Recently, I asked you to share your biggest question or challenge when it comes to overeating and emotional eating. I’ve received a flood of responses, and I’ll be addressing as many as I can in future blog posts and in an upcoming emotional eating program.
By far, the most common question so far has been: “How do I stop eating so much?”
“When I break my diet, I overeat because I’ve ‘blown it’ and I feel guilty.”
“How do I stop eating once I’ve started emotional eating? It’s all or nothing for me.”
“I eat for comfort and then I feel bad and so I eat because I feel bad. Then I feel worse.”
Sigh. Food can be so tough. And here’s the thing. We, high achievers, tend to have an overdeveloped sense of all-or-nothing thinking. We bask in the idea of “getting it perfect.” Many of us love “fresh starts” and “new weeks” and brand new clean notebooks.
And our relationship with food will never be like that. We can’t just “abstain” and we have lots of other things to do besides thinking about eating. Life happens and so do take-out and business lunches with desserts that call to us, and momentary lapses of sanity in the grocery store. We are human beings—not superheroes. And life is too short to be always waiting for Monday so we can begin again and “get it right this time.”
How much energy have you spent fighting with food and feeling like you’ve screwed up and now you have to start over? It can be like a never-ending game of Chutes and Ladders. (If you’ve never played, Chutes and Ladders is a children’s board game that can last for hours because, just as you start to make progress, you get sent back to the very beginning to start over. Again and again and again.)
Here’s my best (first) answer to the question, “How can I stop eating when . . .? ”
Focus only on your next step. Live your life in the present. When you’ve “blown it” or fallen off track or made a choice that you regret, don’t let yourself get stuck in the past or in the future. Focus on the most positive, forward-moving thing you can do NOW. And then do it. Then do it again. Don’t get lost looking in the forest of weight loss and dieting and choices and guilt. Just be in the present and take the step that is best NOW. Then figure out your next one.
Stop waiting for Monday and stop feeling like you have to atone. Hold yourself accountable for the choice you are making in THIS moment. Put down the bag of chips, go brush your teeth, do some deep breathing, or drink a glass of water. And give yourself credit for succeeding in the now.