• Shannon Western

How to Stop the Urge to Eat When You're Not Hungry

Have you ever wondered why you just can’t stop eating, even if you’re full? Do you find yourself grazing and snacking all day long, even if you have eaten a full meal recently? In this article I am going to take you through my 5 top tips to stop eating when you’re not hungry, so you can start to feel more in tune with your body and have more intuitive control around food and eating.


The first words of wisdom I would like to give you is: why is it a problem to eat when you’re not hungry?


It might be that you’re feeling uncomfortably full all the time, or you never feel properly hungry because you’re constantly grazing. How does it feel physically in your body to eat when you’re not hungry - does it feel pleasant, unpleasant, neutral?




Now for my 5 tips to stop eating when you’re not hungry:


1. Permission permission permission (to slow down)

How long has eating when you’re not hungry been something you’ve noticed? Perhaps it’s two weeks, two years, or two decades. With something so necessary for living, like food and eating, it makes sense that it’s really difficult to stop doing a behaviour that doesn’t feel great in our body.


Just like all other changes, it takes time to change.


So, if you take anything from this article, take this: Even just noticing that you’re eating when you’re not hungry is a big step in itself. It means you’re starting to be connected to your body.


This is the first step to stopping eating when you’re not hungry.


2. Reflect on why you want to change


You have a choice to decide to stop eating when you’re not hungry, or not. But to really know if changing is something you want to do, you might want to look at the pros and cons.


What are you hoping will happen if you stop eating when you're not hungry? What does that give you, how does it serve you? What kind of place is this coming from? Is it rooted in dieting and control?


Take a few minutes and write out the “pros of stopping eating when I’m not hungry” and the “cons of stopping eating when I’m not hungry” - what comes up?


3. Are you sure you’re not hungry?

This might sound so obvious, and you might think this is completely off the mark, but bear with me here.


Unfortunately we live in a world that makes people push down their hunger and ignore it, which means the majority of people don’t even know if they’re hungry or not. This might sound unbelievable. But really think about - can you really tell?


You might know you’re hungry when you’re starving and are completely empty, but it’s not often people know when they’re a little bit hungry.


So, before you stop eating when you’re not hungry, you need to know when you ARE hungry. Makes sense, right?


You can rule out the biological urge to eat - which cannot be pushed down and will eventually lead you to eat.


To begin to notice if you’re hungry, sign up for my free Hunger Discovery Guide (this opens my homepage where you can enter your email to get the freebie!) which you can use to check in with hunger. After enough practice, you will soon be able to detect the signs of hunger even without this scan.


You’re welcome!




4. Now check in with your emotional health


Check in with self-care and your emotional health. Are you having restful sleep, enjoyable nights and days off work, are you speaking with friends? How can you incorporate more time taking care of yourself?



5. What foods “can’t you stop eating”?


I think there’s probably a hand full of foods you immediately think about.


The usual culprits are often crisps, chips, chocolate, jelly sweets, donuts, cakes…


And I hazard a guess there’s a difference with different foods - do you feel like you can stop eating salad, but not bread? Eggs but not burgers?


Take a couple of minutes and recall the foods that you eat when you’re not hungry - what kinds of foods are these? Are they foods you think of as not that healthy?


Healing your relationship to these foods is key to feeling less out of control with them. I have some tips for this in my blog How to Stop Sugar Cravings. It’s specific to sugar, but I promise the tips work for all foods!



Take home tips:

  • Approach with curiosity, not extremism

  • Honestly think if you can even tell when you’re hungry and full - what do those signals feel like? Can you notice when you’re stuffed or starved, but not gently hunger or slightly full?

  • Notice what foods you can’t stop eating - is it possible you need to heal your relationship with those foods, and it’s not just a lack of willpower?