4 Ways To Stop ADHD Overeating

May 13, 2010 Douglas Cootey

ADHD and overeating commonly double-team your brain--think about when hyperfocus or impulse control work you over. Here are four ways to stop ADHD overeating.

Could my expanding waist have anything to do with ADHD overeating? You don't think mindlessly eating causes me to gain weight like a delivery truck at Christmas, do you? Or, more probably, ADHD and overeating kind of go together with lack of impulse control and hyperfocus.

ADHD and Overeating Partly Due to Impulse Control

DToo many to chooseo a quick search on Google for "ADHD and overeating" and you will discover over 70,000 links. Not everyone who has ADHD is a wirey thin, hyperactive exercise freak. Some of us come in rounder, more pudgy shapes and sizes.

Hey, who ate all the chips?



I did.

ADHD Overeating Follows Mindless Eating

The other night, I was writing in the zone. I love being in the zone. Music is playing, the kids are asleep, ideas are flowing from mind to finger to screen at a rapid rateā€¦ I'm so productive I don't even recognize myself in the reflection of the monitor. It's been a while since I've eaten, so I grab a box of Japanese Pocky sticks and open one of the bags inside. Next thing I know the box is empty.

The problem is I don't really remember eating them. And I had to have opened the second bag absentmindedly. Did I even taste them? I must have. I used my mouth, teeth, and tongue to move them into my stomach.

Pocky sticks are chocolate covered pretzel sticks. Not terribly fattening, but I've also polished off entire bags of chips, cookies, candy, etc. without so much as a passing thought while working "in the zone".

Tricks to Stop ADHD Overeating

Fortunately, I've developed some tricks to keep myself from doing that too often. Try these tricks and let me know how well they work for you.

  1. Use small portions - Always divvy out a small portion of any food or snack item when you plan on eating while working. Never take a full bag of anything with you to the desk. It won't remain full for long.
  2. Keep a food log - This is a pain in the neck to do and very interruptive to the autopilot which makes it perfect. Anything that helps you pause and think before eating can help you stave off overeating while zoning out.
  3. Don't buy food or snacks you have a weakness for - When I know I have work to do later in the day or week, I will often refrain from buying nibbley snacks that I love to pig out on.
  4. Refine your diet - Eliminating unhealthy, fattening foods from your diet will have an added benefit of not providing fuel for this overeating fire. You can't overeat what isn't in your cupboard. That's why in our home we don't buy potato chips anymore. Or bags of candy. Or boxes of wonderfully, glazed donuts filled with custard and covered with chocolate.

Actually, we buy that last one, but only as a treat. It's alright to reward yourself occasionally. You just want to build up obstacles to prevent yourself from mindlessly eating when you're down in the dumps, distracted, or preoccupied.

Photo of blurry snacks from darkstream

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, May 13). 4 Ways To Stop ADHD Overeating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

May, 13 2010 at 2:40 pm

Oh man this had me laughing so hard! Do you remember when I accidentally ate the Sea Salt and Vinegar Chips one night? That was embarrassing too.
PS another good tip is to find something healthy to eat too much of instead. Like bananas. YUM

August, 1 2010 at 2:38 pm

Another possible solution: chewing/bubblegum. There are times when I'll want to eat not because I'm hungry, but because I'm bored or I want to chew on something, which is when a piece of bubblegum comes in handy.

Douglas Cootey
June, 28 2010 at 10:59 pm

JR ~ Heh. I'm afraid I restarted exercising AFTER I put on all those bags of chips, eggnog, and sugary snacks.
Funny, I love to go out for bike rides or walk in the middle of the night, too.
Christi ~ I've been aware of ADHD sensitivity to textures before, but never thought they could also function as a compelling reason to eat something. Makes sense, though.
Kathi ~ Dangerous, but fascinating. I have found that exercise late at night slows me down. I wonder if there is a food that might help me slow down naturally. Mmm, time to experiment.
Thanks for commenting!

May, 19 2010 at 5:05 am

I can relate to this! I often eat to slow my mind down at night when it's too active. I'm not hungry, but a whole bunch of carbohydrates will shift my brain into low gear so I can get to sleep.

May, 15 2010 at 8:13 am

There's that distraction thing and there's the OCD thing added to my problem. I'm addicted to textures of some foods that are unhealthy. I can't help it. When I get something that has that texture, I start drooling, I get so excited and then I have to try and eat that particularly thing slowly and push it all around my mouth with my tongue to feel that texture. It's a whole thing with me. I'm not even hungry for it. It doesn't feel like an emotional thing, it feels like OCD and impulsion. Is there a medication for that??? :-)

May, 14 2010 at 9:58 pm

I could relate to this. Usually when I'm working on a project or some homework of some sort, I would always have a bag of chips under my desk. I would look and grab a piece of chip and realize that it's all gone. I always end up asking myself if I really did eat all that chips? Apparently I did, and subconsciously. And the only reason why I'm thin is because of these random runs I do in the middle of the night

May, 13 2010 at 2:40 pm

Oh man this had me laughing so hard! Do you remember when I accidentally ate the Sea Salt and Vinegar Chips one night? That was embarrassing too.
PS another good tip is to find something healthy to eat too much of instead. Like bananas. YUM

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Douglas Cootey
June, 10 2010 at 10:49 pm

Thanks for the comment, Brin. However, as much as I love bananas, eating too many has detrimental effects. Better to not eat too much at all. Of course, if you spent more time at home you could keep the garbage away from me. You have some nerve heading off to college and being busy. Sheesh!

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