Emotional Eating: Can It Really Disappear? | TMOHP 017

Everyone eats emotionally from time to time, but actual struggles with emotional eating are a different beast. If you’re caught in a power struggle with emotional eating and overeating you know how exhausting this can be.

The word - the goal - I hear most frequently from my listeners and clients is freedom.

As in, “I want to be free of all of this.” I don’t want this battle with emotional eating to be taking up space inside my life and my brain anymore.” 

And then I’m often asked, “But can emotional eating really disappear?”

The answer is yes. You can deflate the power that food and eating have in your life. But it won’t happen if you keep doing the same old things that haven’t worked in the past.

It takes a new approach to create freedom from emotional eating and it all begins with a very different step. Check out this episode if you’re ready to let go of struggles for control, lose that feeling of falling off track, and if you’re done with plans to change your eating that exhaust you before you even get started.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How to know if emotional eating is a problem
  • Why “maintenance” isn’t a goal I would choose
  • How to avoid setting yourself up to struggle forever with emotional eating - and how to break up with the cycle of always needing to be in control of your eating
  • The four tenets of creating real freedom from emotional eating
  • Where (and how) to start a new approach to ending emotional eating

Featured on the show:

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out your primary Hidden Hunger and your best place to start shifting your relationship with food.
  • I cover the process of embracing your power and the other three steps to creating freedom from overeating in The 4-step Plan to Stop Overeating and Emotional Eating (a free on-demand masterclass) it’s available here. This will also give you a great introduction to my group coaching program.
  • Your Missing Peace: The Coaching Club is a group coaching program where I work with women to create freedom from overeating or emotional eating. You can choose to join us for sixteen weeks or for a full year and get started immediately!
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hello everybody. It is January, at least it's January if you're listening to this episode when it is first released. And January is that time of year when we tend to think about what it is we wanna do in the year ahead and how we're gonna do it. And if you're listening to this episode and it's not January, you're probably thinking about emotional eating and what it is that you can do about that and how you're gonna do it because of the title of this episode today, I'm gonna talk about what is really possible with emotional eating. Can you really make it disappear? Can you disappear emotional eating? Can you be with it? Can you leave it behind? Or is it something that you always have to struggle with that you always have to keep an eye on that you always, that you're always gonna have to devote a lot of energy working pretty hard to stay in control of so that you can achieve the goals that you have with food and with your eating and your health and with your wellbeing.

This question of what is possible is something that I hear a lot from women who are attracted to my programs, who wanna work with me, is it really possible? And it is a question that comes up when you start to think whether it's consciously or not. When you start to think about what you quote unquote need to do to create the changes in eating and overeating and emotional eating that you want to see in your life, what do I need to do? What am I going to have to do? That is the soundtrack that tends to run through our brains. When we start to think about making changes with food, let me back up a minute and let me be really clear that emotional eating all by itself is not a problem, everybody, or just about everybody does some emotional eating at times. Almost everybody uses food for more than fuel, right?

I mean, food is, food is delicious. Food is a sensory pleasure. Food is something to be enjoyed. Food is a part of our celebrations. There's nothing inherently wrong with, uh, using food or enjoying food or turning to food for reasons that aren't really about being hungry, emotional eating becomes a problem. When it's a problem for you, emotional eating becomes a problem when it feels like it's controlling you, or when it feels like you don't know what else to do, or when you don't like the, the impact that the eating is having in your life, but there's nothing wrong with emotional eating. You get to decide if emotional eating is a problem. And if it is something that you want to change, you get to decide always whether your relationship with food is working for you. So when I'm talking about, can you disappear emotional eating?

Can you end it? Can you be done with it? I'm not talking about having this aseptic relationship with food where <laugh>, you just, it's just fuel and hunger and you don't enjoy it at all. Or you don't relate to food in ways that aren't about fueling yourself. I'm talking about the emotional eating. That is a problem for you and whether or not you can get rid of it, whether or not you can leave it behind. And the answer is absolutely. Yes, you can. That's what we're gonna talk about in this episode. Interestingly enough, we have to start by talking about what it really means to leave emotional, eating behind, to leave struggles with food behind because deprivation thinking diet, mentality, and diet culture have probably screwed up your thinking about this, believe it or not leaving the struggle behind ending that kind of problematic emotional eating.

And I'm just gonna use the shorthand. I'm just gonna talk about emotional eating for the rest of the podcast, cuz now, you know what I mean? Ending emotional eating does not mean finding a way to create perfect control. There is a huge difference between a sense of empowerment and a sense of being in, in control, being in control is something that you have to maintain. Being in control is something that can go away. Being in control means that there is a battle or a struggle. And at the moment you have the upper hand, it is very interesting to me that that phase of most food plans and weight loss plans, where after you have achieved your goal, that phase is usually referred to as maintenance. And it's a pretty scary phase of the process for a lot of people because it comes with all these thoughts about, can I, right?

Can I maintain, how am I to maintain? How long am I going to maintain? Guess what being in maintenance is, is part of that struggle, that diet mentality, and deprivation thinking sets up for us, being in maintenance is being in that place of how long can I stay in control. Being in and maintenance is not feeling and being empowered. It's not peace with food and it's not freedom from overeating. So if you wanna be done with emotional eating, if you really want to be free from that kind of overeating, then you need to have a new goal. The goal becomes, empower yourself. The goal becomes taking your power back and the goal becomes deflating. The power that food has in your life, deflating the power that eating and turning to food and walking into the kitchen has taking that power back. So there isn't a power struggle anymore.

I know this can sound very conceptual and it's also really important. Something that my listeners tell me over and over and over again is that I am so tired. I am so tired of thinking about this stuff. I am so tired of the space that food and my eating and my weight and my struggles with all this stuff take up in my brain. I am so tired of having this be the first thing I think about every morning. I am so tired of having good days and bad days and feeling like my life is controlled by food. I so tired. I want you to think about it this way. A struggle for control perpetuates that tiredness. And it, it is a struggle of control is, is underlaid by all those kinds of thoughts, right? You just always have to be on top of them. The kind of freedom from emotional eating and over eating that I'm talk about is when you have settled into a way of eating and a way of being with food that is natural and that fits you so that you don't have to make deliberate thoughts about it all the time.

You don't need to make deliberate efforts because you know, what do it's comfortable? It fits. It works for you and you're getting your needs met. You're not pushing them down or needing to use extra control and discipline to, to stay on top of them or to stay, you know, to stay apart from your needs that aren't getting met. Make sense. So think about it. Most of the time when people decide, okay, is January, I'm gonna change my eating. Well, they say, I'm gonna take control of this emotional eating, right? Most of the time, people start by setting up a battle for control a struggle. A if you wanna be free from emotional eating and overeating, then you have to do it differently. You have to approach it differently and you have to set the whole thing, the whole process up differently. Here's what I'm gonna suggest to you.

Instead of setting up a struggle for control and a path where the end result is something that you have to maintain. What I would challenge you to do. And this is the exact process that we use in my missing piece group coaching program is to reverse engineer things. We need to reverse engineer things and work backwards from the U that is free from overeating. We need to reverse engineer a process that has created a you that isn't struggling to maintain a you that has freedom from overeating and peace with food. We start with that endpoint. Who is she? What is she like? How does she live? How does she approach her problems? How does she get her needs met? And then we reverse engineer back and create a path that builds you these things and takes your power back from food and from overeating and from emotional eating.

This is so different than diet mentality and the deprivation thinking that is just so ingrained in that, that if you have had ongoing struggles with overeating and emotional eating, it's probably just feels like reality. It probably just feels like this is how you need to think about things, right? You need to think about, okay, where is my eating a problem? How am I gonna change my eating? What am I gonna buy at the grocery store? What am I gonna tell myself? I need to eat? What do I need to stay away from? What do I need to get out of my cupboards? All of that is a deprivation approach. And, and I think one of the ways to keep thinking about it is am I setting myself up for something hard that I am going to need to maintain the end? That's a, that's a signal that you're on the deprivation path.

All right, doing it differently is going to feel so different. And in fact, it's going to feel to your deprivation trained brain, that you're aiming in the wrong direction. It's gonna feel like, wait a minute. Why am I not thinking about this? Why am I not doing this? I be doing the hard stuff. I should be depriving myself. One of the things that is so critical to remember when you decide that really you are ready to end the struggle with emotional eating is that you need to do it differently and doing it differently, doing anything differently, starts by focusing your thoughts and your beliefs and the stories that you tell yourself in a different direction. And that is going to feel strange and confusing and sometimes even wrong to your brain who believes, you know, your, your, your brain is gonna tell you, wait, I know what to do.

We need to be aiming over here. <laugh> we need to be doing that hard stuff. It's January. It's time to do something hard. I know, you know, this, that doing the same old thing just creates the same old results, but really let's be honest, doing something different, feels weird and awkward and graceless and really, really hard. So I'm going to give you the four tenants that I believe are essential for doing it differently because the first step in all of this is starting to starting to see that it's possible to change your focus beginning to see that there are other ways to think about this stuff and that even if you're not exactly sure what that would look like, you can think about this differently, create actions that approach it differently. You can do this whole path of changing your eating differently and that it can lead to really different results.

All right? So the four tenants that I believe are absolutely essential to creating true freedom from emotional eating. And these are actually the, the four underlying tenants of my missing peace group coaching program are the following number, be one, and this is essential and this has to be the place to start. And it is so different from deprivation. Thinking. Number one is to embrace your power. If you start from a place of having to be in control, having to maintain that is exactly where you're gonna end up, right? The journey ends up being what the destination feels like and looks like you cannot be on a path of starvation and misery and deprivation and end up feeling fulfilled and nourished, and you know, on a path that is gonna create joy and fulfillment and ease. So if you want to feel powerful and remember we're reverse engineering from that unstoppable, very of you, that has freedom from overeating and emotional eating.

Guess what? She's in charge. She is empowered. She is running the show. So the absolute first step of changing your eating in a way that is gonna last and is gonna feel good to you is to find your power again and bring your power. Start creating a way of approaching this journey that feels empowered. That builds your confidence. Instead of tears you down, start rediscovering your inner wisdom about what works for you. And if you're rolling your eyes, listen, it's really important to remember that you are the only one who's who has lived inside your body and who has had your body's relationship with food for your whole life. You do know what is best for you. You do know how to take the information that comes at you from the rest of the world and filter it through what you know about you. You may be disconnected from it, and you probably are.

If you have spent a lot of time in deprivation thinking and diet mentality, and learning how to connect with yourself again, learning how to trust yourself again, learning how to tap into your inner wisdom and to, to find ways being with food that feel empowering and build your confidence, instead of fill you with guilt and shame and self blame, and, you know, lead to all sorts of name calling and telling yourself it's all your fault and you're lazy and you're undisciplined and all that other stuff, embracing your power is critical. If you want to feel powerful at the end, that is step one. It is not just step one. Actually it is, it is the place to start, but it is something that is gonna be so critical to come back to over and over and over and over again throughout the process. The second tenant of really disappearing ending struggles with emotional eating is to ditch the diet, right?

Ditch the diet ditch, the deprivation thinking, learn how to tune into a new way of thinking. That is really about creating a relationship with food that works for you. What do I mean by that? Your brain is prob be so full of rules and shoulds and other people's ideas of how you should eat shoulds. <laugh> how you should eat and what will work and what you shouldn't do. And probably half of them conflict with each other. I can tell you this. I have been doing this long enough to know there is not one way of eating that works forever. Everyone, food freedom happens when you tune into and discover through trial and error, the way of eating that works for you, the way of eating, that feels good for you. The way of eating that is a match for your lifestyle and your taste and your preferences and for your or goals.

It is a process of steps. And I know that when, when your brain has been hijacked by deprivation thinking, this can just sound like gobbly cook, right? Like what the heck does it mean to have food? Freedom? What do you mean a way of eating that works for me? What does that mean? What do I give up? How many points do I count? Do I act things? Do I take a deep breath? Because again, that is why, that is why the whole process has to start with a sense of empowerment, a sense of reminding yourself that I can figure this out. I may need help. I may need new tools and strategies, but I can figure this out. I can listen to myself. I learn things there isn't a right and a wrong way to do that. Only I can figure out what is a good fit for me.

Food freedom means figuring out what it is that you really need, and the reasons that food has been so powerful for you. If you're emotional eating, it may me, you know, what are the feelings that I have been turning to food to cope with, or to push down or to push away? What would help me care for myself with these feelings? What are the muscles that would be helpful to grow or that I could use some help growing so that I have some options other than turning to food. When I feel certain things, or when I find myself in certain situations, again, taking your power back, how can I feel more powerful? What are the ways that I can feel like I have more flexibility in getting what I need or in taking care of myself or responding to my feelings or my needs so that food doesn't have the upper hand food has the upper hand when it feels like it's the only choice.

I mean, let's be real. You are not emotionally eating because you are lazy or ineffective or because you don't have enough self control. You're a smart woman. You solve all sorts of problems in your life. If you are stuck in a pattern of emotional eating it's because it is the best thing or the only thing, you know, how to do in this particular set of circumstances, creating a, a relationship with food that works for you means that it's not just about the food. It's definitely not just about the food. It's about, know why food currently has the power that it does in your life and starting to generate some new ways of taking your power back so that you can get your needs met in, in better ways, in ways that work better in ways that nourish you better in, in ways that take care of you better.

And when that happens, food doesn't have power anymore. Are you've taken your power back. You are empowered. You know how to take care of yourself in ways that have nothing to do with walking into the kitchen. So embracing your power, ditching the diet, and creating a relationship with food that works for you. And then the third tenant that is so essential and so different from deprivation thinking and diet mentality, and related to the first two is to promote yourself to CEO of your wellbeing. This is a term that we use a lot in your missing piece, but I want you to really imagine you sitting at the, the head of a conference table, calling the shots, right? You making the decisions you deciding if something feels right or not. Remember in order not to create a plan that requires maintaining control in a struggle, we're reverse engineering.

We're starting by envisioning you free from emotional eating and overeating. Someone who has her needs met someone who feels nourished. Someone who feels taken care of in such ways that food just doesn't call to her. She doesn't feel compelled to wander into the kitchen or over to the vending machine, right? Because she has what she needs and the kind of overeating that is a struggle for you now isn't necessary anymore. So the other piece of becoming the CEO of your wellbeing and your life is showing up for yourself like a CEO instead of reacting to your life. Instead of trying to cram yourself into non non-existence spaces, being the CEO of your wellbeing means showing up for your wellbeing, like a CEO. And that means figuring out the self care piece, it means tough questions like, okay, how do I get my needs met without turning to food?

What do I do about the tough feelings? How can I care for myself? How can I talk to myself more nicely instead of like, <laugh> like, you know, this person that I would never, I would never talk this way to anyone in real life. How can I show up for myself like a CEO? This is such an important question, but I want you to really think about the you that you wanna be at the end, when you have achieved your goal, we create the you that you are at the end of achieving your goal by learning how to be that you all throughout the process. Again, I know this might sound like a lot. There are a number of steps involved in this. It is the entire framework, you know, that people work through in my group coaching program. What I want you to take away from this episode, isn't this, uh, you know, this feeling of, oh my gosh, I have to figure all these things out.

No, that deprivation thinking what we're doing now is creating a framework that you can use to start to move your thoughts in a different direction, to start to move your thoughts and your beliefs. And by moving your thoughts and your beliefs in a different direction, you can start to shape different actions so that you can start to create your own path for really breaking free of these habits, with food that aren't serving you when you really get it. And, and that doesn't mean just listening and nodding your head, but it, it means practicing the thoughts and thinking about this whole topic in a new way, when you really get it, that the dust nation is shaped by the flavor of the journey that you take. And when you really start aiming for a destination that feels peaceful and expansive and free from these struggles, when you really spend the time.

And that's one of things we do in the missing piece program is spend the time really getting clear on who is that you, who is that empowered you, who is free from the struggles? What do you know about her? How does she show up? How does she deal with problems? What does she need that you don't have? What kind of support does she have when you can really embrace this way of thinking, it almost naturally leads you to the fourth tenant that you absolutely need to have to make emotional eating struggles disappear. And that's what I call forever freedom. That is that path that you are on, that not only takes you to whatever the goal is, have, where you say, oh my gosh, I did it right. But it's a path that then you feel great about staying on. It's a path that doesn't feel like maintenance.

It's just the way you are with food and getting on that path of forever. Freedom means taking a look at all the reasons that the things that you've tried in the past, haven't worked and taking a look, not from a place of self blame and judgment and shame, which is deprivation thinking and diet mentality, right? That's the idea that if something didn't work it's because you didn't try hard enough, you didn't sacrifice enough. You didn't have enough willpower putting that all to the side and being honest with yourself, knowing what you do about yourself and your life and asking, okay, what do I know about why these things didn't work? And what does that tell me about what it is that I really need? How can I use what didn't work, you know, to build better path forward for me. So here's what we've covered.

Emotional eating can and struggles with emotional eating can go away. They, emotional eating does not have to be something that you have to be endlessly in control of, or always falling out of control of. And, and all of that starts with learning how to change your approach and your thinking from a self control deprivation approach to an empowered approach until you make that shift, everything will be seen through that old lens of diet and mentality and deprivation. So one more thing, because it's January, you may be listening to this and thinking, oh, this just sounds like so much. How do I, you know, how do I do this? I could, I could go on an eight week <laugh> I could go on an eight week deprivation plan and maybe I could see a difference. Maybe it would work this time. This sounds like a lot.

Imagine what you could accomplish, what could be different next year at this time, if you focused on doing these new things and thinking these new thoughts and aiming in this new direction, if you focused on doing things differently for a year, small steps, imperfectly trying new things, learning new thoughts, practicing new practices, what could be different a year from now? Here's the thing we so drastically underestimate what can happen in a year. I mean, look back through your calendar. Look at us 12 months and all the things that have transpired in the last year. I'm not even talking about your, your own accomplishments. We didn't have a vaccine a year ago. Right? Think about the things that happened in January and February and March and April, that now seems so far away. Where could you be next year at this time, if you committed to doing things differently, to aiming your thoughts in a different direction.

And if that just sounds like something you're not able to grasp, I want to ask you the opposite. You've been around this cycle a couple of times, where will you be a from now? If you keep doing it the same way, it's not gonna be perfect. Remember what I said about how clumsy and graceless, it can feel to try to think new thoughts and, and try to practice moving in a different direction. It's it's going to be messy and it will lead you to a different destination than the one you've been consistently ending up at. So take a deep breath and go easy on yourself and spend some time today, beginning to picture her that you, that you're gonna reverse engineer from that you who is free from overeating. What do you know about her? How does she feel taken care of? What does she need? What does she believe? What do you know about her? And you don't have to work on this stuff alone. There is a group of like-minded women that we meet on coaching calls three times a month, and use all sorts of tools to embrace our power ditch. The diet, promote ourselves to CEO of our wellbeing and create freedom. That is forever. Yes. Emotional eatings struggles really can disappear. I'll talk to 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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