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

July 12th, 2014, No Comments »

emotional eating threeEmotional eating is one of the major reasons smart, busy women overeat, gain weight, and REGAIN the weight they work so hard to lose. In part three of 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 to break free. This article series is 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 to access your free videos.

In part one of this article series, I shared how emotional eating can operate outside your awareness and gave you some powerful examples. In part two I covered the cost and effects of emotional eating and told you about Diane, whose life was affected every day by emotional eating – even though she was not overweight. Today will explore a topic that you may have heard me cover before, but it’s such a trap for smart, busy women, that it’s important enough to cover again.

The third thing you need to know about emotional eating:

Willpower doesn’t fix emotional eating and pushing yourself to have more willpower might even make things worse. Busy women and high-performers LOVE their willpower. In fact, we tend to have quite a bit of it. The problem is that relying on willpower is a bit like holding your breath to get through a painful experience. You can do it for a while, but if the painful experience lasts too long, you’re going to run out of reserves (no matter how great your lung capacity!).

Not only is willpower a limited resource that will eventually run out, living on willpower is not fun or easy and doing so takes constant focus. Remember Diane in Part Two? She was surviving on willpower and discipline, but she was definitely not enjoying the ride.

There’s a third reason that willpower is not a workable strategy for taking control of emotional eating. If you’ve been watching my video training series, you know that overeating happens for a reason – always. When you fight emotional eating with willpower (“I just won’t eat when I am anxious!”), you aren’t addressing the hidden hunger or trigger that food has been soothing. The hunger is still there, and the urge to use food to take care of it will return. Even worse, if you are focused on willpower instead of on creating lasting peace with food, you’re likely to end up feeling frustrated with yourself. If the plan is to rely on willpower and you run out, the logical interpretation is that YOU failed. Again. And that feeling of failure? It often leads to another round of emotional eating.

Relying on willpower to control your eating can create vicious cycles that make things worse.

Becky is a great example of how a peace with food approach can be much more effective. When Becky joined Peace with Food, she was eating ice cream every night as a treat for all the hard work she accomplished during the day. She had a high-stress job, and evening, after everyone else was in bed, was her only me-time. As determined as she was, willpower continuously failed her and she almost always ended up sitting alone, eating a big bowl of sweet stuff. The ice cream was more powerful than she was until she used Peace with Food strategies to stop relying on willpower and instead figure out why she was eating and what she was really craving. Becky discovered that she was eating to feed a hidden hunger to feel recognized, rewarded, and supported. When she took the next steps that we designed to address her hidden hungers, her strong cravings for ice cream went away.

Video Two in the Smart Solutions to Overeating video training is where I bust some myths about what it takes to stop overeating. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be as hard as most of us make it. If you haven’t checked out the video series yet, you can access it by clicking the link.

There are two more important things you should know about emotional eating and I’ll be sharing these in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Take good care,
mm-sig

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

July 9th, 2014, No Comments »

emotional eating part twoEmotional eating is one of the major reasons smart, busy women overeat, gain weight, and REGAIN the weight they work so hard to lose. Today I’m sharing part two in my series, 5 Things Anyone who Struggles with Overeating Needs to Know about Emotional Eating (if you missed Part One, you can find that here.)

This article series is a companion to my Smart Solutions to Overeating video series which I am also sharing with you (at no-cost) this month as we prepare to open enrollment to Peace with Food Plus.

In Part One of this article series, I shared how emotional eating can operate outside your awareness and gave you some powerful examples of hidden hungers and emotional eating. Today, let’s talk about the time, energy, and confidence that emotional eating and overeating cost you. Many women are concerned about emotional eating because they want to lose weight, but emotional eating struggles go even deeper than this. In fact, for some women, emotional eating happens even at their “ideal” weight.

Here’s the second thing you need to know about emotional eating:

You don’t have to be overweight to be stuck and unhappy with emotional eating. There are plenty of women who are at a healthy weight who rely on food to cope with feelings or who feel out of control with their eating in certain situations. You don’t have to binge eat or eat constantly to be an emotional eater. Most people eat emotionally sometimes. Emotional eating becomes a problem, even for women who are not overweight, when your relationship with food takes up time or energy that you would rather spend on other things, when it is affecting your weight, your health, or your happiness, or when you feel dependent on it and feel trapped or at a loss for how you might do things differently. Emotional eating can leave you feeling out of control, ineffective, irritable, and frustrated with yourself – definitely not a recipe for success and thriving.

That’s exactly what happened to Diane. Diane wasn’t overweight, but she felt like she was always on a diet (or falling off of one). She was tired of cycling between strict “discipline” and stress eating that felt out of control. She was an emotional eater and worked very hard to be “strong” and to not “give in to food.” Diane never felt like she could take her weight or her pant size for granted. Staying the weight she wanted to be required a lot of vigilance and hard work. She tracked her food choices and her activity in a variety of ways and was sick of how much time it took. Diane sometimes avoided social situations because she didn’t trust herself to make “the right” food choices. She felt like she was constantly battling mindless eating. Finally, Diane was bored and unhappy with the narrow range of food that she felt she could eat and “be healthy.”

Diane was the size she wanted to be, but she definitely felt like food and weight were controlling her (rather than feeling in charge of her life). She did not feel peaceful with food at all and sounded exhausted when she talked about “always needing to be on top of this stuff.”

Although I never worked with Diane, I have worked with hundreds of women (at least) who believed that food would always be a struggle and that in order to “win,” they were going to need to stay alert and disciplined (more on this in Video Two of my free series). They never felt confident about any results they had achieved and usually worried that the weight could come back.

This is because they are missing a critical piece of the puzzle (and you may be too).

Diane was working WAY too hard because she was lacking an effective strategy for taking control of the reasons food was such a struggle. Instead, Diane tried to take control of emotional eating without tools and without a plan. She didn’t know what to do instead of eating or how to make her cravings dissolve. She had no method to take her focus OFF of eating and food. Diane’s only strategy was “don’t do it.”

Spending your life “not doing” something is like holding on for dear life. It’s certainly not peaceful, fun, or easy. And it’s not a recipe for success that’s likely to last.

The cost of emotional eating and overeating goes far beyond weight. These struggles can literally take the joy out of life. In my Smart Solutions to Overeating video training series, I share the 4R approach to breaking out of overeating patterns that don’t work and creating peace with food. This series is available at no-cost, but only for a limited time. To get access (or to watch the videos if you’ve already signed up), just click the link.

There’s more to know about emotional eating. I’ll be back in a few days with the next installment.

Take good care,
mm-sig