Emotional Eating – Is It Your Boundaries? | TMOHP Episode 020

One place that even smart high-achievers get stuck with emotional eating - and with comfort eating, stress eating or eating to numb or overeating because you’re so busy - or any kind of overeating really, is by missing an important connection. It's the connection between your boundaries and your relationship with food.

It’s big, it’s important, and understanding how your boundaries work with or work against both your eating habits AND your confidence AND your own personal power to make changes is critical for creating peace with food and freedom from overeating.

There are reasons that focusing on boundaries might make you uncomfortable (I’ll cover this), and some of the connections between boundaries and emotional eating and overeating might surprise you. You need to hear this.

So let’s talk about it.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How certain boundaries can actually create overwhelm and overeating
  • You may know more than you think about how to change your eating - boundaries can help you discover this
  • Why boundaries are so much more than saying no

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.
  • Join Your Missing Peace and work with me to get off the overeating hamster wheel and create your personal path to freedom from overeating with coaching from me.
  • 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

Emotional eating is an interesting thing. Some people - very smart people - are convinced that the foundation of their overeating is emotional eating  - when in reality that’s not their primary hidden hunger or the best place to start making changes.

Other people are absolutely sure that they aren’t emotional eaters - and the truth is, it’s their relationship with emotions that has all the power with food.

Side note: this is exactly why I created the Hidden Hungers Quiz. Emotional eating is tangled up with four other Hidden Hungers, and knowing which is your primary trigger and how to best start untangling them is going to make your path forward a whole lot easier. Take or retake the quiz if you need to so you can start looking at what’s going on with your overeating - and yes - emotions eating - a lot more clearly.

One place that even smart high-achievers get stuck with emotional eating - and eating for comfort or stress eating or eating to numb or overeating because you’re so busy - or any kind of overeating really, is by missing a really important connection. And that’s the connection between your boundaries and your relationship with food.

It’s big, it’s important, and understanding how your boundaries work with or work against both your eating habits AND your confidence AND your own personal power to make changes is critical for creating peace with food and freedom from overeating.

So let’s talk about it.

Boundaries and struggles with boundaries are things we gloss over or even give lip service to. Boundary talk makes a lot of women uncomfortable. There’s a reason for this. We’ve been conditioned to extend and stretch and give up our boundaries. For others. To be “nice.” To avoid conflict.

You probably grew up learning that accommodating others and being understanding and nice was valued more than self-care or sometimes even self-preservation.

You might not have been taught to think about what you need, let alone what you WANT. Maybe you were taught to be “realistic” or to be good at “making do” or making anything work.

That kind of flexibility can be a superpower for sure, but it can also impact the kind of boundaries you set or don’t set - and where you set them.

Boundaries aren't just about saying, "no."

Your boundaries are the fences that create the space for what's important to you.

Think about this. Have you ever had a problem you were telling yourself that you didn’t know what to solve? It could be a simple problem like what to have for dinner or a more complicated problem like how to get more sleep or how to sell more widgets, or how to negotiate that raise.

Think about what it took to address or solve that problem. I bet that nine times out of ten it was more about sitting down and taking the time to figure out how you wanted to proceed than it really was an issue of you not knowing.

And - even if part of how you solved the problem was by getting more support or help or more tools, I am willing to bet that you figured out what you needed by taking the time to think about or analyze your situation.

I can’t tell you how many amazing clients I’ve worked with who are telling themselves they don’t know how to address their Hidden Hungers or how to solve a problem that’s triggering overeating when what they really mean is - they haven’t felt they had the time to focus exclusively on solving this problem.

Clients who said they don’t know how to stop overeating at night. (They had great ideas.)

Clients who said they weren’t sure how to eat on the road. (They hadn’t thought about it because they were too busy.)

Clients who said they didn’t understand why they were so stressed or so tired or so overwhelmed. (They had been so busy in constant reactivity to life that they hadn’t given themselves any space to explore the questions.)

They haven’t created boundaries that would allow them time and space to take a step back and even ask - what IS the problem. What ARE my options? What do I need here? What do I want? What do I know would help?

Overwhelm is often boundaries that are drawn (or not drawn) in all the wrong places.

Do a little experiment. Think about the things that need to be in your life for you to be at your best. For me these are things like time outdoors, journaling, quiet time in the mornings, and time with friends. 

Have you created a boundary or a fence to preserve your important things? Are YOU on your calendar? Or, are you like so many busy women who put everyone and everything else in their calendar and expect to squeeze themselves in in the nonexistent space between all the things.

Think about any personal goals you have right now - especially any goals related to changing overeating or emotional eating. When is that thing you want to start doing supposed to happen?

Can we see it in your schedule.

We come by boundary issues naturally - it’s the culture most of us were raised in. But you can take responsibility for owning and addressing them.

This starts by seeing the impact your current boundaries are having in your life - and on your eating.

We often think about boundaries as the nos that we say, but it can be really impactful to think of boundaries as planting your flag to where you’ll say yes.

How can this be useful?

Do you eat because it’s your reward?

Do you eat as a substitute because there’s no time for you?

Are you someone who believes that moving your body sets all the positive stuff in motion, but you never have time?

Do you overeat at night because you’re exhausted but want something good in your day?

Or because so many hours were about everyone else and what’s the point of not doing something that tastes good?

All these instances of eating reflect a lack of fenced-off space for something better and more nourishing.

What that fenced-off space needs to contain - and how big it is - is different for everyone. It might be time to dream or to sing or to play the piano. It might be time to go for a walk or meal plan or the ten minutes it takes to advance-plan your day.

Your fenced-off, boundary-protected space might be time to journal and explore what you’re feeling, what’s triggering your overeating, or what’s bothering you.

Or time to ask yourself what you really, really want.

Or what you’re needing today.

Boundaries do say no, but they also create the possibility of yes. So many, critical, important yesses.

Here’s another thing boundaries can create space for:

Execution. Getting the thing we want to get done done.

As everyone who has ever tried to change her eating knows, it’s one thing to know what you want to do, it’s another thing to be able to make it happen. Fenced off space is space and energy and brainpower you get to use to:

Strategize - how will you make your plan work for you?

Execute - I mean, how many times have you told yourself you’re not going to go out for lunch but then didn’t make time to shop or plan or prep for your new-improved plan?

Maybe most importantly, boundaries can fence-off space so that you can continually evaluate how what you’re doing is working - or where it isn’t - so that you can course-correct nimbly instead of that version of you who doesn’t have fenced-off space - who just reacts to her plan, keeps trying harder at things that aren’t designed well for you - and beats herself up for not succeeding.

Boundaries and fenced-off space are a gift that keeps on giving. The muscles to create these things are some of the most powerful muscles you can nurture. It’s no surprise that we are always experimenting with and exploring boundaries in Your Missing Peace.

Consider where your boundaries could be better - meaning - consider where your boundaries could be adjusted to serve YOU better. What do you want to carve out space to say yes to?

And if this seems impossible, here’s one final tip. Let’s leverage that socialization that conditions us to be kinder and more tolerant of others than of ourselves. The boundaries you have right now - the time you’re telling yourself you aren’t allowed right now (yes - I see you - and I know you probably have that inner voice in your head that’s telling you that boundaries and fenced-off space isn’t possible for YOU.

Think about someone you love and care for. Would you tell them the same restrictive story? Would you tell your loved one, your best friend, or your child that they don’t get fenced-off space? That they can’t have boundaries for the things they need to thrive?

If you’re in a vicious cycle with overeating or emotional eating, take a look at your boundaries. Make a list of the fenced-off spaces you want. Start building them.

You’ve got this.

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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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