Temptation is an emotional reaction to stimuli and in itself is harmless. Acting on temptation becomes a problem when the long-term consequences are less than desirable.

The temptation to overeat sweet, fatty and fast processed food is ramped in our society. From food advertising to food availability 24/7 our senses are under siege with cues to eat.

Breaking down the temptation to overeat

I believe temptation to overeat is an affair of 3 factors:

  1. The desire to escape pressure
  2. Perceived opportunity
  3. Rationalization

If you can break temptation’s triangular grip at any of the three points, you will dissolve the emotional illusion of the benefits in having the object of your desire.

Giving into temptation feels good at the time, but no one ever feels great after overeating.

Temptation is difficult to resist because it triggers the release of the feel-good hormone Dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting signals in between the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain.

Dopamine is reward based and functions like a reflex, almost independent of the rational brain.   Dopamine is part of our primitive survival system and can exert tremendous control over our body and mind.

However, it cannot excuse our actions, because we have the power to mentally, physically and emotional resist temptation.

Let’s now explore the factors that make the temptation to overeat a success and strategies to help us resist!

Feeling under pressure

Pressure placed on us, either external or internal, from family, friends, work, financial or some other situation, can create feelings of being “out of control” or lost or overwhelmed.

Instinctively our survival system of “fight” or “flight” is activated. Sometimes, when we feel most vulnerable, we choose the flight into the pleasurable state of our chosen temptation.

We feel we “deserve” our temptation “after the day we have had.”

It’s important to break this link of rewarding personal hardships with food; because we don’t deserve calories we deserve kindness!

In this situation, we do need to treat our self kindly, perhaps with a long bath or shower, a walk in the fresh air, or just go to bed early.

Doing something like this releases life’s pressure in a sustainable health-promoting way.

Perceived Opportunity

Forged on a battlefield for survival; the temptation to overeat becomes sinister.  It is a habit that has become a primal instinct to save the body from harm.

Denying our body food through restrictive diets is perceived as a danger by our subconscious, because it has become accustomed to the Dopamine rush of overeating to self-soothe.

Therefore, on a subconscious level, we will look for the opportunity to have our logical brain hijacked to “save” our body from the obvious distress.

Cravings usually happen when we are alone with our thoughts, and there is a low risk of getting caught in indulging the temptation to overeat.

In this situation, acknowledge your subconscious need to feel safe, and then physically turn your back to temptation, walk away quietly, calmly, with no self-judgment.

Do not enter into negations with yourself – you will lose!


Giving into temptation and overeating makes you feel painfully defeated afterward. Paradoxically it is the avoidance of the pain of defeat that strengthens temptation’s hold.

We have evolved as a species to avoid pain, but modern living has convinced us that life is about the pursuit of constant euphoric pleasure.

The rationalization for momentary euphoria becomes the justification for repeating the temptation. It is giving us permission to exert, suppress or “renegotiate” our attempts to have a healthy and happy life.

The devastating consequences of rationalizing temptation are that it trivializes our efforts and discards the difficult and not so pleasurable journey to health and well-being.

If you fall into the temptation of overeating, simply shrug and let it go…..do not justify it… feel entitled… award no emotional fuel to overeating.

Over time, the flame that attracted you to overeating will dwindle and gently extinguish… Peace and well being will be in its place.


Live well with fitness