3 Tactics to Prevent Overeating

What's the best way to keep from binging?

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

When it comes to our favorite treat foods, is it out of sight, out of mind -- or does absence make the stomach grow fonder? Some diet experts recommend removing favorite high-calorie foods from your house to lessen temptation and prevent overeating. Others believe that banishing favorite foods only makes you want them more - so you're more likely to binge once you do get your hands on them.

As many things in life, the truth probably rests somewhere in the middle. I personally promote the idea of eating when you're hungry, in a mindful and relaxed state. And I discourage anything related to obsession and deprivation. Yet we all come to the table with our own psychological and physical issues, which can complicate things a bit.

The Chocolate Box Syndrome

Here's an example of the "absence makes the heart grow fonder" way of approaching favorite foods. About 10 years ago, I met a woman who told me that every time she bought a box of Sees chocolates, she ended up eating the entire box in a day. She asked me what she could do to stop this. I asked her if Sees chocolate was really special to her, and she answered, "Yes, it's one of my favorite things." I asked her if this was something she let herself have only on rare occasions, and she said yes.

I suggested she try buying a box of Sees chocolates and putting it in her refrigerator or freezer. Then, every time she truly wanted a chocolate, she could sit quietly and really savor one piece. Two weeks later, she happily told me she still had a partially full box of chocolates in her refrigerator. She had enjoyed a handful of pieces and was looking forward to having a few more in the weeks to come. Just knowing she could have one when she truly wanted one gave her comfort and helped prevent her from overeating.