How to Stop The Guilt & Angst of Overeating

So many of you have told me how you want to stop abusing food, stop beating yourself up over overeating episodes and have had enough with the guilt and angst of living this way for years.

If you think about it, it’s not just the physical act of overeating that causes this. The frustration and despair come from:

The disappointment of letting yourself down yet again

The inability to control your actions which you believe should be easy

Feeling that relying on “food” is a sign of weakness

Do you notice a common thread running through all of these feelings?

All your emotions are an outcome of not being able to live up to your expectations.

Your expectation that every day needs to be a perfect diet day.

Your expectation that after all the things you do in a day, you will still have the energy to stop reaching for that cookie.

Your expectation that the “right” way to do things is not to rely on food at all.

Where do our expectations come from? And are they the right ones to have? Are they realistic? And are they the right benchmarks to judge progress?

We believe that our expectations are fair and so we conclude that something must be wrong with us.

But what if we’ve got this all wrong?

What if WE are right. WE are okay and our expectations are unrealistic?

What if having a perfect diet day is silly to aim for because it only results in self-sabotage and bingeing? What if you could have a 70 or 80% diet day instead and not binge at all?

What if reaching for a cookie at the end of a long day is actually really normal – it’s just a topping up of energy and willpower we’ve exhausted throughout the day? What if instead of stopping ourselves, we slowly eat one enjoying it without any guilt?

What if strength doesn’t come from standing alone but by using the right resources to keep us going? What if sometimes food plays that role?

Emotional eating almost certainly comes from having unrealistic expectations for ourselves.

What if resetting some of your expectations can help you get to the other side?

Are you willing to do that? I’d love to know – tell me in the comments.

Your Emotions Are Your Superpower – Here’s How To Use Them Right

Our emotions are incredibly powerful – they are so innate and instinctual, reactions to our environment and thoughts that we’ve developed as self-preservation mechanisms right from our caveman days. They told us to run in the presence of wild animals, to find food when we experience hunger and to chase dreams to find happiness.

Our emotions are and have always been signals into our life that can help us if we interpret them correctly.

Unfortunately, most of us try to shut ourselves off from our emotions.

We are too tired.

We are too scared.

We may even be quite clueless, at a loss to understand what emotions mean.

It’s not that easy to close ourselves off though. Even though we might avoid trying to think about them, they are always there at the back of our minds making us feel strangely upset, disconnected or sad.

And so we eat to feel better, we eat to numb our minds and we eat to forget our feelings.

Avoiding our emotions almost certainly causes disordered behavior as a response – some become morose or sad, others become aggressive and brash, a lot of us procrastinate and ruminate and some of us eat.

To stop this entire emotion avoidance cycle then, it makes sense that we need to face our emotions head on.

This is hard for many of us because we’ve been taught that feeling emotions is weak. We’ve been told to ignore how we feel and live life in a hardy way. For many of us, we’ve never been taught how to deal with emotions effectively – it’s only for sissies is the common misconception.

To stop emotional bingeing though, it’s not necessary to go far too deep into dealing with our emotions. Just the first step of accepting our emotions is good enough to solve half the problem.

Accepting our emotions means that:

  • We acknowledge that something is not right, that we are sad or angry or frustrated or upset.
  • We accept this feeling without any judgement and without any rationalization. It doesn’t matter why we feel this way, just that we do.
  • We allow ourselves to fully experience the emotions wholeheartedly.

Try the exercise below to start fulling accepting your emotions. Give yourself a chance to stop eating emotionally (because diets don’t work anyway, do they?)

Step by step exercise:

  1. That emotions you’ve been trying to push away, label it – is it anger, sadness, frustration?
  2. Stand in front of the mirror and take a deep breath.
  3. Look into your eyes and say out loud, “ I am (emotion)” . Replace (emotion) with the feeling you identified in step 1. For example, “I am sad”.
  4. Repeat it until it sinks in. Take a deep breath to help you accept it.
  5. Once you repeat it 3-4 times, let go for the day. Try again tomorrow. Don’t force it in. Some may feel a wave of emotion wash over them and for some, their mind just goes blank. There is no one correct response. Just do the exercise and let it go.

P.S.: I know this is scary and that you may feel like you’re opening Pandora’s box but I want to assure you that you’ll feel a great sense of relief at the end of the exercise. Yes, you may feel overwhelming emotions but now there isn’t any pressure to hide from them anymore. And THAT’s what stops eating our emotions.

Let me know in the comments how this made you feel. Sending hugs your way!

How Stress is Causing You To Emotional or Binge Eat (& How To Stop)

If binge or stress eating was something you developed later in life, I can pretty much assure you that it was an attempt to divert your mind from some sort of stress.

When I say stress, I don’t just mean a long week at work or feeling tired. I mean stress in a deeper way which shakes up your mind and makes you feel terrible deep within.

If you allow yourself to feel that is.

Note: Of course, you always cared too much about your weight or body, which is why you defaulted to food in the first place. People who are happy with their physiques usually have the opposite reaction to stress – they stop eating. Ever notice that?

Often when we are shaken to our very souls, we try to avoid dealing with the stress hoping that if we avoid it, it will go away.

Instead of dealing with it rationally however, we are only pushing it down to our primitive brains which interpret the stress as a threat to our survival. This triggers the fight or flight response within the body and to restore normalcy, we eat to feel better (to the biology geeks, this is the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in action).

Eating in this case is really a pacifying mechanism which happens because we are avoiding dealing with the stress rationally. Basically, it’s your brain being a naughty child and trying to catch your attention.

On the flip side then, if we are able to address our stress in a systematic rational grown-up logical way, we would be able to stop this entire loop right in its tracks.

How to deal with stress effectively?

    1. Accept That You’re Stressed

In a world where stress and emotions are considered a weakness, it’s difficult to acknowledge the truth. Stress however is neither a strength nor a weakness – it’s simply a sign. A sign that something is not quite right.

You can choose to follow the sign and make changes to improve your life for the better. Or you can choose to ignore it and walk in the opposite direction sabotaging yourself.

I sincerely hope than you can choose to accept that you’re stressed. This is the first and biggest step to dealing with stress positively.

    1. Acknowledge the “real” cause of stress

The second step is to verbalize what our real cause of stress is. This isn’t just the surface level “My boss is a b**ch and that’s stressing me out” type of statement. Rather, it’s to dig deeper and figure WHY a bad boss is getting you stressed.

There is something about the way you are responding to your boss that is making you feel this bad – is it because you are letting their opinion of work impact your self-esteem? Is it because you are pissed that you couldn’t defend your rationale?

Stress is always a result of how you feel about the situation that happened to you – if you had the perfect response to shut your boss up, would you be feeling stressed about it or would you be elated?

    1. Fix the roots

Once you’ve identified the real cause of stress, you now have the option of fixing the root issue so it doesn’t happen again. This might mean changing how you respond in certain situations or learning a new skill to get better.

Or you might choose not to do anything about it, which is perfectly fine as well.

By doing this work, you now understand why you feel the way you feel, and that it’s not something to be scared of. Instead of defaulting to a fight or flight response, you can now simply brush off what’s happening in your life and move on. When your body has nothing to be worried about, it won’t rely on food to make itself feel better ☺

High achiever? Perfectionist? How To Feel In Control Around Food

Personality traits of high achievers that serve us so well in school or at work are the very same traits that make quitting unhealthy habits so difficult.  

As a high achiever or perfectionist, quitting emotional or binge eating might be more difficult for you. However, you also have inherent superpowers can actually help you if used the right way!

To understand why, we need to dig a little deeper into what makes you a high achiever.

High achievers always set very high expectations for themselves.

High expectations usually mean challenging goals that we expect to achieve as instantly as possible. When we make an effort, we expect to see the result – plain and simple. That’s how we’ve succeeded all through our lives, through using achievement and success to motivate ourselves. Unfortunately, this approach backfires when we want to quit emotional eating or even lose weight.

High achievers also expect themselves to be good at everything and have a perfect life.

That includes have a great body in addition to rocking it in their personal and professional lives. The more and more we gain weight and move away from the body we so desire, the more and more we try to control what we eat to “diet” and lose weight. It is said that the forbidden fruit tastes the best – so we crave the foods we avoid until we end up bingeing on them.

High achievers love to be fully in control of their life – directing and dictating what’s happening to them.

When we start to feel out of control about our careers, relationship or our future, we overcompensate by trying to establish a sense of control through food. Food is always there – it doesn’t judge, it’s sane and obsessively controlling how much and what we are eating helps us feel better.

Lastly as high achievers, we also always need to moving towards our goals.

When our life seems messed up, we make our weight and bodies our mission in life – it becomes our only source of achievement and our biggest goal. So when we seemingly fail at our only goal in life by emotional eating and gaining weight, our self-confidence crumbles. Without our confidence, we are nothing. We wonder, “If I can’t even stop myself from eating a cookie, how can I achieve all of my dreams?”

How To Use Your Superpowers

Though it might seem like the odds are stacked against high achievers, we can easily turn our biggest weaknesses into our biggest superpowers as well.

#1 First, we need to re-establish the intrinsic locus of control that’s so natural to all of us.

This means reconnecting with our real self which believes that we can influence events and their outcomes, that we are not at the mercy of external forces.

A long time spent failing to stop compulsive eating can make us feel like we don’t have enough willpower or discipline. A long time spent unsuccessfully trying to lose weight can make us feel like our genes are to blame. After all, since we’ve tried everything and nothing’s worked – could genes be the answer to all our worries?

Don’t even entertain such thoughts!

The first step is to realize that the changes you need to make to see results are in your control. You were just missing a piece to the puzzle, that’s all.

#2 Second, we need to set the right expectations for ourselves.

The entire weight loss industry has marketed itself for decades as being an instant solution – so of course, we expect instant results.

What we want though is not just weight loss or fad diets anymore, right? We want to feel healthy mentally and physically, be happy with our bodies and stop eating so compulsively. We want to find peace with food. We want to enjoy healthy food and cake all together.

These are not just instant diet changes that you’ve been led to believe but a complete lifestyle overhaul. Changing decades of thinking from “dieting” to “health” isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s a process that will take months, at the end of which you can have a deeply relaxing and intuitive relationship with food.

Being prepared for this journey to take some time is the second step in using our superpower.

When we know the effort and time involved, we are able to keep ourselves motivated and stay patient through the process just like getting that stellar GPA after 4 years of study or getting promoted after a few years of hard work.

#3 Third, we need to capitalize on our inner drive to stay the course.

Once we’ve set the right expectations for ourselves and reconnected with our internal locus of control, we start feeling more like ourselves. We find it easier to get into the zone and our confidence bounces back.

This is the time to connect to our old selves, the one that gets excited chasing a new goal (especially difficult ones!), thrives under pressure and treats the entire setup like a big game that’s meant to be enjoyed.

Adopting this mindset of “play” helps us enjoy the challenge that quitting emotional binge eating is.

Instead of being disappointed and losing face, we often find ourselves jumping back into the fray to try again because we feel so much more energized and motivated than before.
#4 Lastly, we need to work smart not just hard.

A trademark quality of high achievers is that we know just hard work doesn’t cut it. We also need to find smart solutions to problems.

Imagine a scenario at work  – let’s say you work for a business trying to increase its sales. You hypothesize that plan A will work but it doesn’t. Maybe you try a second time and then a third. After that, you most likely conclude that it’s not the right approach and switch strategies, right?

Why don’t we ever do that when we want to stop binge eating though? We keep dieting over and over again even though it doesn’t work for us.

Applying the same work mindset to our food habits, we can clearly see that we need a different strategy.

Give it a go and tell me what you think in the comments!

 

 

What A Life Free From Overeating & Food Obsession Actually Looks Like

So much of anti-diet movements focus on what not to do – don’t be in a diet mindset, don’t restrict food, don’t hate your body. It’s all very well to tell a person what NOT to do but telling someone WHAT TO DO is a far more helpful strategy.

This kind of “avoiding negative” thinking means that as an overeater, you know what you don’t want. But you have no idea where you want to get to, what not overeating actually means and how it feels.

It’s like asking someone to drive without telling them what the destination is. A GPS that tells you to drive away from your home is not very helpful, is it? How do we know if we are driving in the correct direction or if we are just going around in one big circle?

Today I want to show you what a healthy and happy life free from food obsessions actually looks like. I hope you can use this as your GPS and that it can inspire and motivate you during even the most vicious overeating cycles.

Below are excerpts from a number of different women all of whom have a naturally healthy relationship with food. I 100% agree with these statements – this is exactly how I feel and coming from a disordered food relationship, I can assure you that it’s very much possible to get and feel this way forever.

  • I’m not very intense about food anymore. I still eat candy and drink sodas sometimes. It’s not good for me but I enjoy eating it and I like it this way because it is stress free.
  • I just don’t obsess about the number on the scale any more. I just try to eat well, live healthy and go by the fit of my clothes.
  • I try to focus more on giving myself what I need than on how much I weigh. I do some sort of activity several times per week, I read and participate in creative hobbies frequently, I sleep in if I need it, I try not to stress about things I can’t control, etc. Just do your best and focus on what you’re good at/makes you happy!
  • I try my best to listen to my body eat what I want when I want. It’s important to learn what food has nutritious value and how to give yourself a balanced meal so that then you can move on without thinking of it too much. I no longer ever stress about my food!
  • Rule one is never feel guilty about your food, there shouldn’t be such a thing. If you eat a piece of cake enjoy it, relish it and just see it as a treat. Rule two for me is it needs to be a long-term change. You need to see it as a journey of learning about food and yourself and what works. It should never feel restrictive or like a punishment

When you have a healthy relationship with food, you feel relaxed around it. You realize that there is no perfect meal plan – sometimes you feed it for physical sustenance, and sometimes for emotional and either is fine.

You don’t judge yourself for eating one too many cupcakes or overeating grandma’s amazing apple pie. You are comfortable eating what you want, at whatever weight you are and it doesn’t even cross your mind to think about a diet.

When you have a healthy relationship with food, you don’t think much about it. It doesn’t affect who you are and what you do. You enjoy the process of eating, the company at meal times and picking your favorite restaurants on weekends.

You spend most of your time living life, being the best mom or wife, finally starting that side gig or going out on a date.

You feel attuned, relaxed and satisfied around food just like watching a beautiful sunset or sipping Sangria on the beach.

Mostly, you feel happy and at peace with yourself, content in who you are, where you are and what you are doing 😄