Emotional 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.
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 I’m exploring 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. 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 my online course, 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 the Overeating Freedom Formula 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.
There are some real 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.
Take good care,