top of page

Help! I Overate And I Don’t Know Why!

You wake up and start your day with a quick, nourishing breakfast. You have a busy morning but find a few minutes to eat a healthy lunch. You make it through the workday and at 5:00 you eat some cheese and crackers before you start cooking dinner.


After dinner, you sit down on the couch to relax and the urge to snack uncontrollably hits you. For some reason you can’t stop eating, which doesn’t make any sense because you aren’t even hungry.


Guess what? There’s a perfectly good reason why you “needed” the snack after work and had an insatiable hunger after dinner.


In this situation, or one like it, you may think more willpower or discipline would help you avoid the cheese and crackers, or the multiple trips to the pantry. But what if it isn’t about the food, or even you?


Food is meant to satisfy primal needs of energy, orientation, comfort, and connection. If we’re missing any of these, that’s when overeating can be a symptom you’re in a protective response that comes from various unconscious fears we don’t want to experience or feel. And, it’s seldom a single event but rather a culmination of triggers that chip away at our emotional resilience, so we don’t have the capacity to “care” about our food choices and end up feeling like we deserve to eat whatever.


The thing is, you likely do care and end up beating yourself up about your food choices afterwards. If you have an unconscious fear of not wanting to be exposed, misunderstood, or seen as a failure as a few examples, you will dive into a pint of ice cream any time you feel at risk of any of those happening.


That’s when you will have an insatiable hunger and will find it challenging to stop at just a little. And that’s because the ice cream is not truly what you’re craving! In those instances, more willpower or discipline won’t save you. Being able to identify what’s leading you to eat in the first place is a great place to start.


You can do that by checking in when you’re obsessing about eating something you feel you “shouldn’t,” during a binge (which can be very challenging so if that’s not possible right now, that’s OK!), and/or after you overate. The idea is to give yourself space, pause, and reflect on what you’re feeling.


Some common triggers that lead us to eat are feeling emotionally or physically tired, anxious/uncertain, inadequate, and/or lonely. You can use the acronym TAIL and ask yourself, ‘what’s at the TAIL end of my food thoughts?’


Once you reflect, see what arises and what you need once you have the awareness. This process may seem easy, but it is not simple. It takes practice and can be challenging to identify what you’re feeling, since food has been a way to push down and not feel emotions for so long. However, by creating space for introspection, you can gradually unravel the emotional complexities intertwined with your eating habits.


Although scraping the bottom of the ice cream carton can be a red flag, it’s also a gentle nudge to look within and use this tool.


Meet the expert:

Laura Folkes, Certified Holistic Health Coach
Laura Folkes informs her clients on more than just why they overate.

Laura has been dedicated to guiding individuals in transforming their relationships with food since 2015. As a certified facilitator of the evidence-based Truce with Food® process, she has supported over 120 clients to achieve sustainable results by addressing

the underlying reasons behind their struggles with consistency in eating habits, even when equipped with the knowledge of what to do.

Dive deeper into her wealth of knowledge:



bottom of page