Did you know there are five common reasons smart women overeat? They have nothing to do with food and they aren’t addressed by most of the weight loss or food plans out there. Today I’ll tell you all five of them, how having just one means you need to know about the others, and what you can do to outsmart these sneaky overeating triggers.
You’ve probably heard people use the term “overeating triggers”. Food is complicated and there are a number of things in our world, inside our minds, and in our physiology that can become triggers for overeating. Things like stress, a frustrating conversation, or having too much to do can all lead to overeating. It’s so easy to reach for something to eat in these situations because you want to “feel better.” The thing is, food doesn’t really solve the problem or address the Hidden Hunger that is causing us to overeat.
There are five very common reasons that smart, busy women get stuck in cycles with overeating. Let’s break down each one and talk about why you need to know about all five.
Five reasons women overeat
- Stress. Obviously, this trigger can easily lead to stress eating.
- Emotions. Strong emotions, emotions you’re not sure how to deal with, or emotional situations (like conflict) that you tend to avoid or feelings that you try to push down – responding to emotions may be the biggest reason that smart, busy women reach for something to eat when they’re not hungry. Emotional eating has sabotaged a lot of good intentions.
- Being too busy. This is an overeating trigger that many women overlook. When you’re too busy, it’s so tempting to reach for something to eat to take the place of something else, to overeat because you’re not paying attention – you’re focused on other things, or to overeat because you got too hungry because you were too busy to feed yourself well earlier in the day.
- Exhaustion. Sleep deprivation, poor sleep, and low energy cause a lot of overeating. We eat to perk up, to distract ourselves from our tiredness, and when we’re sleep-deprived, we’re physiologically hungrier. Exhaustion causes hunger and cravings to overeat.
- Avoidance. Have you ever found yourself eating when you aren’t really hungry just to zone out or not think about things? Sometimes overeating happens because you want to avoid the next thing on your to-do list, whether it’s writing that report, or getting ready for bed. Eating to avoid often shows up when we’ve got any of the other reasons to overeat going on. You eat to avoid when you’re too tired to deal with what’s in front of you, or you’re too stressed, or too busy, or you just don’t have the bandwidth to feel what you’re feeling. Avoidance eating is a major reason for mindless eating.
Do you notice anything about these five reasons?
They tend to travel together. If you’re struggling with one of these reasons, you’re likely to be struggling with two or three or even all five. Being too busy makes stress and exhaustion more likely which can lead to eating to avoid. The reasons you overeat can create vicious cycles that can feel really hard to break.
This is important: In the big picture, you can either take care of these needs – which deflates your urge to overeat and literally makes a lot of cravings go away – or you can keep fighting with these needs and trying not to overeat in spite of them.
Needs that you’re trying to manage with food become Hidden Hungers, and fighting Hidden Hungers all the time becomes a constant battle of willpower. It’s a battle that’s exhausting and unwinnable.
The good news is that once you know the reasons you’re overeating you can start to find ways to address them. You can stop fighting with your eating and start creating peace with food and freedom from overeating.
Here are five smart steps to stop overeating in a way that lasts.
- Respect the reasons you’re overeating and make it a goal to start getting your real needs met (instead of reaching for a cookie). If you haven’t checked out my video The Reason You Overeat, now would be a great time to do so.
- Start gathering tools and strategies for the emotions and feelings that you find challenging or that you know can trigger overeating for you.
- Be honest with yourself about how guilt and self-blame and being hard on yourself might be impacting your overeating. It’s time to tackle this and I’ll be sharing more tips about this in future videos.
- Remember that you’re busy, and you might be stressed and overwhelmed as well. Keep your expectations reasonable and do-able. Small steps add up. Expectations that are too big just keep you frustrated and endlessly starting over.
- This fifth step is critical. When it comes to overeating, it’s not enough to know what you don’t want to do – like don’t eat those cookies! Success happens when we know what to do instead. This is exactly the topic I’ll be covering in the next video “What to do instead of dieting”.
See you then,