Is Overeating Sabotaging Your Life?
Overeating can be a problem that shows up in many forms. It not only is a killer of your self-worth and self-respect but it can also be a huge block to your business and personal success. Many female professionals and entrepreneurs who overeat to help them get through the workday or treat themselves when they get to the end of it, find it increasingly difficult to show up with the visibility and confidence that they would like to have because they judge themselves for being overweight and assume others will do the same.
And guess what? Dieting to lose weight is not the answer. It’s really not as simple as that.
Check out these Six Steps to Overcoming Overeating: –
Step #1 Understand what keeps you overeating
This really is the first step. Your body and brain have evolved to enable us humans to survive as a species. That means that we seek out pleasure, avoid pain and save effort and energy.
In today’s world seeking pleasure, avoiding pain in the form of emotional discomfort and saving effort and energy translates into eating foods with concentrate sugar, fat, alcohol and/or salt as often as possible but especially when the alternative is feeling emotional discomfort (anxiety, boredom, stress or loneliness) or taking the effort to prepare a meal from scratch.
In order to thrive, not just survive, in the world in which we live today we need to have strategies to overcome all of our primal, animal programming so that we avoid foods that give us artificial pleasure, we lean into emotional discomfort and we expend effort and energy in the form of healthy meal preparation, movement & exercise, and self-care.
Step #2 Decide how you want to eat for life
Your body has an innate wisdom, far better than any book or authority to know what the right way for YOU is to be eating for every stage of your life. You know your likes and dislikes; you know which foods leave you feeling bloated and which leave you feeling energised. And if you don’t know because you’ve not been having enough variety, or because you’ve not been eating nutritious and nourishing foods, now is the time to find out.
Work with your body. Listen to it. Trust it. And you will know how to eat.
Take time to intentionally decide what foods you want to eat more of, what foods you want to eat occasionally purely for joy, and what foods really don’t serve you at all – that you can do very well eliminating from your life.
Step #3 – Become boss of your brain
Once you know what ‘Eating Right for You’ looks like you will then need to put strategies in place so that eating that way becomes inevitable.
And those strategies include you knowing how to be boss of your brain.
The problem with refined food products is that they cause our brain to release huge amounts of dopamine, and then our brain thinks those foods are hugely important to our survival, and we create a continuous cycle of over reward and over desire.
If you over desire certain foods, or alcohol, it’s because you’ve learned to over desire them, and when you’ve repeated the desire reward cycle enough times it almost becomes habitual so you don’t even notice that you’re doing it. The good news is that this is a learned response and you can unlearn the desire for these foods when you repeatedly interrupt and stop the cycle. And the way that you can do that is by planning.
When you plan you use your higher human executive functioning brain to make all your food and eating decisions. You avoid using will power in the moment to do the ‘right thing’. When you plan in advance your primal brain does not have an opportunity to justify having that treat, or eating because you’re tired, or eating because you’re hungry, or convincing you that just a little bit won’t hurt. Making food decisions ahead of time enables you have the perspective and vision to decide what you want without your primal brain getting in the way.
Step #4 – Mind Management
Your relationship with food is purely your thoughts about food, about eating and your thoughts about your thoughts about food and eating and your weight.
We have lots of thoughts associated with eating foods that we over desire. Thoughts like: ‘it’s delicious’, ‘it will make me feel better’, ‘I deserve it’, ‘a little bit won’t matter’, or ‘it’s not fair that I can’t have that’.
These are deeply programmed thoughts that are likely keeping you eating foods that you over desire, and of course these tend to be foods that aren’t great for your health.
Then if we find ourselves overweight and struggling to lose it we develop thoughts about our relationship with food such as: ‘what’s wrong with me?’, ‘I’m so out of control’, ‘I should have more will power’, or ‘I hate feeling deprived’. And then what often happens is we feel miserable and we eat to feel better.
All our thinking is optional, we get to choose what we think about food, our eating habits and ourselves. We think we need to change our eating first, that we need to lose weight first, to change our thinking. But it doesn’t work that way. When you change your thoughts, that’s when you create the relationship with food that you want. Work on your thinking and the rest will follow.
For example if you think ‘I’m not capable of losing weight’ I encourage you to shift your thinking to ‘now I understand why I want to eat so much I can figure out how to stop’
Or if you think that ‘I’ll be miserable without my snacks or treats to get me through the day’ you could explore thinking something like ‘it’s possible that not snacking with save me time, help me to feel better and give my body a chance to snack on my own internal food store’.
Step #5 – Enable your emotions
Most of us are poor at processing our emotions. We tend to avoid feeling negative emotion and either resist it or numb it. And one of the ways that we can numb our emotions is by using food to feel better in the moment.
Everything we do in our lives is because of how we think ‘doing it’ will make us feel. and everything we don’t do in our lives is because of how we think ‘not doing it’ will make us feel.
Every single time you decide whether or not to put something on your shopping list, order something at a restaurant, or put some food item offered to you by a friend into your mouth – is determined by whether you think you will feel better with our without eating the food. Even if you don’t want to eat the piece of cake your friend offered you, you may say yes because you don’t want to offend her. The truth is that you don’t want to experience the feeling (how you will feel) if you think you’ve offended her.
Humans are a species of over positive emotion and over pleasure. We think that something has gone wrong if we are unhappy, or bored, or frustrated. We overindulge in food, drink, over shopping, social media, and even work. We become pleasure and dopamine junkies, chasing our next momentary dopamine high, and sometimes that starts to work against us.
To lose weight, to change your relationship with food for live you need to ‘unlearn the skill of eating to feel better in the moment’. That’s it, once you stop using food to solve for anxiety, stress, boredom, sadness and discomfort, once you stop using food to create comfort and pleasure and as a reward to yourself, losing and maintaining your weight for life becomes very easy.
And the way to do that is to not think you need to solve for those emotions and to ALLOW them instead. The more we push away and avoid feeling, the more power emotion has over us. They key is learning the skill of processing and allowing these emotions so that they become more comfortable and then we no longer need to eat to avoid them.
Step #6 – Love yourself like your life depends on it
It’s vital to approach weight loss or changing your relationship with food from a place of love, care, allowing and compassion. A life of balance. It’s where you are balancing your desire to have discipline and be in control of your life with pleasure.
That’s why the weight loss process that I teach is structured in a way that allows you to make your own decisions about the fuel that you put into your body. The way that you will know if you’re doing weight-loss, or any kind of eating management correctly, is if you feel love towards yourself.
And you can feel this love and acceptance of yourself because you’re willing and wanting to invest in you. You feel good about writing down what you’re eating, you’re not afraid to acknowledge what you’re eating, because you’re not judging it. You’re not afraid to weigh yourself. You’re not afraid to start exploring how you feel about your body.
You’re willing to start loving it for what it is. An amazing human body that is taking care of you. And you’ll recognise that when you love your body, you want to put healthy energising food into it. And you’re willing to invest time in learning how to allow your emotions instead of eating your way through them.
If you can relate, then you may want to consider working with someone to help you make these changes in your life. Whilst it’s totally possible to do this on your own it can make a huge difference when you’ve got someone supporting you along the way. And one of the benefits of working with a someone else is that they can often see your blind spots. Areas in your life, how you are thinking or feeling, or what you are doing that are getting in the way of you making the changes you seek, without you realising it.
Remember you’re worth taking care of.