“I know how to lose weight but I just can’t do it. I eat without even thinking about it. I’m a compulsive eater, an emotional eater—it feels like I eat to deal with everything. How do I stop overeating?”
Sound familiar? This is a concern that women share with me almost every week. Compulsive overeating is one of the most frustrating challenges that women face when working to create peace with food (or fit into their skinny jeans). Compulsive eating feels out of control.
Fortunately, there is a step-by-step process that will help you get back in the driver’s seat with your eating and with your weight. It won’t create instant results, but, followed faithfully, it will not only show you how to end overeating, but it will also probably leave you feeling more effective in your life.
1. To break free from compulsive eating, you’re going to need to climb into the driver’s seat. That means taking the wheel and keeping your eyes on the road–and being present when you make decisions about eating and when you put food into your mouth. What does that look like? It’s you being one hundred percent present when you eat. Whatever you eat. No multitasking. No watching TV or reading a book or catching up on email. If you want to take the power back from food, you need to be present and in charge. Want more incentive? Research shows that mindful eaters tend to feel more satisfied and eat less.
2. Know your personal emotional eating and overeating triggers. What are the situations or emotions that tend to trigger you to overeat? Are there times when you routinely reach for food without even thinking about it? These are trigger situations and they play a big role in keeping you stuck in cycles of compulsive eating. Identifying your trigger situations allows you to anticipate them and create an alternate plan of action or to prepare the tools and strategies that will help you be effective when the going gets tough. Being aware of your emotional eating and overeating triggers allows you to be in charge—not the food.
3. Once you are mindfully seated in the driver’s seat with a road map of your overeating triggers, it’s essential to know your destination. Women who are struggling with compulsive overeating often make the mistake of focusing on what NOT to do. “I won’t overeat.” “I won’t eat dessert.” “I won’t…”
It’s helpful to know what you don’t want to do, but it’s even more important to know what you DO WANT to do. How will your behavior be different when you achieve peace with food that you are working so hard for? If you haven’t already, it’s critical that you create a clear picture of your goal. How do you want to eat? What do you want to do when the urge to binge on chocolate strikes? How do you want to see yourself handling the stressful situations that used to be overeating triggers? To start being more successful, you will need a very clear picture of the actions you want to take and of the deliberate eater that you want to be.
What are your best tips for feeling effective and in control with food? I’d love to hear.