Mindset Shifts That Help Stop Overeating | TMOHP Episode 031

If you believe you can’t do something, or if you endlessly tell yourself how difficult or unpleasant it’s going to be … well, chances are you’ll create a self-fulfilling prophecy. But there’s a lot more to mindset than positive vs. negative thinking. I’ve spent many years helping women stop emotional eating and end overeating habits and there are four obstacles that I repeatedly see getting between smart women and their goals.

Your brain is your most valuable asset when it comes to changing your eating habits. Consider how your thoughts and beliefs affect your motivation, your confidence, and even the choices you make about how to approach the change you want to make. 

Sometimes, we’re aware that our thoughts aren’t helpful. But much of the time, our thoughts, and the obstacles we create with them are sabotaging us outside of our awareness.

In this episode, let’s dive into four mindset shifts you want to be addressing if overeating or emotional eating are patterns you want to change.

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • The difference between diet mentality and freedom mentality
  • Why mindset is more than a buzzword and how to begin harnessing its power to stop overeating
  • How perfectionist thoughts can sneak up on you and sabotage your efforts to change emotional eating or overeating
  • How to avoid a common trap when your overeating trigger seems unsolvable or unchangeable
  • How to shift your thinking to avoid the obstacles that can short-circuit your efforts 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 eating and your weight.
  • Your Missing Peace is my 16-week program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Go here to learn more.  
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something that’s completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating.

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody today, I'm covering the four blocks that get between smart women and their goal to change their eating. I want you to remember that when it comes to just about anything, but also when it comes to changing your eating, your brain is your most valuable asset and managing your brain and taking control of your thoughts and your beliefs and the stories you tell yourself has the capacity to change so much about your approach and about your results. 

I often talk about the difference between diet mentality and freedom mentality. You know, what it takes to create freedom from overeating. Diet mentality does not create peace with food. Diet mentality teaches you to submit to a process. It's about using an external means: a set of rules, a set of shoulds to decide what it is that you're going to do. And then to evaluate your success.

Diet mentality does not start with a consideration of who you are and what you're about and what your strengths are, what your natural style is. Diet mentality presents you with this external process that you're supposed to submit to. And then asks you to be a pretzel, contort yourself up into whatever shape you can so that you can fit into this box that we've created for you. 

So why am I railing on diet mentality once again you ask? It's because we have gotten diet mentality inside of us and have accepted diet mentality as a way of thinking that we too often don't even question anymore. It's really easy to think diet thoughts, and come from this place of shoulds and external expectations so automatically that you might not even realize that you're doing it. 

Changing your relationship with food doesn't start with focusing on food. It starts in your mind. If you want to create a relationship with food that is peaceful and free, then you change how you think about the problem and what you believe about you and what you believe about your overeating and what you believe about what is possible when you do this. When you start with your brain and your thoughts and your beliefs, your whole approach changes.

Let's talk about four ways that changing your thinking can end your overeating. Four mindset shifts that can really be very, very helpful for stopping patterns with overeating and emotional eating. 

So the first obstacle, the first mindset that we really need to shift is this one, it's the changing you're eating equals focusing on what to eat. I mean, it sounds so logical, right? If you want to change your eating, you should just change your eating. 

Well, you know what this looks like? This looks like being frustrated with your overeating, being frustrated with your weight, and then just jumping into the latest food plan or maybe the last food plan that didn't work last time you tried it again. It looks like a vicious cycle with food. 

So if you've got this mindset, changing your eating is then focusing on what to eat. Here's what we want to transform it to because the mindset that works much better for creating freedom from overeating is this- changing your eating begins with knowing that there's always a reason that you eat.

In other words, stop blaming yourself for not sticking with that food plan you are focusing on and start noticing what you can discern about what the reasons are that you are reaching for something to eat when you're not hungry. Start looking for the reasons that you're overeating. Start looking for the reasons that emotional eating is happening. Just start acknowledging. It can be that simple. Just start acknowledging the reality that there is always a reason that you eat.

Obstacle number two. And that first one's going to come back again, of course. Right. But obstacle number two is treating the reason or the triggers for your eating with disdain or self-judgment. Or just dismissing them entirely. So maybe you get to that place where you've made that first mindset shift and you're like, okay, yeah, of course I'm stress eating, and I just need to knock it off. Right? Or calling yourself names, deciding that you are overeating, because really you're just lazy. 

You're treating those triggers with disdain and dismissing them when you just decide, well, so what I'm just not going to do it. No more eating when I'm overwhelmed. No more grabbing junk when I'm too busy. No more. I'm just not going to be too busy to do that anymore. Right?

What's going on here is that you are not really treating these triggers or the reason that you are overeating with much respect at all. You're dismissing it. And what happens when you do that? What happens when you start by focusing on food? And then you say, well, there are some reason that I'm overeating, but you know, we're just going to ignore those and keep going. What happens is that you actually double down on focusing on the food and how to eat and when to eat.

And you're really disregarding the reasons. So the mindset shift, the way of changing your thinking to be more effective is to not, not don't stop with identifying that. There's a reason you're overeating, but approach the reason or the idea that there might be a reason with interest and curiosity. And you can only do that if you start with a sense of compassion. Right? 

Having compassion for the fact that there is a reason that you're doing this thing and then being curious to start to find out more about what are those reasons? Start exploring from a place of knowing that eating is accomplishing something for you, right? It's taking care of that reason, at least temporarily in some way. And if it wasn't, you wouldn't be doing it. So there is a reason that this pattern with food is going on. And when you can have some compassion for that, that actually opens up the door to allow you to be even more curious and open and interested in exploring it.

This will be really hard for a brain that has been steeped in diet mentality to believe. But here is the truth. You are going to be more effective in ending overeating if you put more energy into understanding and exploring and being curious about the reason this is happening. Then energy that you put into the actual eating itself, at least in the beginning, put your energy into the reason not into the food. 

I know it is easier said than done, especially if you don't have any personal proof that this works. And this is one of the reasons that we do the coaching that we do in Your Missing Peace, because it is one thing to start to learn strategies. It is one thing to start to be introduced to new ideas and even start to see that, oh, okay, I see how these old ways of thinking are not serving me. I can see the dead ends that they are taking me into. 

It is one thing like one phase of things, to be able to see that and start to understand that, but then stepping into new actions. Right? Okay. Deciding I'm going to really focus on the reason and not get so obsessed with what to eat right now. That can be really hard for somebody to do by themselves. Do not short change yourself on getting the support that you need to make. The changes that you know are going to be effective for you. 

So here is the third obstacle that comes up all the time that gets between smart women and their goals to change their eating. And that happens when you buy into the explanations or the thoughts or the beliefs that lead to denying your hidden hungers or that lead to denying your wants or your needs that are contributing to your overeating.Right? 

So here's what that looks like. That looks like repeatedly saying to yourself, well, there's nothing I can do about the stress. Yes. I'm stress eating, but there's nothing I can do about the stress. This can also take the form of future thinking and future kind of perfectionistic expectations, you know? Yes. I know all this stuff is going on, but everything's going to feel better if I can just lose the weight. I know that stuff is important, but I really just need to focus on getting my weight under control first, because then I will feel so much better or I don't have time to take a break. I know I'm eating because I'm exhausted, but I can't get more sleep right now. That's just not possible. If you understood my life, you would understand how not do that when we buy into. And when we reinforce our helplessness around hidden hungers and around other reasons that we are overeating I think you can see what happens.

We actually acknowledge them or we give them lip service is the way I like to put it. But then we double down on frustration and self blame and we go back to focusing on food. Well, you know what, there's nothing I can do about that. I just need to clean up my eating. And when you do that, you stay stuck in that vicious cycle, right? That circular loop with overeating and overwhelm and feeling frustrated with yourself. 

Here's the a thing you are not a bad person if you have been buying into the explanations or thoughts that are leading you to deny your hidden hungers or that are leading you to not respond to or take your hidden hunger seriously. It's human nature to do this. If you saw a solution, if you saw a way out of this tangled up bunch of stuff, you'd be, you'd be moving into that solution.You'd be doing it. Right? 

So recognizing what is going on does not mean, oh, now go into, down this road of, you know, rabbit hole of self blame and, and being frustrated with yourself for doing this. I'm talking about these obstacles today because they are very human and very common. And understanding what is going on gives you the power to start moving into more constructive, helpful beliefs and a more freedom oriented mindset. Right? 

Okay. So here is the shift that you can make. Here is how you can start to change thinking to make you more effective with overeating. Instead of feeling helpless, decide that success lies in solving the real problem. Even if you don't know how to do this yet, even if your brain tells you that it is impossible, it's not about out solving the problem instantly. It's deciding that the power move is to figure this part out or to get some answers.

Even if you don't know what they are, even if you're not sure that they exist looking at this from a 50,000 foot view and seeing that, okay, this is the problem to solve. I can continue to circle around focusing on what to eat for forever and I'm not going to get anywhere. The way to get out of this loop is to focus on the reasons and making some kind of sense out of the reasons. Even if I don't know how to do this right now.

Here's what happens when you are able to make this shift in your mind. First of all, there is an openness, because if it's impossible, if it can't be fixed, if it's something you just need to ignore it, it's like the book is closed. There is no room for growth. There is no room for learning. And by just making the shift that wait, this is important. You are automatically going to be more open making this shift allows you to ask yourself some important questions. 

It allows you to not be entirely focused on what you don't know, the unfixable pieces of this problem. But once you start to open things up, you can put that over to one side and you can also focus on what you do know about solving the problem. What you do know about what would be involved in a good solution or what you do know about what isn't going to work. 

When you allow yourself to acknowledge that your success lies in solving the problem of the, the reasons addressing the reasons that food has the power that it does. It allows you to start to look at and ask yourself about what it is that you need to be effective saying I can't solve this problem is a closed door starting to look at, okay, what would help me solve this impossible problem?It allows you to ask for help, bring help on board, right? Or seek out new skills or new strategies. 

The mindset shift from, of course I'm stuck, it's a reasonable that I'm stuck. There's no way out of this mess. Shifting into well, here is the problem, here are the reasons that I'm overeating. Here is what I know right now about the reasons that I'm overeating and I don't know how to solve it. But this is the problem that needs to be solved. 

Making this shift alone allows you to shift from somebody who is helpless to somebody who can start to access all the strengths and capability that you use all day long in other areas of your life. I don't know you personally, probably, but I am willing to bet that you solve a lot of tough problems and you've got a lot of resources that remain shut down and get further shut down every single time you tell yourself, this is an impossible problem to solve.

Okay. The final obstacle that I want to talk about is one that a lot of women negotiate all the time and they don't even recognize. And that is having a perfectionistic, false belief that you can do it differently this time. No matter what has gone wrong in the past,  this time when you focus on the food, you're going to get it right this time. And when you get to your goal, everything's going to be changed. Everything is going to be good. Once you hit that number on the scale, once you succeed with that 30 day challenge, once you fit into your jeans again, right? 

You buy into the belief that once you lose the weight, or once you eat a certain way, you're never going to have another bad day. You are going to love yourself more than you do now. And everything is going to magically work. I will tell you, I often ask people, okay, so once you reach the goal, how will you eat? What does maintenance look like on this food plan? And that's just focusing on the food. 

I'll also ask you, what are you going to do when you have another one of those really stressful periods at work? What are you going to do the next time that you have a period of boredom when boredom eating has always been an issue for you? What are you going to do instead of overeating at night? Diet mentality includes the sometimes hidden belief that if you just focus on the food, perfectly enough, somehow all of those other factors that have caused your overeating in the past, somehow all of those things will be resolved. And I think you and I both know, it's totally not true on top of which, the path you take to your destination, that's what the destination feels like.

And so if you happen to achieve the goal that you have, if you happen to lose the way you wanted to lose within diet mentality, and by focusing solely on the food, you are going to end up at this destination where the only way to stay that way is to continue to be obsessed and solely focused on the food while all this other stuff that, oh, by the way, tends to trigger overeating is swirling around unchecked all around you. 

So yes, there is a way to change your thinking that can allow you to be way more effective. And it doesn't sound very sexy, but it is so important. And that is to be honest and open and curious about the reasons that you have not been successful or that you've not met your goal in the past, or that you've not stayed aid at your goal in the past.

And by being open and curious and honest, I mean, doing that in a place of self-compassion, because what happens too often is that we look back at the pattern or you look back at a failure that you had or something that didn't work out. You get sucked into that belief of it being your fault, or you get sucked into guilt and self blame or name calling or frustration. All things would shut you down and completely keep you from growing and completely keep you from being curious and inquisitive about what happened. 

But when you can look at your past history with kindness, when you can look at the patterns that you've seen and the things that you've tried in the past and really openly, and honestly explore why they didn't work, what was missing, what you needed, that maybe you didn't have what the plan required of you that wasn't a good fit. When you can start to look at these things and collect that kind of data, you get to adjust and grow and you get to create a better path forward. Even if it's just the next 10 steps of your path, you get to take what didn't work and use that to adjust what you're doing now so that it will work better. 

So those are four big obstacles and four mindset shifts that you can use that you can start practicing to help stop overeating and emotional eating. And I'm going to end right where I  started- diet mentality does not create peace with food. It does not create freedom from overeating. It just reinforces and creates more diet mentality. 

If you're ready to do it differently. And you're ready to create freedom from overeating. And you'd like some help with that, then by all means, come check out Your Missing Peace.

You will get a lifetime of access to strategy, resources, training all about shifting your thinking, your beliefs and your behavior so that you can create a relationship with food that is peaceful. And that works for you. 

All of that is coupled with 16 weeks of coaching with me, because I know you're good at learning new things. I know you're good at getting more information, but we want to spend time together so that we can really cement in what it is that you're learning. And also, so that you have the support and the coaching that you need to clear out any of those inner obstacles and also the outer ones that can clutter up your path. And that can make this whole journey so much more difficult than it needs to be. 

So if it speaks to you, check out Your Missing Peace, I will put the link in the show notes. 

And I will talk to you soon. 

Take care.

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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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