Is it just me or does anyone else roll their eyes when they’re told to drink herbal tea instead of eating something sweet at night? Or paint your nails so you don’t snack? While I do think those things are perfectly fine to do if they’re things you actually enjoy, they’re really just a Band-Aid for bingeing/overeating and don’t actually help solve the underlying issues.
If you want to stop overeating for real and for good, you have to get ready to dig deep. It’s hard work and yes, it’s easier to just eat, ignore the problem and promise yourself that you’ll be better tomorrow, but I think we both know that’s not a real solution.
So what is the real solution?
To begin overcoming overeating, you have to first relinquish control and trust yourself. Second, you have to stop putting food in good vs bad categories. And third, you have to get super mindful about WHY you’re overeating in the first place.
1) Relinquish control and trust yourself
In almost every email I get from my peeps about overeating, there’s some mention of trying to eat “perfectly.” They try so hard to be perfect and eat 100% “clean” that the second they eat something that’s not on that perfect level, it automatically means they’re out of control and why even bother trying? In other words, they have an expectation to be perfect, eat the perfect diet, the perfect foods and never eat anything other than perfect.
Let’s get real for a second here- how crazy does that sound?!
Just to be clear, there’s no judgement here. I did the same exact thing for YEARS. I was the queen of this cycle. What I finally realized was that when we use food as a way to control our lifestyle, eating anything less than perfect feels like a huge failure, so we binge.
The tool that anyone who struggles with the perfection mentality needs to develop is self-trust. Trust that one slip-up doesn’t mean you totally screwed up and you should just give up. Trust that you can choose to get right back to your healthy eating habits at your next meal or snack because you’re always one meal or snack away from being right back on target. Trust that there’s always more where that came from and if you want to eat more later, you can and you don’t have to eat it all now. And lastly, trust that you are strong and resilient and you have the ability and power to move on quickly.
2) Stop categorizing food
I know you’ve heard the theory that the second we tell ourselves not to eat something, that something becomes the only food we want to eat. We tell ourselves no, become fixated on the fact that the food is off limits and so of course we are going to feel deprived and have an intense craving for that food. So true, isn’t it?
If I could banish two words from my clients’ vocabulary it would be “good” and “bad” in terms of talking about their food or food choices. Why? Because it’s this very mentality that creates such an extreme approach to eating so it’s no wonder we feel like a total failure when we have a slip-up and binge.
The tool here is a mindset shift that allows up to approach food as completely, 100% neutral, there is nothing that can’t be undone, eating a few pieces of candy every now and then (or even everyday) won’t derail your progress even a little bit and the journey towards being binge-free is filled with a million shades of grey.
TOUGH STUFF, I know, trust me…it took me YEARS to get to this place mentally and I know how hard it can be to wrap your mind around this, but also trust me that this is the way to food freedom :o)
3) Ask, “Why am I overeating in the first place?”
You know those times when you’re standing in the kitchen at 9pm, you’ve eaten dinner, done the dishes and are ready to turn in for the night, but you feel an intense pull to snack and just keep eating, so you do, then you either
a) feel a huge sense of guilt and regret and keep going, or
b) decide you just don’t care anymore and keep going
I do! I would flip flop between both feelings and ultimately end up crying for being such a failure, fraud and for having no willpower. Questioning your actions and holding yourself accountable is key here because why keep eating? We rationally know it’s not helping us reach our goals, so how do you make that little voice in your head that tells you “who even cares, just keep eating” to shut up and go away?
The tool here is decide to care and you only need to care just a teensy bit.
Care that tiny bit in the moment, just enough to get out of the kitchen and go to bed, or turn down the bread basket at dinner, or make a chocolatey protein shake after dinner when all you want to do is keep eating mini peanut butter cups.
The thing to think about in the moment when you’re standing in the kitchen with your fifth handful of mini PB cups is this: When was the last time you went all in and felt really amazing afterwards? Probably never. Or even better, what about those times you stuck to your guns, decided to care and just went to bed? Chances are good that you probably thought about the fact that you “missed out” on that fifth handful for about 60 seconds then felt super empowered and proud of yourself for making the better choice.
Remember that the more restricted you feel, the more likely you are to overindulge later. Perfect eating is overrated. It actually doesn’t even exist. Expecting that you’re going to eat perfectly is just an excuse to keep feeling bad about yourself, and who wants to walk around feeling like a failure because they ate some chocolate?
In my experience (and in my clients experiences), being a little less perfect makes us a lot more compliant because we’re choosing consistency over perfection which always gets us a whole lot farther in the long run.
Yes, this stuff takes practice. Yes, this take time. A LONG TIME! But the outcome far outweighs saying where you are now in the all-or-nothing, black & white, good vs bad mentality.