5 reasons you’re overeating (that have nothing to do with willpower)

Giant Gummy Bear

“I have no willpower around carbs.”

“It’s sweets! I absolutely cannot have them in the house!”

“I was good all week and then I ruined it all this weekend at a friend’s birthday party.”

I hear these things all the time when I’m talking to new clients. 

People (naturally) assume that their overeating is the result of some combination of irresistible food and a chronic lack of willpower on their part. 

But the truth is that there’s so much more going on under the surface.

Here are five reasons (that have nothing to do with willpower) that are much more likely at the root of your unhealthy patterns with food:


You’re using food to manage feelings

Boredom, loneliness, hurt, anger. Food is always there to make you feel better, right? 

I often say that we’re trying to put a food-shaped peg into a feeling-shaped hole

It doesn’t really work so we keep eating and eating but never really scratching that itch.  


You’ve developed habits

Your brain naturally forms new neural pathways around any behavior you repeat often enough. This is how habits are formed.

When you’ve spent most of your life eating certain amounts at certain times with certain people while doing certain things, these patterns become habits. 

Those habits cause you to eat – not because your body needs fuel – but because this is just what you’ve always done.


You’re under too much stress

When we’re under chronic stress OR when we’re just not properly processing the stress in our lives, our body produces a ton of cortisol (your body’s main stress hormone). Cortisol increases appetite and leads directly to overeating.


You’re eating mindlessly 

If you’re multitasking (not paying attention while eating), your brain will have a hard time catching the subtle signals your body is sending about when it’s satisfied. 

This almost always leads to overeating because it’s not until you’ve either eaten everything on the plate, or you’re uncomfortably full, that you stop.


You’ve been dieting

Dieting doesn’t do a great job of keeping weight off long-term, but it does do one thing really well; dieting trains you to stop listening to your body! 

Ignore your hunger! Ignore your cravings! That’s what dieting teaches us.

But, when we get good at ignoring our body, we also lose the ability to know when we’re truly hungry, satisfied or full which leads directly to overeating.


Any of those sound familiar?


This is why people joke that I’m “the Nutritionist who never talks about food.” LOL


It’s why, in my popular 8-week Change Your Brain – Change Your Body program I don’t say a word about carbs, protein, calories or (ugh) willpower! Rather, we go deeper under the surface and start exploring (and rewiring) the real reasons we’re overeating and turning to food.


Because it’s not about the food…not really.


It’s about all the other stuff. The feelings, the stress, the habits, the mindless eating, the hormones, and the fact that, after decades of dieting, we’ve forgotten how to actually listen to what our bodies really need.

The less you can worry about willpower, and the more you can start looking a little deeper into your relationship with food, the faster you’ll start seeing real, long-lasting shifts.

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Sara Best


  1. Susan on November 10, 2021 at 8:09 am

    I’ve only just started reading your book.
    I stay up late every night.
    I’m stressed. I’m emotional, I’m depressed and I’m fat.
    I just finished the end of a bag of chips watching tv at midnight. I want to cry.
    Will the book really help me? 🙏🏼

    • Denise Prout on November 10, 2021 at 9:47 am

      It will help massively. I found Sara after I lost the weight, for the umpteenth time, and I have been at target for a year because of the book. I have never stayed at target for more than a few weeks but this time – I am doing it! I promise you will find things in the book where you just go – that’s why I do XXXXXX and Sara has something to help you.

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