5 Things Anyone who Struggles with Overeating Needs to Know about Emotional Eating (Part Five)

July 23rd, 2014, No Comments »

In this series, 5 Things Anyone who Struggles with Overeating Needs to Know about Emotional Eating, I’m covering critical information – and case studies – about emotional eating and what you need to know (and do) to break free.

The series so far:
In part one I shared how emotional eating can operate outside your awareness and shared what to do if you can’t stop eating. Part two covered the toll that emotional eating can take – even if you are not overweight. In part three you learned why willpower is not the best strategy for getting results, how it can even make struggles with food worse, and what you can start doing instead. In part four I told you about one thing you can do that will make a huge difference – and you don’t have to worry about getting it just right or perfect.

The fifth thing you need to know about emotional eating
(and one simple change to make today)

emotional eating fiveIf you haven’t figured out how to end your struggles with emotional eating, it’s NOT because you are lazy and you need to be harder on yourself.

I get it. You are a smart woman and you are used to creating results in your life. You are probably someone who is talented at making things happen. You’re used to being effective – except in this one area. Odds are that you are pretty frustrated and you may be blaming yourself.

Smart, busy high achievers often make the mistake of blaming their overeating on laziness.

“I’m just lazy.”

“I know if I’d just ___________, I’d lose the weight. I’m just not trying hard enough.”

This is what Kate (not her real name) said to me when we started to work together. Not only was she feeling out of control with her eating and her weight, she was frustrated with herself and embarrassed by her “laziness” and “lack of discipline.” The guilt and shame she carried took a toll on her confidence, added to her stress, and often even made the stress eating and comfort eating worse.

She knew what she needed to do to change her eating, she just couldn’t do it. And this, Kate had decided, was because she was lazy.

Things shifted for Kate when we started working together and she realized that what she was telling herself wasn’t true. She wasn’t lazy. Just taking a look at her calendar confirmed this easily. Kate was busy, over-extended at times, stressed, and exhausted.

Emotional eating is an attempt to cope.
Healing it calls for better coping strategies. (Click to tweet)

Kate started to create lasting peace with food when she stopped believing she was a lazy person who needed to work harder and accepted that she used food to help her cope with her emotions, the demands she felt from others, and her exhaustion.

When she was able to stop calling herself names and instead look at the situation with self-compassion, she saw things differently. Using my Peace with Food approach, she was able to get clear on why food was so important to her and new strategies that she could use to replace food. She quickly saw what a toll the self-blame had taken.

Every time I thought about how lazy I was, I felt like a big, fat failure. I felt more stuck and what I needed to do felt even more impossible. I was so mad at myself that all I wanted to do was go to the refrigerator and shovel in food. When I was blaming my eating on laziness, the only solution was for me to work harder. I see now how that was never going to work. I was actually eating to try to deal with how exhausted I already was!

You aren’t lazy and you don’t need more willpower to take control of emotional eating. What works is taking care of the reasons you overeat.

Breaking cycles of self-blame and starting to approach emotional eating with compassion can be difficult to do on your own – especially if this is a pattern that’s been operating in your life for years. This is one of the critical pieces I’ll help you with in Peace with Food Plus and it’s one of the places where the live group coaching piece of the program is most helpful.

Making peace with food requires breaking free of vicious cycles that aren’t working for you (and are probably making things worse). Sometimes it’s hard to see what you are doing that’s keeping you stuck. Having the support of a program that helps you identify your blind spots and shows you how to address them with compassion can make all the difference.

Kate was adamant that she was lazy when we started to work together. When I was able to hold up a mirror and show her what an over-performing, high achiever she really was, she practically laughed out loud. This was the first step to very big changes. Having someone give her a fresh perspective made all the difference.

Do you know the stories you tell about yourself that keep you stuck or make you feel bad? Are you ready to let go of them?

Peace with Food Plus is my signature program for taking control of emotional eating and creating a relationship with food and eating that you want to continue for the rest of your life.

Enrollment is now open. Go here to reserve your spot.

Take good care,
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5 Things Anyone who Struggles with Overeating Needs to Know about Emotional Eating (Part Four)

July 16th, 2014, No Comments »

emotional eating fourEmotional eating is more complicated than most people realize, and the typical advice – “just don’t do it” – is far from helpful. In this series, 5 Things Anyone who Struggles with Overeating Needs to Know about Emotional Eating, I’m covering more information – and case studies – about emotional eating and what you need to know (and do) to break free. These articles are a companion to my Smart Solutions to Overeating video training series which I am also sharing with you (at no-cost) this month as we get ready to open enrollment to Peace with Food Plus. Be sure to click the link above to access your free training.

The series so far:

In part one I shared how emotional eating can operate outside your awareness and shared what to do if you can’t stop eating. Part two covered the toll that emotional eating can take – even if you are not overweight. In part three you learned why willpower is not the best strategy for getting results, how it can even make struggles with food worse, and what you can start doing instead.

Today we’re going to cover an essential action step for ending your struggles with emotional eating and overeating – one that packs a powerful punch, even if you do it imperfectly.

The fourth thing you need to know about emotional eating (and how to take action):

Diets (and even drastic measures like weight loss surgery) don’t give you the tools to stop emotional overeating.

Emotional eating happens for a reason (for more information about this, be sure to check out Video One of the training series).

Whether you are eating for comfort, stress eating, eating to numb your feelings, or using food as a distraction, emotional eating is an attempt to cope with something.

Breaking free from emotional eating can’t happen without tools and strategies to address the reasons you overeat. (Tweet this)

Success requires knowing what to do instead of eating. When you know how to take care of what’s triggering your hunger without turning to food, the whole game changes.

That bag of chips actually loses its power when you know how to feed the “hidden hungers” that are triggering emotional eating.

Diets don’t help you with what to do instead of eating and even something as drastic as weight loss surgery doesn’t affect the reasons that food is so powerful in your life. If you haven’t addressed the reasons, food will still call to you like a siren. Even people who have had their stomach size surgically reduced continue to struggle with emotional eating, and often experience “head hunger” or emotionally-driven cravings.

Taking the time and getting the help to develop strategies to feed these non-food hungers pays off. NOT doing so, costs big.

Darla can testify to this. She lost more than one hundred pounds after having gastric bypass surgery only to gain it all back. She regained the weight because she didn’t know what to do instead of turning to food to cope with her emotions. Even though it was uncomfortable to overeat, food was the coping strategy she had for dealing with certain situations. Without new strategies and tools, she slipped back into old patterns, despite how badly she wanted to change.

Linda is another woman who was stuck on a hamster wheel because she lacked a new approach. She was a chronic dieter who was in the same boat as many women I’ve worked with over the years. She “excelled at weight loss.” She had willpower and discipline to spare, and she’d learned what she needed to do to lose an extra ten or twenty pounds. It required a lot of work, but she knew how to do it.

Unfortunately, she didn’t have the tools she needed to stop overeating for good. The weight that Linda lost always came back when her busy season started at work and her stress increased, and losing weight become a full time preoccupation.

Are you an emotional eater? Here’s what you can do now (and you don’t have to get it perfect):

Take the time to explore the reason that your emotional eating is happening. Then, focus on addressing these reasons (sometimes called “triggers”). Experiment with new strategies – and keep experimenting. It’s okay if your results are imperfect. Learn from what works and keep adjusting your new strategies until they fit you.

Of course, there’s more to solving the emotional eating puzzle, but please don’t underestimate the power of this essential first step.

Take good care,
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PS: Video Three in the Smart Solutions series has just been released. In this brand new video that I just recorded, I’m covering roadblocks and challenges to creating peace with food – and what to do about them. Not subscribed yet? Just go here.