In this four part series of articles, I’m sharing how to tackle overeating and losing weight by answering four essential questions. In case you missed questions one and two, I’ll share the links at the end of this post.
When you tackle today’s question, you’ll be addressing one of the biggest reasons that women overeat and struggle to lose weight – emotional eating. Whether it’s comfort eating, stress eating, or even eating to cheer yourself up – emotional eating boils down to using food to take the place of something else that you need.
Too often, we feed ourselves food when we are really hungry for something else.
Emotions are not the only hidden hungers that trigger overeating. Many people have learned to use food as an easy, convenient, temporary fix for all sorts of situations – from exhaustion to overwhelm and even as a way to procrastinate.
If you want to take your power back from food, you’ve got to consider why food IS so powerful in your life. But understanding why is not enough. If you want to break free of the patterns that aren’t working for you with overeating, the key question to answer is this:
Have you learned to feed yourself in ways that don’t involve food – and do you give yourself permission to do so?
Marissa woke up every morning telling herself that today she would stick to her plan for healthy eating. Today she would eat more vegetables and she wouldn’t eat sugar. Today she wouldn’t eat anything in the evening after the kids had gone to bed. Before we worked together, every morning started with the same promises and almost every evening found Marissa feeling more frustrated with herself because she hadn’t been able to follow through.
Marissa wondered if she had a sugar addiction or whether she was simply addicted to food. She mourned the fact that she couldn’t just go cold turkey and eliminate food from her life. On the other hand, food was something she spent a lot of time thinking about and craving. As Marissa practiced more mindful eating, she began to understand the hidden hungers that she was feeding with food. Food was a way to take care of herself, comfort herself, and reward herself after a very hard day. The insight was interesting, but it didn’t get her anywhere until she focused on learning new ways of feeding herself and overcoming the discomfort she had about allowing herself to do these things.
Marissa felt guilty and uncomfortable taking time for herself and making her own needs a priority. She had developed a mindset that told her self-care was a luxury, or something that she could only indulge in after everyone else was taken care of. In her busy world, this never happened. Marissa wasn’t feeding herself what she needed and instead was using food as a way to try to soothe these underlying hungers. Can you relate?
Have you learned to feed yourself in ways that don’t involve food – and do you give yourself permission to do so? More often than not, taking control of overeating and emotional eating involves learning new skills – and they usually have nothing to do with food.
Take good care,
Check out the rest of this series covering the four essential questions to ask if you want to stop overeating, emotional eating, or lose weight:
Question Four: Why mindful eating may not be enough