We all overeat every once in awhile, it’s normal, but when you feel like it’s become a routine habit of yours, it gives us reason to dig a little deeper.
Sure, life’s crazy and we’re over-stimulated, so life, in general, plays a big part in this, but one of the most common reasons I see consistent overeating among my clients is the fact that they’ve become disconnected to their own innate cues when it comes to hunger and fullness.
They’ve stopped trusting and listening to what their body is asking for, no longer relying on these natural signals to let them know when, how much, and what to eat; instead, they’re eating based on external guidelines and rules, which, while may be good intentioned, are often unrealistic, and based on opinions of others.
“I can’t eat yet, it’s too early! Be quiet, belly.”
“Ugh, I so don’t want another salad, but I know I should…” (Another post on “shoulding” ourselves and the harm that does, later on).
Your body doesn’t care what time it is. What it does care about is that it needs food, now, and when we deny or suppress our innate desire to eat, or we feed ourselves foods we don’t want, we’re sending the message that we don’t trust ourselves or we’re not willing to listen. This lack of trust will only seek to “feed” an unhealthy relationship with food, further disconnecting you from your body, and in turn, can lead to more overeating.
Learning to trust your body, understanding that it has the knowledge and desire to choose the types and amount of food that leave you strong, energized, and healthy, is critical for you to know, if you’re going to stop overeating and get off the vicious cycle. First, however, we have to take a look at the food rules we’re following and challenge them, because as long as those are in charge, it’s going to be hard create this trust.
Ditching the Food Rules
Once you’re willing to do this, it will make reestablishing this trust and open communication with yourself that much easier. You can begin by creating the habit of checking in with yourself throughout the day and learning to ask,
“What do I need, what do I want?”
Maybe, instead of having a smoothie for breakfast, you’ll find that you’d really love some toast with peanut butter. Or, perhaps, you’ll learn that you don’t even like breakfast, but have been eating it all along because you “should.”
You’ll also start to learn which foods and meals really fuel and sustain you, and those that leave you feeling tired, don’t digest well, or give you heartburn. I know for me, protein is super satisfying and keeps me full for hours and too much rice makes me sleepy, but is also filling and super nourishing in the right amount. When you start to listen, your body will let you know.
Will this necessarily be easy at first? No, not gonna lie. You’re dealing with deep-rooted habits and your entire belief system regarding food! It’s going to take time, and most of us really stink with being patient, but it’s essential.
Understanding How Emotional Eating Plays a Role
“How can I trust my body? All it wants is cookies!”
Ahh, yes, of course you’re going to want them; you’ve likely been denying yourself cookies for years, and remember, when something is off-limits, we want it that much more. And yeah, cookies are awesome! But, we also have to remember that there’s a big emotional component to eating. For a lot of people, when we’re “craving” certain foods, it’s because there may be something going on other than hunger, in the way of an unmet need, such as stress, lack of sleep, or an emotion that needs to be felt. This act of searching within will help us to find out what our body is really asking for in that moment, instead of always turning to food.
Let’s break it down a little more. Let’s say you get some negative feedback from your boss. Most of us would probably feel stressed, a little anxious, maybe even worried about job security, or disappointed with ourselves. For a lot of people, this would trigger them to want to eat. Food, especially that which is high in fat and sugar, is calming on our brain, so we’re actually hardwired to crave things like this during a stressful situation. But instead of going right for the chocolate, what if we paused, dropped in, and asked,
If you really need chocolate, eat it, no guilt allowed. But I think if most of us were honest, we’d discover that maybe we need a good cry, some encouraging words from a friend, or to spend more time talking through this with our boss. Remember, food is a temporary fix.
So what’s the takeaway? Our bodies are speaking and we need to listen, but as long as we shut out our natural cues, and continue to rely on external food rules and guidelines, we’ll likely keep overeating and stay stuck.
I’d love to hear from you. Call, text, or email me.
And if you live in Columbus, I’d love to meet you.