I have trouble with overeating. I find it difficult to control myself when other people are eating unhealthy foods such as chips, pastries, pizza and fast food. My brother invites me to potlucks and there are foods there that I know I cannot control myself with. Also, my mom invites me to eat at fast food restaurants. Whenever I eat those foods, at the moment I feel good, but then 20 minutes later (or when I find out that I gained weight), I feel guilty and frustrated. I’m tired of going through the same cycle over and over again. I want to be free from that cycle and gain new healthy habits that I can manage myself, such as having willpower and control. Anything that would be helpful.

– Gema N.V.


Kudos to you for acknowledging a weakness and reaching out for help. You should have the health and nutrition your body deserves. All of the advice and education I could provide here would not in itself lead you to healthier habits, however. Willpower and self-control regarding food are really about your relationship and beliefs about food. You need to examine those (the “why”) before you can move forward (the “how”).

Keep in mind that if you have been dieting or restricting yourself, it is common to over-consume when given the opportunity. You mentioned accepting invitations from a couple of family members, so I understand the difficulty in separating yourself from those environments. However, you are responsible for what goes in your mouth and how much. Bringing your own food (even to share) may be a solution to join them while maintaining a healthy intake.

A support group or self-help guide are good options for delving into how you think about food, your body, and your nutrition, and what certain foods or eating situations may represent to you. If you are feeling trapped in a cycle of binging and guilt, consider finding an eating disorder specialist who can help you reduce feelings of shame, increase self-acceptance and steer you to a better path.

“As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is ‘Love of Oneself’.“ — Charlie Chaplin, 1959

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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