Recently, we have been under intense stress from anxiety and this has caused changes in many people's eating behaviors. These changes related to mood can cause some health problems such as eating disorders and weight gain due to overeating. So why?

  As a result of constant overeating, the brain's reward mechanism is disrupted and starts to work just like the brains of drug addicts. When you don't feed these reward mechanisms with sugar or junk foods, withdrawal symptoms develop and your brain begins to secrete stress hormone (1). As a result, you start to feel so bad that you find yourself in the junk food again and start eating large amounts as if you wouldn't be able to find those foods again. In order to get rid of this vicious circle, I am talking about a method that you should apply and make a habit for life (2).


  You can reduce overeating by listening your body's signs of hunger and satiety. When you are aware of your physical hunger, you are less likely to confuse it with psychological hunger. Stress, boredom, and emotions (even moments when you are overly happy) can make you find yourself eating even though you are not actually hungry.

 You can use this method, which is used in many scientific studies in the field of psychology, to eat mindfully.

1. Breathe. Spread your awareness throughout your body. Ask yourself: How physically hungry am I right now? What are the signs that made me answer this question?

2. Rate your physical hunger level from 1 to 10:

I'm not hungry at all: (1-3)

I am hungry: (4-7)

I'm very hungry: (8-10)

You must have consumed a sufficient and balanced meal before reaching the value of 8. Thus, you are less likely to have a tendency to overeat. You should not wait until you reach 10. If you are starving, it is very common for you to eat too fast and too much, or turn to sugary and sweet foods.

3. While eating, savor what you eat and enjoy the eating experience. While doing this, you should not be distracting such as watching TV series or movies or playing on the phone.

4. Pay attention to the signs of swelling, hunger and satiety in your stomach. "How satiated do I feel physically?" Ask and rate your answer between 1-10.

I am not full: (1-3)

I am full: (4-7)

I'm very full: (8-10)

End your meal when your score is 7 or 8, meaning you feel moderately satiated. The satiety signals caused by the increase in blood sugar and satiety hormones go to your brain gradually and you start to feel satiated only 20 minutes after your meal is finished. Stopping before you get those signals and eat too much is often the hardest part, but when you start practicing it regularly, you can make it a habit and make it easier.

In summary;

  • To get the brain's reward mechanisms working properly, try this method. Try to identify whether it is you who are hungry or your emotions.
  • Don't think of food as rewards. When you are happy or sad, do not reward yourself with food. Remember that the primary goal of eating is simply to live.
  • If you feeling hungry suddenly, try to focus your attention on other activities you enjoy.
  • If you want to lose weight, you should focus on losing weight by consuming the foods you love with non-restrictive diets as much as you need. In addition, in a study conducted on 1349 people who were eating by using this method that you just learned, a decrease was observed in the individuals' body mass index, and their weight (3).
  • Do sports. It has been scientifically proven that exercising regularly at moderate intensity has the ability to break this vicious cycle by fighting the impaired reward mechanisms of the brain (4).


  1. Cottone P (2009), CRF System Recruitment Mediates Dark Side of Compulsive Eating, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA: 20016-20020.
  2. Kristeller J, The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle with Food (New York: Perigee, 2015).
  3. Bourdier L (2017), Are emotionally driven and addictive-like eating behaviors the missing links between psychological distress and greater body weight?, Appetite. 120:536-546.
  4. Codella R. (2016), Sugar, Exercise, Health, Journal of Affective Disorders