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,
mm-sig

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.

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