Emotional Eating Help: Ask the Right Questions | TMOHP 015

It’s entirely normal to say you want to create freedom from emotional eating and then create a plan that moves you in the opposite direction. Years of living in a culture focused on productivity and diet mentality will reinforce thoughts and behaviors that only leave you feeling deprived or blaming yourself for any lack of results.

And yes, there is a better way. One that works better, and one that feels better. And you can get started on it right away.

Before you dive into another plan to stop emotional eating or to lose weight, it’s well worth exploring whether you’ve been asking the right questions - the questions that will help you target a path that leads to a relationship with food - and a way of eating - that works for you.

In this episode, I’ve got a list of powerful questions for you. Take the time to listen and to hear your responses. And then - take action!

If you want more help, be sure to check out my group program, Your Missing Peace. The doors are open and there’s a community of like-minded women waiting for you. This free Master Class will give you all the information on how things work and will allow you to access a very special discount - especially when you choose to join me for the full year!

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why traditional approaches don’t help you create a peaceful relationship with food
  • How to ask better questions - and get better information about what you need to do next
  • How to step outside of deprivation thinking and diet mentality - even if you have a long relationship with these approaches
  • How as little as five minutes a day can begin to change your relationship with food

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.
  • Private Coaching for Emotional Eating and Overeating: I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Skype or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Private coaching is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. I don't know about you, but sometimes my brain works like a fire hose. I have a million thoughts at once. And so sometimes when I sit down to create a podcast episode, I have some difficulty and it's not that I don't know what I wanna talk about. It's that I feel like there are about 12 things that need to be talked about at once. And I somehow want to go in all those different directions at the same time. And then I create some overwhelm and then I get stuck. Interestingly enough, our brain works in a very similar way, or at least a lot of brains work in a very similar way when it comes to about how to make changes with emotional eating or overeating, or with your relationship with food. We are conditioned by society, by our history, by so many different things, to focus on productivity, especially if you are living in the Western world, there is such an emphasis on doing, and that is hyper exaggerated.

When there is something that we are anxious about because in that situation, our brains are primed to go into panic mode. What do I need to do? What do I need to do? It's a focus on productivity and doing something. And it isn't helpful when it comes to changing your relay with food, but it's what we tend to do. So if you're not happy with your eating, if you're not happy with the number on the scale, and you're thinking about making changes, the first thing you and your thoughts probably wanna do is to make a long to-do list of what you are going to need to do. And if you have spent any of amount of time in deprivation thinking or the whole diet mentality, that list of what you need to do is probably going to be based on deprivation on what you're not going to do, actually on what you are going to take away from yourself.

A list of things that you are going to be strong about, right? It's a list of what you need to give up, to get to your goal. I am here to tell you that if you truly wanna create peace with food and freedom from overeating, you need to learn to give this pattern up, focusing on productivity, especially focusing on the kind of productivity that is based on deprivation and diet mentality, doing without will not serve you. It will not create peace with food, and it definitely will not create lasting results. The diet game is a struggle and getting good at the diet game is setting yourself up so that you feel enough that you can somehow show up every morning or most mornings and win at that struggle. Peace with food and freedom from overeating is about dissolving the struggle, creating a relationship with food that feels good, that serves you, that you want to have, that you enjoy having, and that you don't have any problem having for the rest of your life.

You don't have to conjure up some kind of discipline or determination to keep going with it because it doesn't require grit. It is the relationship with food that you have chosen, and that works for you. And that doesn't include emotional eating or overeating that stresses you out and overwhelms you and leaves you feeling out of control. It's a relationship with food that you have chosen. So I on the prize <laugh> what do I mean by that? I mean, it is really important as you decide what your next step is, how you're gonna move forward with, uh, any emotional eating or overeating that you are currently struggling with. It's really important that you have your eye on the prize, that you are very clear in setting your GPS, uh, on where it is that you want to be going, what it is that you want it to look like.

And then it is so critical that you are creating steps and asking the questions and paying attention to the things that are actually going to lead you to the place that you wanna go. Instead of somewhere else, I cannot tell you how many smart, capable, high achieving brilliant women I have talked to who have set themselves up with a goal that often has to do with weight, but it always has to do with changing their eating, and they at themselves up with this goal. And they have created this list of action steps. That is hard based on deprivation thinking based on diet mentality, but have, have worked themselves up with a sense of motivation to do those things. And then I will ask them, okay, so let's say you achieve your goal, doing this stuff. Let's say you stick with it. Let's say it goes exactly as it has planned on day one.

When you wake up after achieving your goal, what's your relationship with food gonna look like? How is it that you're going to eat? How is it that you're gonna feel about food? What are you gonna do next? I cannot tell you the number of blank stairs and, and, you know, empty sign that I have been met with after asking that question. That is what happens when you have one goal and you set yourself up with a path that takes you somewhere else, or that leads you in a different direction. If what you want is to wake up in the morning and not be thinking about your relationship with food, not be wondering if it was a good day or a bad day, not be thinking about how much energy you are gonna put into thinking about your eating or thinking about not eating or wondering if you're gonna binge in the afternoon or before you go to bed.

If what you want is to let go of that stuff and have that stuff, not be an issue for you, then we need to set up a path that makes it not an issue. So it is perfectly normal. When you decide that you want to make a change to, to find your thoughts, going to a lengthy to-do list, it is perfectly normal. If you have struggle with food, take a look at that, to do list and realize this is all deprivation thinking. This is all stuff that makes me feel like I'm gonna need to be really strong to do this stuff while it is normal to do that, it is not helpful. And so what I wanna talk about today is how you can start asking the right questions, how you can take that. What do I do? Question put it to the side and start asking yourself better questions that will line you up with that goal of creating peace with food and freedom from overeating, traditional diet plans, give food all the power and they focus on food.

They start with food. The very first question that gets asked in a, in a traditional deprivation thinking diet mentality plan is okay, what am I gonna eat? What am I gonna not eat? What kind of food plan am I going to be on? But here's the thing. If you are struggling with emotional eating, there is a reason there is a reason that you are reaching for the food and you can do all the micromanaging of the food in your kitchen. <laugh> in the vending machine and at the drive through that you want, but if you aren't targeting, paying attention to learning about the reason that food has the power that it does in your life, and the reason that overeating and reach for something to eat when you're not hungry is so compelling. If you're not paying attention to those things and learning from them, then the struggle will always be there.

The way to dissolve the struggle with food is to understand what the struggle with food is about. Take a look at it, maybe from a couple of different vantage points and figure out how you can untangle the struggle. So there is no struggle anymore or so that when the struggle starts to emerge, you can see it happening and you can understand it differently. And instead of trying to stamp it out or numb yourself from it, or, you know, put your fingers in your ears and LA LA LA LA LA LA, I will just be strong and have willpower peace with food and freedom from overeating happen when you are in control. And by in control, I don't mean you have all the willpower in the world to defend against urges, to overeat. You are really in control when you can, when you have the tools and the strategies to understand the urge to overeat is about, or to figure out how to do that and to move forward in a way that is helpful to you, that doesn't involve reaching for something to eat.

So let's talk about how you can move outside those old paradigms that haven't worked for you and those old ways of in that old set of questions into something that's a lot more helpful. Let's talk about some of the I'm gonna call them right questions, but it's, it's it's questions that will actually, I don't know, the right questions is the right term to use, um, questions that will open things up and get you moving in a better direction. All right. So are you asking questions that will do that? And I'm gonna assume that the first question to, to start with that you, um, already know, or if you don't know, you're gonna know it. Now, the first question to start with is what do I know about the reasons that I'm, uh, doing this emotional eating or overeating? What do I know about that? And if you don't have any idea, or if you haven't yet taken the hidden hungers quiz, which is free, by the way, I would highly strongly suggest that you go take the hidden hungers quiz@toomuchonherplate.com, because it's going to give you your primary hidden hunger.

It's gonna give you some direction in terms of what is going on beneath the surface that is making overeating so powerful in your life. So what do I know about the reasons I'm overeating is the first helpful question that you can ask? The second question. It is so much more power, awful and helpful. Then what do I need to do? <laugh> what do I need to take away? What do I need to be strong about? Is am I caring for myself? Well, am I taking good care of myself? And your thoughts again, diet mentality probably will want to take you down of shoulds and deprivation kind of thinking, well, no, I'm not eating, eating enough vegetables. Well, no, I'm eating too much. Of course, I'm not caring for myself, cuz I've put on this weight. That's not the question I want you to focus on.

I want you to think of feeling cared for. And are you the things that generate a feeling of being cared for? Are you doing that? Well, am I caring for myself? Well, this is so important. We know that so much of the time food becomes this thing that fills in the cracks and the gap apps that covers over a need, a real need that we have that isn't getting taken care of or responded to, or even acknowledged. So am I creating a feeling of being cared for? Am I caring for myself? Well, now these questions, these question that are helpful to ask are only helpful. If you are asking 'em with true curiosity and an openness to learning from them, not with self-judgment and guilt and shame, um, when you do that, you're like, oh no, I'm not, I know I'm a horrible person. Or I know, you know, it's all my fault or I know I just need to try harder.

Okay. Der a thinking diet mentality, right there. Curiosity is like, Hmm. You know what? I haven't felt cared for this week. How could that be related to my eating or what has been going on with that? Or what would help generate more of that feeling of being cared for when you can put aside the, the deprivation mindset and the deprivation treatment of yourself, the self-judgment and the self blame, then you can open the door to asking, um, not just asking questions, but allowing yourself to hear really powerful answers, which brings me to the third helpful question. Another really helpful question is, okay. I've asked myself, am I feeling cared for, but sometimes I'm not feeling cared for because here's the question.

Am I listening for what I need? Is there a space in my life that I might even hear <laugh> what's going on inside of me? How long has it been since you have paused and actually thought about, okay, what's going on inside of me? What do I know about why food is so compelling right now? Am I feeling cared for? What would help me feel cared for? It is one thing to generate a list of questions that can be helpful. But if you don't give yourself space to listen to yourself and to actually ask the questions and hear the answers, then creating a list of helpful questions to ask is only more productivity thinking. And it's only adding items to your to-do list that are not gonna be helpful. Am I feeling cared for? Am I caring for myself? Well, am I listening for what I need?

And here's another question, am I empowering myself? That is a big one. And that is so different from diet mental, you know, in your missing piece, the, the group coaching program that I run the entire first module is about embracing your power. And you could call it taking your power back because we've lost our power in struggles with food. We've lost our power with all the diets. We've lost our power by, by being sold that bill of goods that we've only failed, cuz we're not strong enough and we don't have enough willpower and we're not trying hard enough and we're lazy and we don't have enough discipline and all those other thoughts that go around in our head, we've lost our power when we've been taught that the problem is food and we just need to control the food. We, without understanding that the reason that, you know, food is so compelling or the reason that we're emotional eating or overeating.

When you start asking whether you are empowering yourself, whether you feel like you're in the driver's seat and being curious about what kinds of actions might help you feel more empowered. You change the whole game and talk about lining up your action steps with that goal that you have of peace and freedom. When you start focusing on, okay, what's gonna help me feel powerful. What is gonna help me feel in charge of my relationship with food? What are the things that I can take action on that are gonna help me feel more free? Uh, those very different questions change the direction of your thinking. They change the direction of your actions and they change your results. Now I wanna say something important here. This idea of empowering yourself might feel or sound completely alien. You may think, okay, that, that sounds kind of good, but I have no idea what you mean.

I have no idea what that would look like. I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to start. Um, that's really normal diet culture. Doesn't teach you to do that. Diet culture is not about feeling empowered and diet mentality, those kind of thoughts that we think about food. They just make us feel bad. <laugh> they just lead to more thoughts that are negative about ourselves. So starting to ask the question, even if you don't know, the answer is, is really, really powerful. I mean, and it's, it's a process. Like I said, it is the entire first module. We're we're of your missing piece. We're laying down that foundation. And part of the reason we lay down that foundation and not only do we lay down the foundation in the first module, but it's something that we keep coming back to over and over again.

How can I be in charge of my relationship with food, how I create a relationship with food that I wanna have forever? How can I decide what way of eating works for me and, and soar through all that tangled up confusion of food roles in my brain, the reason I stress that and the reason I start with that and the program and the reason we come back to it over and over again is because feeling empower empowered and thinking empowered thoughts about food feels strange and you, your brain is gonna wanna push back against that. Your brain has been so indoctrinated into the idea of the, the, the only way that you can have a decent relationship with food is if you quote, follow the rules and quote that, you know, your brain is so used to that, that the idea of listening to yourself and creating your own rules is gonna feel crazy and maybe even impossible.

That is okay. Notice if your brain doesn't know what to do with that, but keep asking the question, am I empowering myself? And if you want help, come join us in your missing piece. You're gonna find a, a whole group group of women who are speaking your language and who are working on that stuff. Am I empowering myself, such a critical question to ask, okay, here's another really helpful question that is gonna get you so much farther than what do I need to give up to stop emotional eating that one never works. Can we just, let's just decide that I gave you a preview of this when I gave you the helpful question. Am I listening for what I need? The question that goes with that is am I giving myself space to hear myself and am I giving myself space to plan and to strategize, I just had this interesting conversation with a client yesterday who is at a place in working on her relationship with food, where she will come to our coaching calls and she'll say, you know, okay, so I need to, I know that I need to figure out a plan for this, or I know that I'm gonna be going on vacation.

I need to have a plan for that or for the holidays for how I want to eat, or I need to have a plan. And what we were talking about yesterday is that she's a master planner. She's amazing. Strategizer. And when she says, I need a plan for that, what I have come to learn and what she has come to learn is that it really means she needs to carve out space to stop and think about a plan. The plan is inside her. If she would give herself sometimes as little as 30 seconds, the plan spills out of her and the plan, the plan can be on her, on her paper or in her calendar really, really quickly. It's already there. But so much of the time, one of the things that keeps, keeps us stuck in cycles with overeating and emotional eating is not giving ourselves the time and the space, not just to listen to ourselves.

That's huge. And to hear what we are, what we are saying, and to notice our experience, but also time and space to respond to what we're hearing to actually think a thought all the way through around, okay. So what would I like to do with this? Or what would be helpful here, or I see this challenge coming up. What's the best way I could take care of myself? How could I help myself feel taken care of in that situation? Are you giving yourself space to respond to yourself and to plan and to strategize? Here's another thing about paying attention to that question. One of the things that I have seen over and over and over again in my life, in my, the life of my friends and colleagues and in my clients, is that on the front end of that question, it often feels there's often a knee jerk reaction that, okay, I don't have time.

<laugh> no, I'm not giving myself the time because I don't have time to do that. I just need to keep going. Right. That's productivity thinking, but what I have seen over and over again and, and in my life and the lives of many other people is that when we take that time, number one, it usually is not as much time as we were thinking, it might take it. Sometimes it is really a 32nd task, but that time pays us back exponentially, taking the time to give you yourself what you need, not only transforms your relationship with food. It also impacts and transforms your stress level. It can have a huge impact on your relationships. It can have a huge impact on the way you feel inside your sense of peace or contentment. If you are somebody who's feeling anxious and stressed and overwhelmed, and like you are always running around behind trying to catch up.

And part of the reason that you're eating the way you are is that you never have time to think through a meal plan, or when you get to that place, you're too tired to do that. Starting to who give yourself time, even five extra minutes to make a plan or a strategy, or to think through one upcoming challenge that will change so much. And really, I want you to try it, try taking five minutes today, to think about something that you need or something that's coming up and create a, a simple plan or a strategy, or take the time to put what you need in your calendar and carve out the time for it at a later date, take five minutes and see what a difference it makes. Here's another really helpful question that will change your trajectory from diet mentality and deprivation thinking to creating freedom from overeating and peace with food.

And this is a big one. And you may think it has absolutely nothing to do with eating, but if you're not asking this question, I want you to play with it. Are you giving yourself permission to have compassion for yourself, to have kind thoughts about yourself, to have compassion for your situation instead of negativity and judgment and self blame and all the, you know, negative conversation that you may be very familiar with in your head, right? Are you giving yourself permission to have compassion without compassion? All of these questions become a means of feeling frustrated with yourself or noticing what you are not doing or feeling guilty because, oh my gosh, I knew that why have I not been doing that? Compassion is a deep cleansing breath. It is looking at yourself the way you look at anyone that you love and care for and understanding that you're doing your best, that there is a reason that you're here even more than that, or just as important as that is that compassion allows you to learn from these questions that you are asking.

And I know I said this before, but it is so important if you are stuck in a loop where there is no compassion, if you are stuck in a loop where it's all your fault, where there's just a name, you call yourself when it doesn't go, right? When it's that you're not trying hard enough that you're lazy, that you don't have enough willpower. If, if you are stuck in a loop where everything you're doing around food and emotional eating, or overeating leaves, you feeling guilty or ashamed, then there is no room to learn because you've already decided your brain has already decided that everything is your fault and you just need to try harder. But I want you to think about being stuck in a loop, trying harder just means you go around faster <laugh> and you end up getting tired, faster, or burnt out, or just totally quitting, right? There is no learning inside self because you have decided you've already learned it's all your fault without compassion. All of these questions become a dead end.

And the exciting part is that with compassion, with an openness, to learning from these questions, these questions can take you in a much more empowered direction. That feels so much better than that loop and the guilt and the shame and the self blame. So are you giving yourself permission to have compassion? And if not, what could you give yourself permission to be kinder with yourself? About where could you give yourself a little more understanding? Compassion is something you can grow in little pieces. Where are the places in your life, particularly with your relationship with food, where you can say to yourself, okay, I know you're trying, I know you did your best. Okay. That didn't go the way we thought <laugh> what can we learn from that? Okay. This afternoon felt like a disaster that wasn't good. What could have made it better? Or why was it different than yesterday?

See self-compassion and, and even a sense of humor can help you move forward. Even in the darkest worst, very add periods or days in your life, which leads me to the final helpful question that you absolutely need to ask. If you want to end emotional eating struggles and create freedom from overeating and peace with food, are you ready for it? It's probably gonna be familiar to you. If this is not first episode of the podcast, the question is, are you giving yourself permission to be imperfect? You are absolutely wonderful. And I can absolutely guarantee that your life is not going to unfold according to some perfect set of circumstances that you've decided or gonna happen in your head, you are a wonderful, smart, capable, human being, but I can absolutely guarantee that you are not gonna be perfect. Either. You, your future self who has peace with food and freedom from overeating, she's gonna have very bad days.

She is going to be challenged. She is going to have episodes or, or Mo or even days where she doesn't make the choices that she in her perfect world would've wanted to make with food. And with eating, you get to be imperfect. Peace with food allows for imperfection peace with food allows for very bad days. Peace with food allows, for course, correction, an empowered relationship with food means that you are allowed to mess up or make missteps or make choices that you regret later and learn from the and move on. And they're not a horrible, very big deal. That means you somehow have slid back to start and you have to start over because freedom from overeating means that your relationship with food is just one part of your life. And just like all the other parts of your life you learn and you grow and it changes as you move forward, but you're on a path for the most part that works for you.

And that you really want to be on. I don't know about you, but I suspect like me. You have enough shoulds in your life. You have enough to do lists. You don't need food and your relationship with food and the way that you eat to be another hard thing. And if it does currently feel like a hard thing, it is possible to transform that into something that works for you, instead of something that you are struggling to stay on top of, start with these questions, wonder about the answers, be curious about where you, you to see gaps and things that you could do better. And again, if you want support, if you would like a group of women that are in on this journey with you, join me in your missing piece. I would love to see you there. 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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