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How can I avoid overeating if I have diabetes?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

It is important to avoid overeating to help prevent diabetes. But it's not easy. How you prevent overeating depends on what kind of eater you are.

Some people have external eating behavior, which means they respond not just to hunger but to external cues such as eating opportunities—the birthday cake at an office party, the second helpings available at the dinner table. Other people are emotional eaters, who eat to affect their moods. Emotional eating is particularly tough to change. If you are an emotional eater, try making a list of activities besides eating that you enjoy, and keep the list handy when you have an urge to overeat.

Another approach is to wait out the urge to eat. Give yourself 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, if you really want to eat, have a small portion and then remove the rest of the food so you're not tempted to eat it. You may also try calling a friend or family member to take your mind off eating.

Tonya Bolden
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

If you have an unhealthy relationship with food, especially if you are diabetic, start taking the baby steps to a better diet. Consider thinking about how you came to have bad eating habits. If it’s a family tradition, or cultural, recognize that you will not betray your family or your heritage if you pass on eating certain dishes and stop preparing food the way your people have for generations.

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Before you eat, take a moment to rate your hunger. Think about how hungry you physically feel. Your goal is to eat when you are hungry but stopping when you are comfortably full.

Try not to put off eating for too long. Waiting until when you are starving and unable to concentrate—may lead to overeating. When you first start to feel any of the symptoms of physical hunger—stomach pangs or growling, emptiness in the stomach, irritability, headache, low energy/fatigue, difficulty concentrating—you should probably start to think about eating.

We often let the sight of food tempt us when we are comfortably full. Before you indulge, take a step back and think about how you feel. Did you just eat a few minutes ago? Are you eating in response to an emotion or because you are experiencing physical hunger?

Think of alternatives to eating for when these temptations arise. Some ideas are:

  • drink a bottle of spring water
  • take a walk to change the scenery
  • do another form of exercise (sit-ups, running, swimming, tennis, etc.)
  • call a friend or family member
  • read a book or magazine
  • work on a hobby
  • play a game with someone else

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.