Text Link

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

How to stop thinking about food

Food is an essential part of life. We need to have it every day, and we couldn’t live without it, so it’s natural to think about food on a regular basis.

However, if you're constantly thinking about food or if these thoughts disrupt your daily life, it could be related to disordered thought or behavioral patterns.

If you're wondering how to stop thinking about food or struggling with food obsession, you can try mindful eating, different types of therapy, cultivating self-acceptance or other options that may help you stop constantly thinking about food.

Last updated on 
October 27, 2023
October 27, 2023
In this article

Why am I always thinking about food?

Food plays a central role in many ceremonies, traditions, rituals, and other social gatherings across nearly every culture on Earth. And even at its most basic level, food is something we literally need to survive and maintain basic metabolic functions.

Thinking about food is perfectly normal, and, for the most part, how to stop thinking about food isn't something someone should worry about. There are many reasons why people think about food regularly. 

Biology
Emotional eating
Social situations
Disordered thinking

Tips on how to stop thinking about food

There's nothing wrong with thinking about food. But if you find your food thoughts are bordering on obsession or are otherwise becoming problematic, there are some tips to stop constantly thinking about food, diet, or eating.

Some good places to start include:

  • Showing yourself some grace. Shame and guilt can be driving forces behind many disordered eating thoughts, including "How can I stop thinking about food?" and behaviors, such as binge eating.5 Giving yourself the space and acceptance to have your own relationship with food and eating may help you let go of some of these thoughts.
  • Drinking enough water. On the physiological side, you may be thinking about food because you're hungry, especially if you're dieting or otherwise restricting food intake. Proper hydration may help reduce cravings for certain highly-palatable foods, which may help your mind move on from these thoughts.6
  • Finding something else to do. Many times, people can't stop thinking about food because they're bored. But there are other ways to keep yourself occupied. If you find yourself experiencing food obsession, try taking a break to stretch, go for a walk, read something, or call up a friend instead.
  • Keeping your patterns in mind. When you find yourself thinking about food, take note: Are you angry? Bored? Stressed out? Sad? Many people eat as an emotional response. Keeping track of your emotional state may be a good way to remind yourself that your thoughts about food may actually be tied to something else entirely.

It should be noted that these tips are not intended to help someone lose weight. Instead, they should help someone free themself from food guilt and other negative thought patterns that can make hard to stop thinking about food all the time.

Woman looking into a mirror

{{link-bank-one-column}}

How to build a better relationship with food

At the core of most cases of food obsession is an unhealthy relationship with food and eating. But there are other tips that can help you proactively work on this important relationship.

Identifying and honoring hunger cues
Incorporating pleasure and satisfaction
Practice mindful eating
Finding help for an eating disorder

Even people who eat intuitively and are present and mindful while eating must think about food every day. Whether in its planning, preparation, or purchasing, food is an essential part of life.

But if you find yourself thinking about food constantly and obsessively, and if this creates distress and disruption in your life, it could be a sign of restriction, disordered eating, or other mental health challenges.

If this is the case, help is available and we encourage you to reach out for support. Everyone deserves to nourish their body and enjoy food without obsession and distress.

Call (866) 293-0041

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Rossi, M. A., & Stuber, G. D. (2018). Overlapping Brain Circuits for Homeostatic and Hedonic Feeding. Cell metabolism, 27(1), 42–56.
  2. Blechert, J., Klackl, J., Miedl, S. F., & Wilhelm, F. H. (2016). To eat or not to eat: Effects of food availability on reward system activity during food picture viewing. Appetite, 99, 254–261.
  3. Ziauddeen, H., Alonso-Alonso, M., Hill, J. O., Kelley, M., & Khan, N. A. (2015). Obesity and the neurocognitive basis of food reward and the control of intake. Advances in Nutrition, 6(4), 474–486. 
  4. Gordon, E. L., Ariel-Donges, A. H., Bauman, V., & Merlo, L. J. (2018). What Is the Evidence for "Food Addiction?" A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 10(4), 477.
  5. Craven, M. P., & Fekete, E. M. (2019). Weight-related shame and guilt, intuitive eating, and binge eating in female college students. Eating Behaviors, 33, 44–48.
  6. Carroll, H. A., Templeman, I., Chen, Y. C., Edinburgh, R., Burch, E. K., Jewitt, J. T., Povey, G., Robinson, T. D., Dooley, W. L., Buckley, C., Rogers, P. J., Gallo, W., Melander, O., Thompson, D., James, L. J., Johnson, L., & Betts, J. A. (2019). Hydration status affects thirst and salt preference but not energy intake or postprandial ghrelin in healthy adults: A randomised crossover trial. Physiology & Behavior, 212, 112725.
  7. Colarossi, J. (2021, March 31). How Eating Competence and Intuitive Eating Can Improve Your Relationship with Food. Boston University. Accessed June 2023.

FAQs

Further reading

19 tips for meal planning during eating disorder recovery

Returning home after an eating disorder treatment program can feel...

What is diet culture?

You’ve probably heard of the term “diet culture” if you’ve spent any time immersed in...

Understanding picky eaters

Many young children are very selective about which foods they will eat. Although...

Nutrition counseling in the treatment of eating disorders

Nutrition counseling, also referred to as nutritional counseling, food counseling, or nutrition therapy...

Meal planning in anorexia nervosa recovery

Treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN) is often multi-faceted, involving a combination of care techniques that...

Learning the intuitive eating principles

Intuitive eating is an approach to eating based on responding to the body’s...

Is it bad to eat at night?

You might have heard that it’s somehow harmful to eat late at night. Diet culture...

How to stop thinking about food

Food is an essential part of life. We need to have it every day, and we couldn’t live without it, so it’s...

Why do I feel sick and nauseous after eating?

“Every time I eat I feel sick” is something that is heard often by dietitians...

Can sugar and other foods be “addictive”?

Whether or not you suffer from an eating disorder or are simply trying to maintain...

Why we should avoid labeling food as good or bad

Have you ever referred to certain foods as “bad” or “good?” Maybe you say things...

What is “normal” eating?

“Normal” eating is just as it sounds—it’s a pattern of food consumption in which...

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is an eating practice that involves listening to your body’s hunger...

Wanting vs. liking food

Wanting and liking food are two vital psychological components of...

Talking to your child about food, eating habits, and bodies

Parenting can be challenging—physically, mentally, and emotionally. You want to give your children the...

Strategies for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery

After you’ve finished a higher level of care like inpatient eating...

Is intermittent fasting disordered eating?

Intermittent fasting is a relatively popular diet regimen involving periods of...