5 Steps to Get Back on Track after Overeating

March 19th, 2014, No Comments »

how to get on track after overeatingOverindulged? Eaten more than you planned? Maybe you feel like you’ve completely blown your weight loss plan or come face to face with the fact that it just isn’t going to work for you.

When you’ve been eating too much, here are five steps to get back on track. (Click to tweet)

  1. Keep overeating in perspective. Eating too much, even a binge, is not going to make you instantly obese or permanently erase weight loss progress you’ve already made. What does have the ability to sink you is the way you think about what’s happened. You want to avoid the “now I’ve blown it, I might as well finish the whole bag” syndrome or the “I ate too much now I have to starve myself all day tomorrow” mindset (which just sets you up to get too hungry and “blow it” again at the end of the day). The smart, effective approach is to acknowledge that overeating happened, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward. Let yourself off the hook. Beating yourself up or laying on the guilt isn’t going to help you lose weight (and it may well trigger emotional eating).
  2. Drink a glass of water and squeeze in some exercise. Make your next step, your very next action, a smart one that you feel good about. Hydrate, go for a walk, dance around your living room or work up a sweat. Even ten minutes devoted to taking a positive step can help you reset and believe that you have course-corrected and are back on track. This will also help you start to cement in the habit of course-correcting after you encounter hiccups or get thrown off track in the future.
  3. Exchange guilt and self-blame for curiosity. Instead of feeling frustrated with yourself, treat a binge or a situation where you ate too much as a learning  opportunity. You’ve got valuable data here and you can either learn and grow from it, or ignore it and probably end up in the same place again soon. Ask power questions – Why did I overeat? What triggered me? Why was this situation so difficult or challenging? Why was I eating on autopilot?
  4. Be proactive about what to do instead of eating (in the future). Often, overeating (especially emotional eating) is triggered by situations or feelings that really have nothing to do with food. When you feel like you’ve gone overboard or blown your food plan, it’s an important time to look at what you might need that you aren’t getting in the rest of your life. Could you really be craving rest or comfort or recognition or stress relief instead of chocolate? Spend the time considering how you can better feed your soul instead of your stomach in the future.
  5. Use what you don’t know about your overeating to win your weight loss battle. If stress eating got you again and you feel frustrated because you don’t know what to do instead of eating, you’ve just targeted a new path to peace with food. Instead of focusing on controlling what you eat and having the willpower not to stress eat, you will be more successful if you seek out new tools and strategies for addressing stress. A powerful tack for taking control of overeating is to ask yourself “What missing pieces could help me feel more powerful with food?”  This question alone can be a game changer.

How do you get back on track after overeating – whether it’s been a meal, a week, or even a year? Share the tricks, tips, and strategies that work for you in the comments below.

Take good care,

Melissa McCreery

Emotional Eating – Should I Keep a Food Diary?

March 5th, 2014, No Comments »

healthy eating weight loss“It’s time to lose weight . . . My emotional eating is out of control . . . I’ve put on 20 pounds because of stress eating . . . Should I keep a food diary?”

Whether or not to keep a food diary when you are trying to make peace with food, take control of emotional eating, or lose weight is something women frequently ask about. Actually, quite often, it’s not phrased as a question. What I typically hear is “I know. I should be logging my food and keeping a food diary.  Right?”  

A food diary can be helpful. Incredibly helpful. There’s a reason that Weight Watchers® and many other weight loss programs use them.  The other side of the coin (and all too common) is that keeping a food log can put many women on the road to self-sabotage.  Most women view logging their food as a really unpleasant idea, and they tend to avoid it like the plague.

Like so many other things, the usefulness and power of a food journal can be determined by the approach you take with it.

Has logging your food been useful to you?

Here’s what’s not very helpful. It’s not helpful to know something is good for you, but to dread it so much that you don’t do it. It’s not helpful to believe that logging your food intake will help you eat better, but feel so uncomfortable recording what you eat, that you lie to yourself, or skip the process on days when your eating isn’t what you want it to be. It’s not helpful to approach a food log as a tool to create “perfect eating,” as in, “I know if I force myself to write down every single thing I eat, I won’t eat anything ‘bad.’”

How can you make keeping a food diary an effective strategy?

There are definitely benefits to keeping a food log. If you’ve read The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan for Smart, Busy Women, you know that I’m a strong believer in using tools to journal about your eating. You’ll even find a downloadable food diary of sorts (the ME Log™) in the book (although it’s definitely not what you’re probably used to).

If the idea of logging your food puts a bad taste in your mouth, here are some tips for turning it into a tool that can dramatically boost your effectiveness:

 

View your food log as a tool for empowerment.

If you make the decision to record what you are eating (and when, and why), you have also decided there is value in doing so. Own it. Stop feeding the belief that you are a passive or suffering participant in the process. Stop telling yourself the story  that this is something you have to do or that you hate doing or that you won’t like. If you decide to keep a food diary, start crafting the mindset that this is a power tool. This is a ritual you are going to use to empower yourself and to grow your effectiveness. Make a list of the benefits of recording what you eat. For instance, keeping a food journal can help you slow down, eliminate unconscious or autopilot eating, identify your emotional eating triggers, be more aware of your portions and your hunger and your fullness levels.

It’s not a report card, it’s a data collection system.

Stop judging yourself or punishing yourself for what you record about your eating. There is absolutely no benefit to it. Instead, start learning from it. Stop viewing your food log as a report card and focusing only on the grade you give yourself. The real payoff of keeping one is the data you collect. Think about it. If you only collect data on the days that things go very well, you aren’t collecting much information. Give yourself permission to grow by exploring your imperfection and the struggles that you have with food.

Always be learning.

Once you’ve made your food diary habit a data collection system, there are no “bad” days to record. There are simply experiences that have more learning than others. Once you stop looking only for “screw ups” and “great days” you can start really mining the power of the food diary. You can start asking questions like:

“Why did I eat so much sugar on Wednesday?”

“Why was Tuesday so much easier?”

“Why do I always end up at the vending machine after staff meetings?”

“Why does my eating feel more in control in the morning?”

“What helped me do so well today when yesterday was so challenging?”

THESE are the million dollar questions that can lead to exponential changes in the way you eat, and ultimately, in what you weigh.

Design your own food log.

Start with something simple, the ME Log™,  or a food log of your own design. Then take the always be learning principle to make your food diary your own. You get to decide what makes it most effective. What are the elements you need to record? What are the questions that are most useful to ask? What are the times of day or the days that using it is the most helpful? Step into the driver’s seat and create a habit and a method that brings you the results that you crave.

Have you found success keeping a food log? I’d love to hear about what has worked for you. Leave a comment and let me know!

Take good care,

Melissa McCreery