Breaking Automatic Overeating Habits | Transitions (Part One) | TMOHP 006

Have you ever wished life came with a pause button? Take a moment and consider - if you had a pause button - would you allow yourself to use it? If you’re someone who wants to change patterns of overeating or emotional eating, it’s worth exploring whether or not you’re using food and eating as your pause button - or if you’re stuck in the pattern of depriving yourself of transitions.

This is such an important topic - even if you think it doesn’t apply to you. You might be surprised.

Listen to this episode of the podcast to learn more about why you might be overeating and why some places or times in your life are always more challenging than others. Most importantly, let’s talk about how to handle transitions without overeating.

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What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • The power of transitions, the cost of ignoring them, and how they can help you take your power back from food and overeating
  • Recognizing transition points in your day and your life
  • Why the end of the day can trigger overeating and emotional eating
  • How to handle transitions without overeating

Featured on the show:

Episode Transcript

In this episode, I’m going to talk about one of the most common setups for overeating, at least for busy women. And there’s a good chance it’s happening completely outside of your awareness.

Tell me if any of these sound familiar to you:

A client I had just begun working with had been trying to lose the same weight for as long as she could remember. What she couldn’t get a handle on was emotional eating and overeating at night. She would eat well all day, but once she walked through the front door, her plans and her intentions with food fell apart.

Another new client travels a lot for work (or used to). At the time, she was stuck in a pattern of getting on track with exercise, eating, and me-time and seeing it crumble into inactivity and stress eating when she hit the road. 

And then there’s someone else I worked with who was incredibly busy running her successful company. She was hellbent on making time for herself—both to ease her stress and to have more fun. But, no matter how firm her resolve, after work, she’d hit a wall of exhaustion, and not feel able to motivate herself to do the stuff she knew would make her feel better.

When I started working with each of these women, they felt trapped, frustrated with themselves, and completely ineffective with their plans for change. The thing is, their very different situations were being caused by the same problem—and it’s one I see creating a lot of stress, emotional eating, irritability, and negativity,  and a loss of confidence in their ability to make changes for many, MANY women.

Let’s talk about the power of transitions and whether you’re using eating as a pause button.

When you’re busy, your day can seem like an endless list of things to do, it can feel like you’re always racing off to do the next thing. Stress and overwhelm make it worse, and the desire to be productive can lead to doing and doing and more doing.

Always moving to the next thing, thinking about a million things at once, checking your email while you wait for Zoom to log you into your next meeting.

When this happens, we tend to ignore the transitions in our life.

Well, we don’t necessarily ignore them, we just plow through them, book ourselves over them,  and never stop going and doing and reacting to the next thing in front of us.

And then, we overeat.

Members in my Missing Peace program were sharing the places they still struggle with overeating, it started to become clear that each person, who had a very different struggle, was actually talking about the same thing.

Overeating and emotional eating crop up in the spaces between things - when we are in transition..

A few examples of transitions are:

  • Coming home from work

  • Going on or returning from vacation

  • Shifting from the workweek to the weekend

  • Finishing a project or a meeting and moving on to the next task

  • In the car on the way to the next thing.

  • At the office when one meeting is over and it’s time to dive into a project.

  • After dinner and before bed.

  • Looking at your to-do list and not feeling clear about where to start.

Transitions are a place of disruption between one pattern or flow (like being at work) and another (arriving home and stepping into the things you do there).

Grabbing something to eat at those times can be a reaction, made on autopilot.

If you don’t manage transitions, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

While productivity experts are clear about the importance of paying attention to transitions, busy high-performers can be terrible about this. In fact, it’s a major cause of getting caught in vicious cycles with overwhelm, overload, and overeating.

Transitions are a place where many smart, busy women grab something to eat—mindlessly out of habit, as a way of procrastinating “the next thing,” getting an energy boost, or even rewarding yourself while simultaneously forging ahead. When you’re in transition you are not “in the flow” or in a groove and that discomfort can be another cue to reach for something to eat.

But wait – there’s more. Busy people are not very good at paying attention to transitions – and by this, I mean pausing long enough to check in with yourself and do what you need to do to switch gears successfully for the next activity. There’s a tendency to rush on to the next thing without even pausing to catch your breath—or worse, overlap activities so there is no transition at all.

That’s what happens when you’re always running behind or multitasking, or using the nonexistent “time in between things” to text or check your email or make a quick phone call.

Forging ahead might feel necessary or productive in the moment, but not creating pauses and transitions in your day is a recipe for disaster.

To repeat myself, by transitions, I’m talking about the shift between activities, relationships, locations, and lifestyle paces that happen for all of us.

Transitions are challenging. Even the best transition can be a source of stress. Ever gone on vacation and realized your body and mind took a few days to figure out how to be on vacation? 

That’s you in transition.

Transitions work best if we acknowledge them and pay attention to what we need to navigate them successfully.

Missing transitions, rushed transitions, or even overlapping activities (denied transitions) are a recipe for mindless eating, emotional eating, stress eating, and comfort eating.

We ignore transitions when we expect ourselves to shift seamlessly from one activity or part of our life to another without breaking our stride. This happens a lot for busy working moms who may race out of their office and find themselves putting dinner on the table before they’ve even taken a deep breath or changed their clothes. Ever arrive home from work and slide in the door feeling “off” because you’re still digesting your crazy day? That’s you not quite transitioned.

It’s no surprise that evening is often described as the most stressful part of the day (and the time when most people overeat). A big reason is the multiple transitions that are happening in a busy household: work to home, school to home, professional to head chef and bottle washer, CEO to loving partner, etc.

So how can you use transitions to change patterns of overeating and emotional eating?

Here’s an easy recipe for handling transitions without overeating:

For best results, resist the urge to overcomplicate this.

  1. Start noticing the transition points in your day and in your life. 

Chances are pretty good that these are also some of your most challenging points of the day.

  1. Once you’ve identified your transition points, create small ways to pause and center or check in with yourself before you move on to the next thing. 

The easiest way to start is to create teeny tiny rituals or habits that you do when you are transitioning. By small I mean small.

Things like:

Get up and stretch.

Go fill your water glass.

Take ten deep breaths.

Walk around the office or your house.

Change your clothes or wash your face (when you get home from work).

Brew a cup of tea.

Take a ten-minute break (decadent, I know!).

Catch your breath. Ask yourself what you need to be at your best in the next segment (post-transition) of your life. Make a list if you need to.

Pay attention to whether there is residue from the thing you just left that needs to be put away or shaken off.

Do something tangible to signify that you are shifting gears. Wash your face, change your clothes, put on some music, or unpack and put away your suitcase.

A client shared a lovely new ritual of stopping to light a candle when she gets home as a way to mark her transition. Another client marks the transition into mealtime by stopping and blessing her food.

  1. As you pay more attention to your transitions, notice the role that eating plays during these times. Look for Hidden Hungers and pay attention to whether you’re using the food to feed. You may amaze yourself with what you discover.

Pause, center, and move forward. It can be this simple.

There’s one more thing. If your life is so over-booked that it feels like you barely have transitions, you’re probably guilty of major overlapping. Try giving yourself the grace of padding your schedule with five extra minutes between things (we’re starting small here).

If you’ve been stuck in this pattern you may have  to overcome the discomfort of “having extra time” or the temptation to “use it to squeeze in one more thing.” When you do, you’ll notice pretty quickly how much better it feels to have that transition time – and how you feel more in control with eating, and with their life.

If you want more help with this - and if you want to be a part of a group of like-minded women who are making powerful changes with their relationship with food - check out my free Master Class where you can learn all about my Missing Peace program. And get yourself in there!

Honoring transitions doesn’t require a lot of time, but doing so can have a big impact.

I’ll see you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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