How can I Tell if I'm Overeating?

wiseGEEK Writer

In light of the growing concern over obesity, many people are suggesting ways in which people might reduce their caloric intake and maintain healthy weight and eating patterns. A consistent problem has been that many people don’t realize when they are overeating, and frequently underestimate both the amount and calorie content of the foods they eat. It’s a good idea, even if you're not struggling with weight issues to figure out if you are overeating, and this can be accomplished in a very simple way.

Feeling overfull after eating is a sign of overeating.
Feeling overfull after eating is a sign of overeating.

The easiest way to track how much you’re eating, and whether you’re overeating, is to keep a food journal or food diary for one to two weeks. The diary should be portable enough to take with you, since most people don’t just consume food at home. It should also have enough space to write not only what you eat, but to record portions.

Weight gain may be a sign of overrating on a regular basis.
Weight gain may be a sign of overrating on a regular basis.

For instance if you demolish a whole bag of chips, you shouldn’t just record that you ate chips, you should also record, as based on the back of the bag, the number of servings of chips you ate. If possible, you should notate the total calories each serving has so you can compute this information later. During your week or two of recording you should not attempt to change your eating habits, but merely record them.

Once your week/s of recording is up, you assess the journal to count for calories. Typically, average calorie intake for an adult woman is between 1800-2000 calories a day, and for men it is about 2300. You can look at many online calculators to find specific calorie recommendations for your age, height, level of activity and present weight.

Sometimes you don’t even need to count calories to see that you are overeating, or a food journal may point to the fact that your problem isn’t so much how much you eat, but what foods you choose to eat. For instance if all your calories come from simple carbohydrates and fats, your protein intake is way too low, which can mean you’ll gain weight easily. Following guidelines provided by organizations like the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help you decide if you’re overeating in certain food groups, and undereating in others, or if you’re simply overeating in all areas.

There are some other basic questions you can ask yourself if you don’t want to maintain a food journal. You can first decide when you are eating. If you eat in front of the TV, or even while reading, you may be overeating. Studies show you eat less if you pay attention to the actual process of consuming food, as perhaps during a family meal. If you eat late at night before bedtime, you may be providing your body with too much fuel when you don’t need it. If you always feel overfull when you’re finished eating, you also might be overeating, though this may occur too if you’re very thin.

Determining if you overeat is an important step in maintaining a healthy life style, particularly as we have over time become a much more sedentary species than we were in the past. As it turns out, paying attention to what, when and how much you eat may be of vital concern, and finding out now if you eat too much may help you add years to your life, avoid certain forms of disease, and fight the battle of the bulge by adjusting eating patterns.

Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track your eating habits.
Maintaining a food journal is a great way to track your eating habits.

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Discussion Comments


I'm an 18 year old guy, 6ft and 10 stone. Today I've had a bowl of porridge, a banana and a can of sardines on unbuttered toast. I think I'm seriously overeating. Is this normal?


I'm sally. each morning when i have sultanas and oats for breakfast the average serving is 2/3 of a cup but i can eat about two cups of oats and sultanas and feel quite full but still not satisfied. I am always tempted to go back for more. like this morning i have had three bowls of oats which is about 2 1/2 cups of oats. is this really bad for me?

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