Weight Loss – Are You Legalising Overeating?

Weight loss is about understanding the power of persuasion and influence when it comes to food, fitness and behaviour and putting this into a strategy that is going to make it easy for you to ultimately get what you want. Sure, it’s about what you eat, when you eat it and how often you exercise…but we are persuasive beings and we persuade ourselves out of doing things as much as we persuade ourselves into doing them. We also love to hide from ourselves, what we eat and what we have actually done. .We have a great capacity to legalise overeating at a subconscious level.

Some strategies that we put in place to support our weight loss can actually have the opposite effect and be counterproductive, leading us to gain weight or not lose any at all. Have you ever found you worked out and the weight just didn’t shift? I know I have. I put 2lbs on in a week when I started exercising again. Why? Well, read below…


When we start to work-out again, we may persuade ourselves that we can eat more; picking a ‘healthier’ food choice, may persuade us that we can eat it in a larger quantity (avocados at brunch – is this you!?). Spending an extra 15 mins on the treadmill may persuade us that we can have that croissant with our coffee or; having a salad may persuade us to have dessert or take the lift rather than the stairs like we normally do.

This is called ‘legalising’ certain actions because we have done something good or perhaps we have eaten something ‘healthy’.

Picking up exercise after a period of doing nothing can actually encourage people eat more and consequently don’t achieve the weight loss they are seeking. So why do we do this, and how can we change?

Usually we experience a level of guilt when eating a less healthy food type in excess and tend to not eat the entire jar. Whereas, when eating more healthy versions what happens is that we actually don’t have guilty or negative feelings about over-consumption. That absence of negative feeling might now license us to consume even more. We may actually believe over-consumption will be mitigated by the ‘healthy’ version of the product.


Examples of this are…

  • Healthy avocado – you see brunch packed with what looks like an entire avocado smashed up, when really one healthy portion size is a ¼ of a large avocado
  • Nuts – a bag of trail mix is healthy, but one portion size is really on the size of a thumb.


Remember, we are persuasive beings and more often than not we persuade ourselves subconsciously that over-consuming healthier version of things is ‘ok’. There have been numerous studies done on this. The results show conclusively that we can increase our usage and over consumption of the more ‘healthy’ version by a 3rd!!

The number one tip that we can offer you to make sure you are not sub-consciously legalising your overeating is to find an app, book, plan or person that can help you track your food consumption when you start out; at times when your weight plateaus; or, when you want to change something on your plan, such as add an extra exercise session.

Basically, the more honest you are with yourselves by keeping a diary of what you eat, the less you legalise the other stuff. Don’t waste your time working out if what you want is weight and fat loss if you’re just going to simply legalise overeating. It’s a yo-yo behaviour and pretty boring too.





Siobhan is Beattitude’s founder, Women’ health and fitness specialist. She is a CAFS certified movement specialist, Personal Trainer and straight talking Yorkshire girl. She has trained women for over 10 years, and helped hundreds with pelvic floor issues, incontinence, diastasis and weight loss.