Take Your Power Back From Hidden Hungers (Instead of Overeating) | TMOHP 013

Do you ever feel frustrated because you know the reasons that you’re overeating, but the knowledge doesn’t seem to make a difference?

You’re not alone.

Identifying your Hidden Hungers is the first step to creating freedom from overeating, but it’s not the end of the road. There’s an essential step that comes next - and there are four big mistakes that can lead you astray - or completely off track. I haven’t talked about these before and I’m excited to share what we’ve been exploring during our recent coaching sessions in Your Missing Peace.

Check out the episode and be sure to listen all the way to the end - I have an action item for you.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • The four mistakes that smart, busy women make after learning about their Hidden Hungers that lead to a lack of results or effectiveness
  • How your thoughts and beliefs can sabotage you after you’ve identified your Hidden Hungers
  • The difference between knowing your Hidden Hungers and giving yourself full permission to acknowledge them
  • Where you might be lacking permission and how to start giving it to yourself

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.
  • Listen to Episode 001 of the podcast: The Reason You Overeat
  • 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.
  • Brené Brown’s book: Dare to Lead
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. It is a dark gray rainy morning in the Pacific Northwest. And in fact, it is raining so hard here and it's raining sideways that I think you might actually be able to hear the rain in the background of this podcast episode. So it is a perfect day to be inside and to be recording this for you. And I want to share some background information about why I am talking about what I'm going to be talking about today. I have been hearing from people smart women who are feeling frustrated because they say, you know, I know the reason that I'm overeating. I'm very clear on the reason that I'm overeating. I'm using this whole idea of hidden hungers and it's still not working. I just can't stop the overeating or the bingeing habit. Is there something else I should be doing? Is there something that I'm missing?

So I want to talk about that today because there might be something that you're missing. Here's the thing. There is a reason that you overeat always there is a reason that you end up in the kitchen or that you find yourself going through the drive-through. There is always a reason that you overeat and if it is not a need for fuel, it is something else. I use the concept of hidden hungers to talk about that. And there are some hidden hungers that are especially common for smart, busy women. If you haven't checked out the hidden hunger quiz, you want to do that, I'll put the information about that in the show notes, it's a freeway to target what primary hidden hunger is. That's happening for you and some resources and some steps that you can take to start to address that so that you can take your power back from food.

Knowing the reason that you're overeating, knowing what your hidden hunger, your primary hidden hunger is, that is the first step. And even if you've identified your hidden hunger, even after you identify your hidden hunger, there are four big mistakes that you can make. And I see smart women making these all the time. So today I want to cover the four mistakes. What those are, what those look like, and also give you what I think is a really important key to making sure that you're actually addressing your hidden hungers in a way that is going to be helpful to you. So let's talk about these four mistakes. The first one is so common. The first mistake is knowing your hidden hunger, identifying what it is, and then deciding, because it's not quote real hunger and quote that you just need to ignore it. You just need to use willpower and be strong and not submit to it.

This is actually advice that is pretty commonly handed out by weight loss plans and is really a key piece of diet mentality. So the idea is identify that something's going on, that isn't a physical hunger, and for instance, your stress eating or your boredom eating, or your comfort eating, you just have a tendency towards emotional eating, identify that this is not a need for fuel and just don't do it. The first mistake is knowing your hidden hunger, deciding that it is not a real physical hunger, and then deciding to use willpower and being strong to combat it. Guess what? It doesn't work because the times when we are most motivated to feed our hidden hungers with food, tend to be the times when your willpower is all tapped out. So it doesn't work. It's also really tough and hard and not a very motivating recipe for sustaining it for sticking with this plan of being strong forever, very hard to do almost impossible, if not completely impossible to do.

And probably the number one mistake people make with hidden hungers. The second mistake that I see a number of people making with hidden hungers is to identify your hidden hunger too broadly. So making blanket statements like I know I'm a stress eater. I know I'm an emotional eater. I know I don't get enough sleep. Let's take the stress eating one. For example, a big mistake is identifying well. I'm stressed. I have a lot of stress in my life. There's nothing I can do about the stress. So I can't make any changes. The second mistake is being satisfied or taking for granted that there is just a big, broad description of your hidden hunger and stopping in that place where you feel overwhelmed and paralyzed and having the thought, telling yourself the story that it is impossible to do anything. There's another important piece to this, which is that hidden hungers tend to travel together.

So if you are overeating because you are really busy, you may also be creating exhaustion, which may also be generating or contributing to the amount of stress that you have, which might also be leading to smaller capacity at diminished capacity to take on tough situations and tough emotions, which might be leading to more emotional eating. So big broad statements about hidden hungers are sometimes burying the lead. You might be telling yourself that I'm stressed eating, and it's impossible for me to stress or to do anything about the stress in my life, but really the main, hidden hunger that is going on. The thing that is the piece that is generating much of the cycle might be a hidden hunger for rest. And that may be a place where you were able to start to build some effectiveness by honoring your need for rest or getting better sleep or going to bed earlier.

So big blanket statements about hidden hungers that feel like a dead end that leave you feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed are a key piece to look at, because if you're feeling that way, you might be making one of these younger mistakes. You might be thinking about this too broadly and shameless self promotion for the hidden hungers quiz. That's another reason to take it because it isn't uncommon to have a bunch of hidden hungers at once. It can be confusing to know where to dive in and start, which brings me to reason number three, or mistake, number three that people make after they identify their hidden hungers that can lead to not getting results. And that is that you identify your hidden hunger, but you don't identify a place to start to create effectiveness. So similar to that second mistake you have th th the hidden hunger feels big, or you know that, okay, I have that hidden hunger, and I know that's what the quiz said, but I also know I'm exhausted.

And I also know I have a problem with comfort eating and I also, and I just feel overwhelmed. It's too much. And guess what feeling overwhelmed and feeling like something is too much is such a perfect recipe or such a tempting recipe to numb out, to push things down, to go on autopilot with your old familiar habits, all of which can be the ways that you tend to overeat. If you have been stuck in habits with overeating or emotional eating, you can expect that your brain, your thoughts are going to tell you that it's going to require something big and dramatic to make a change. If you are somebody who has been a participant in diet mentality for a while, you have been told for years that you need to do something dramatic or something that feels hard or something that requires willpower to make a change.

And so when you start to look at a new framework, when you start to look at the reasons that you're overeating or hidden hungers, it can be tempting to think the only way out of this is some big overwhelming step, which guess what? If you've got the common, hidden hungers that smart busy women have, which have to do with stress and busy-ness and needing rest and feeling overwhelmed, doing something hard might not feel like something. You really have the bandwidth to do a huge mistake that people make that helps contribute and continue. That cycle of overwhelm is not finding a place to get started creating effectiveness. And I will tell you from years of working with clients around this issue, the things that can generate the most effectiveness can also be the simplest smallest steps that your brain, which is locked in diet mentality is likely to tell you that this isn't enough.

This can't possibly do it. We need to clean out the pantry. We need to make ourselves miserable. We need to go without, you know, we need to go into deprivation mode for a while. So third mistake, not identifying a place where you can start creating effectiveness. Again, if you can see yourself in this mistake, go back to your results from the hidden hunger quiz, you got a specific step. You were given an action item that, you know, this is the first best thing for you to focus on. Ignore your thoughts, telling you that that's enough, give yourself something to do to start to feel effective. Okay. Now I want to talk about the fourth mistake that I see people making all the time after they have identified their hidden hunger. This is a mistake that I have not heard people talk about. This is the mistake where you identify your hidden hunger.

Maybe you take the hidden hunger quiz, or you've done some work on yourself, and you've identified what the reasons are that you're overeating. You find the best place to start. The thing that will start to make a difference for you, the way that you can start honoring the reasons that you're overeating and taking care of those reasons. And then you make the mistake. You've got the reasons that you're overeating. You have a plan for what to do, and then you don't really give yourself permission to do the thing. This happens when you ignore thoughts and beliefs that you shouldn't really have this need, or you shouldn't really have this hidden hunger at this time. What happens when we have that belief in the background is that we fail to give ourselves real permission to give ourselves what it is we really need or want or desire that isn't food.

So what does that look like? That looks like having a hidden hunger for rest, knowing that you have a hidden hunger for rest and that your need for rest is driving your overeating. So you acknowledge that you're tired, but you also, in the back of your brain are feeling irritated with yourself for feeling tired. So you kind of give yourself permission to maybe not do as much, but not really, because you still feel irritated with yourself and you still have that little voice in your head maybe saying, you really shouldn't be tired or other people can do as much and not be tired. And so you have this hunger for rest. You're kind of telling yourself that it's okay to be tired, but you haven't given yourself full permission to be tired. So what happens is that instead of really honoring your need for rest, you choose avoidance activities or numbing activities because you're tired and they keep you away from the real productive activities, but they don't entirely give you rejuvenation, right?

Because you haven't entirely given yourself permission to do fully rejuvenating activities, activities that would actually fill your tank. This happens a lot with women who are struggling with cycles of overeating or binging at night, you tell yourself, okay, I can't do this because I'm tired, but you also stay up late numbing on Netflix. Instead of giving yourself full permission to put on your PJ's at eight o'clock and to go to bed early or full permission to not do anything. And to silence that voice in your head that tells you, oh, but you really should be doing something instead, because you haven't given yourself permission. You might need to push those voices down, push those thoughts and beliefs away, and you might be using food to do that. This concept of not giving yourself full permission to do something it's pretty common. I mean, here are some things that I see smart, busy women failing to give themselves full permission to do all the time.

Rest is at the top of the list. So is taking time for yourself. Think about whether or not you give yourself full permission to stop, or if you have a hard time stopping and you have found yourself using numbing out activities or distracting activities, think scrolling on your phone, right, as a substitute for really giving yourself permission to take a full stop, smart, busy women have a hard time sometimes giving themselves full permission to indulge. And I'm using that word deliberately to fully indulge in acts of self care, or to fully engage in self care without judging it as an indulgence, because indulgence has a negative connotation for them. Self-compassion is another big one. Think about it. Do you give yourself full permission to be compassionate with yourself, or is there a thought in the back of your brain that you shouldn't really need it, whatever it is that you should be tougher than this, or even that you shouldn't be having the hard time that you're having another place that you might be not giving yourself full permission is permission to feel a feeling. I shouldn't feel this way. I should be over this by now. This shouldn't make me angry. I should be able to deal with this. It can be a challenge to give yourself full permission to celebrate or to reward yourself or to acknowledge a win and take it in.

And here's where it gets. You could say interesting or tricky, or really, really clear food and eating are easy ways to take care of hidden hungers. When we haven't given ourselves full permission to feed them. I'm going to say that again, because it's so important food and reaching for something to eat. These things can become very easy, superficial ways to intervene. When you have a hidden hunger that we haven't given ourselves full permission to feel food is almost always there. You can eat on autopilot without paying attention, without feeling your feelings without thinking about it. You can eat and also be mad and frustrated with yourself. You can eat without taking a break or taking time out. If you haven't given yourself full permission, eating can keep you numb. It can help you numb. It can also distance you from any guilt or discomfort that you're feeling for trying to address those needs.

When your thoughts are saying, you shouldn't really have them, or it's not really okay to do that, because remember you, haven't given yourself a hundred percent permission to take in, to acknowledge or to respond to your hidden hungers. So on the one hand, reaching for something to eat can be an easy, accessible stop gap measure. When you haven't given yourself full permission to take care of your hidden hungers, but feeding your hidden hungers with food, doesn't really nourish you in the moment. It might help you get through, right? But it doesn't take care of the thing that you need. It doesn't take care of your hunger for rest or your hunger for stress-relief or your hunger for compassion. It might just give you enough to keep going, but after you are done eating to feed a hidden hunger, your tank isn't any fuller than before you ate.

And on top of that, you might have the guilt and the shame and the frustration and the indigestion that happens afterward feeding your hidden hungers with food, instead of with what you really need. It's kind of like throwing a drowning person, just enough of what, you know, just enough aid to keep their head above water for now, but feeding your hidden hungers with food, doesn't help you feel better or live better, or actually get what you need at the end of, you know, when the feel-good feeling or the numbness wears off you're right back where you started the art of giving yourself permission. And I think it is an art if you're not used to doing it, but this act of giving yourself permission is a key piece of solving the overeating puzzle that so many smart women miss. So let's talk about that. One of the people that I always think about when I think about this concept of permission is Bernay brown in one of her books.

I think it's braving the wilderness. Bernay brown talks about how she actually writes herself permission, slips to be, and think things that, that she needs, that aren't a usual way of being or thinking for her or that weren't right. So she will literally write out on paper. Bernay brown has permission to have fun today. I give Bernay brown permission to be in the moment, and she talks about how powerful it was for herself to actually put it in writing, not to have some half formed thought in the back of her brain, but actually to write down what it is that she's giving herself full permission to do. I've been thinking about this concept about Bernay brown writing herself permission slips, and the things that I'm talking about in this episode today, because this idea of permission is a theme that has been showing up lately in our coaching calls, in your missing piece.

It's been showing up as, as in it's one thing to say, I'm just tired this week. I'm so tired. And it's another thing on a very different thing to ask the question, have I given myself 100% permission to be tired? Am I honoring that tiredness? Or am I pushing through the tiredness or numbing the tiredness or somehow judging myself for being tired? Like I said, this has been coming up as a real theme and it has been so powerful to notice the difference to notice that, oh, you know, I'm talking the talk, but no, I really haven't given myself permission to be tired. As in I respect my tiredness. It is okay for me to be tired. Of course, I'm tired. It's been a really challenging week. How can I take care of my tiredness, knowing what your hidden hunger is and giving yourself permission, full, complete, nonjudgmental permission to have that hidden hunger can be such different things and they can lead to such different results.

So here are some questions that you can ask. What would it look like to give yourself full permission to be tired when you're tired? What does it look like to give yourself full permission, to be proud of yourself or full permission to crave relief? What does it look like to have full permission, to feel a tough, emotional, or a tough feeling that you're having? And what would you do think about your hidden hungers that you know about? What would you do if you gave yourself full and complete permission to address or take care of, or simply acknowledge the hidden hunger or the need that you have. And there's a very important point in that. Okay. Giving yourself full permission to be, or to feel or to know something about yourself or about your situation is not the same thing as having to do something about it.

If we don't make this distinction, it is a place where it is so easy to get paralyzed. So I'm going to say it again, giving yourself full permission to be, or feel or know something about yourself or about the situation that you're in is not the same as telling yourself that you have to do something about it. So for example, sometimes giving yourself permission to be tired means allowing yourself to crawl into bed. That would be doing something about the tiredness and sometimes giving yourself full permission to be tired means continuing to finish out the day that you want to finish out, but doing it with this deep understanding and compassion for the fact that you're tired, which is so different from pushing against yourself or denying your tiredness or trying to numb out or compensate with food. So you can just get through and not be tired, right?

And keeping your head just above water. This concept of permission really has the capacity to change both your thinking and the actions that you choose to take telling yourself that you just need to knock off your stress, eating or stop the emotional eating or the board of meeting or the comfort eating is so different from starting with permission. It is so worth asking yourself the questions. What would you discover if you gave yourself full permission to crave stress-relief or permission to have the feeling that you have or permission to be bored? And by the way, boredom is an interesting case because boredom is so often something that we feel guilt or shame about. Like, I mean, we were raised to be told we shouldn't be bored, or we should be able to find something interesting to do. What if when you were bored, you gave yourself permission to have that feeling, instead of having the thought that there's something wrong with you for being bored or that you need to somehow block it out or distract yourself, or I don't know, numb yourself with food.

What if you gave yourself full permission in the moment to crave comfort or to desire, acknowledgement, to feel relief and remember giving yourself permission to have the need and to have the hidden hunger does not equal. I have to know what to do about it. I have to fix this thing. I have to be productive, or even I have to make it go away, which is actually very different from giving yourself permission to habit. So often emotional eating or overeating is something that you do to cover up a feeling that what you really need isn't okay, or that you shouldn't need it, or that you can't have that feeling or thought and that you need to make it go away. So often that is the trigger for emotional eating or overeating. This concept of permission is very different than the deprivation thinking that your brain might be used to.

And your thoughts might tell you that it's not okay to give yourself permission, to really have the experience of your hidden hungers. You might have thoughts that it is not okay to really feel or to want or to need the thing that you're really wanting or needing or feeling, especially if you don't know how to make that happen. But those thoughts are not truth. Knowing yourself, and connecting with yourself, being connected to yourself is one of your most important sources of power. It's what connects you to you. It's how you be. You, your hidden hungers are telling you something that is so important about what you need and about how to take care of yourself. So find out what your hidden hungers are. Take a look at where you're giving yourself 100% complete nonjudgmental permission and be honest about where your not permission can make all the difference. Do not be afraid to sit down and write yourself an actual bonafide permission slip. I'll talk to you soon.

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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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