usually contains energy dense and high fat foods.

Vanilla Cake

Did you know that 1 standard alcoholic drink has as much sugar and carbohydrates as a vanilla slice”. Think about that before you pour yourself a second glass of wine.

Using Food as a Treat:

Examine food In your life as a comfort, reward or “treat”.

Does food actually make you feel better ? Or does it make you feel worse?

To break this emotional link, try and identify other ways of rewarding yourself.

Unfortunately we are wired to want things we can’t have and the more we can’t have them the more we want them.  Food treats should be consumed every now and then but they should be planned and accountable. (I plan to share a piece of chocolate cake with my sister when I see her on Friday night). For the rest of time, try and have non-food treats.

Back to: Redefine™ CBT Weight Loss Program > Module 4: Addressing barriers to Weight Loss