When You’d Rather Overeat Than Try Self-care | TMOHP Episode 067

Self-care and overeating or emotional eating are intimately related. Weight gain, bingeing, mindless eating, stress eating, comfort eating - all happen when food becomes the band-aid for what we really need or crave. So why is it that sometimes we know what self-care looks like for us, but we don’t want to do it?

I’m coming out of an exhausting and stressful week and am freshly reminded of how powerful the urge is to not do the thing that would ultimately feel like self-care. Whether it’s fueled by exhaustion or stress or a rebellious reaction to the idea of one more thing to do, the resistance to self-care (when I need it the most) is real. And it’s real for my clients and members of Your Missing Peace. So what’s a smart woman to do? In this episode, I’m sharing a quick tip that helped me do better (not perfectly) during a rough week.

In this episode:

  • The human response to self-care: “I don’t want to.”
  • The relationship between self-care, overeating, emotional eating, and bingeing
  • Two questions that helped me get through a very difficult week without using food to cope

Featured on the show:

  • Join me for my upcoming, free 5-Day Freedom from Overeating Workshop for Smart, Busy Women. Participate in one hour of live training (online) with Dr. Melissa McCreery each day. By the end of day 5, you'll have a brand framework for addressing your eating, along with new habits and strategies that allow you to lose your cravings and triggers to eat. One that doesn't rely on deprivation, diets, or being harder on yourself. Go here to reserve your free seat.
  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more

Episode Transcript

Welcome to another episode of The Too Much On Her Plate podcast. You know, as I'm recording this, it is a very busy time of year. And I'm smiling as I'm saying that because I'm thinking when isn't it a busy time of year? Right? Life is busy. That's one of the realities that gets ignored so often in our big perfectionistic plans of what we will do and what we should do and, what we're going to do.

Anyway, I thought it would be really helpful to share what I consider to be a very important trick for better self-care. Because self-care is the foundation for everything. And self-care, whether you're getting self-care, what self-care looks like. Whether you are nourishing yourself and taking care of yourself, that is inextricably linked with your patterns with food, your relationship with food and for so many people, whether or not overeating or binging or emotional eating is a challenge for you. 

Because let's face it, when you're busy food, reaching for something to eat, wandering into the pantry, or going to the drive-through or the vending machine so often becomes this Band-aid. This quick temporary fix for the stuff that you're not really getting. Right? 

So here's some background for this episode. I have just come through what has been a truly exhausting week. It involved a family member in the midst of a health crisis. So a lot going on, a lot of changes to routine. I was exhausted, I was worried. A lot of stress. So in those situations, I think it's really important to take a step back and talk about what is self-care? Really?

Because so often self-care, our thoughts about that include these kind of pie in the sky, thoughts about luxurious times away and bubble baths and you know, things that we really enjoy. But in those times, in those acute times of stress and anxiety and worry and exhaustion, it's not about the bubble baths or the half day retreats or the appointments at the spas. It's also, or it's always the little things.

In those moments in those times, in those weeks- self-care is the little things, the realistic things, the doable things that ground us. That nourish us. That help us to be, to show up as the best version of ourself that we can be in that moment. Not the perfect version, but that help give us the things that we need to keep going.

Self-care can get really practical and really granular. But it's about caring for our senses, caring for our needs, our desires, our feelings. So that we feel taken care of. Taken care of enough. So that we feel replenished. Replenished enough. So that we feel tended to. So that we can keep doing the things that are important to us.

And here's the thing, I think this is a very important reminder. I was reminded of it in the last week. In the situations where self-care is so acutely important in those moments where we really need to be taking care of ourselves so we can show up. It's also probably true often that exhaustion or stress or even rebellion against the idea of having to do one more thing is high in those situations.

It's those situations where self-care is so important. Where the thought, I don't want to is really likely to crop up. At least it did for me this week. And I hear this with clients, I hear this with members of Your Missing Peace all the time. How do you do the thing that you don't want to do? So over the past week, my brain could come up with these ideas for self-care. But I'll be honest, I didn't want to do the caring things for myself.

I didn't wholeheartedly want to get up off the couch and fill my water glass. I didn't want to go upstairs and sort out my supplements for the week. And believe me, that's not a big job. There aren't that many of them. I didn't want to clean out the coffee maker. I didn't want to grind the coffee beans for tomorrow's coffee. I didn't want to even go get the book that I was enjoying reading and read for 10 minutes instead of sitting where I was and mindlessly scrolling through the internet in a way that wasn't satisfying at all. I didn't want to stretch out my stiff neck. I wanted to not have a stiff neck, but I didn't want to do one more thing.

I didn't want to take 10 minutes to plan meals for the day. I didn't want to take 10 minutes to make any kind of plan. I didn't want to set a timer and do deep breathing. I didn't want to go outside and go for a walk. I didn't want to. I was tired. I was sleeping poorly, and I didn't even want to take a nap. I'm not a very good napper, but the nap was the logical thing that would've made me feel better. It would've helped a lot. 

I didn't want to do any of those things, even though I knew they were important. I knew. I know that taking care of hidden hungers is fundamental. It's important. It helps me be the person I want to be. I knew, I know that doing these things ultimately makes me feel better than not doing them. But my actual in the moment hidden hungers, my exhaustion, my stress, my emotions, my busyness, my need for compassion, all of them were helping me lean into this thought of, I don't want to, I'll just skip it. I don't want to do another thing.

I'm guessing you can relate to this at least a little bit, and I know I am not alone in, in how this builds up and how this pattern plays out. Now, there's also a side note skipping these kinds of things, these self-care acts that I described, these little simple acts. Skipping these things that actually feed and take care of hidden hungers that that ends up creating a cycle that so often leads to mindless eating or eating because you're exhausted, or stress eating or emotional eating or eating as a reward. Self-care, or not getting self-care, and whether or not you overeat or binge or emotionally eat these things go together. 

So you start with a stressful situation or an exhausting situation, and then you think about the self-care, and then I you, we have the feeling of I don't want to, and then our hidden hungers go unfed. And then because our hidden hungers are unfed, maybe we're eating in a way that we don't want to, or we're overeating and then we, I am feeling like crap because I'm not only not getting what I need in this tough situation, I'm not getting the self-care, but I'm also doing the eating that I didn't want to do. And so now I have that piling on. 

This my friends, is what a vicious cycle with overeating looks like. And this is how those vicious cycles happen. So in this situation that I just went through, the overeating and the emotional eating didn't happen. Now there is no such thing as perfect eating, and I don't aim for any kind of perfect in my day-to-day eating, but I do know, and I can say that I did not use food and I didn't use eating to cope during this really hard, emotional, stressful week.

I didn't eat perfectly, and again, there is no perfect. But, you know, I didn't eat true to my usual eating or the, the, the meals that I usually put together. But food was not a coping strategy over this stressful week. So I'm not putting myself up there as some, some kind of poster child who did it perfectly. I want to be very clear about this. But I also want to be very clear that there are some simple things that worked for me that can work for you. That helped me sidestep the whole battle with food. 

I used two questions that I asked myself when it occurred to me during the week. So the first was, what does self-care really look like right now? What does it really look like right now? Not what do I really want? What would I love? But in the moment, practical, what does self-care for me look like right now? And that was things like a deep breath, taking five minutes, going and changing into a comfy sweatshirt. It was something as simple as taking the time which was like five minutes to make a healthy lunch so that I didn't end up with a headache or a sugar crash in the afternoon. Self-care sometimes was okay self-care for me right now is forcing myself to get outside even for just a few minutes. That's the first question. What does self-care look like right now? Real self-care that I can really do. Right?

And when I felt that I don't want to all the way down to my toes, I mean, I felt it big. This is the question I asked. How does my future self feel about that? How does she feel about not doing this thing? And I'm not talking about this future pie in the sky, aspirational, perfect version of myself years from now. Right?

That has it all figured out. How does that woman feel? No, I'm talking about my future self in a few hours. My future self this afternoon, my tomorrow version of myself. How does she feel about waking up tomorrow morning to a dirty coffee maker with no coffee? How does she feel sitting down on the couch with the mug of French roast that was waiting for her because I made the coffee and set the timer? How does my future self feel? The one who skipped lunch and has a headache, and who now wants to eat anything in sight because her biochemistry is all out of whack and she's hangry. 

How does it feel to be my future self? The one who took 10 minutes, who took 10 minutes before she walked into the situation so that she feels intentional and grounded in her body instead of stressed out and reactive.

I literally stopped and thought about me. The woman who wakes up tomorrow morning who maybe didn't get much sleep or maybe didn't sleep well, but she's hydrated and she had her vitamins and she took that little bit of time to check in with herself. And so many times, not all the times, but so many times, asking that question, thinking about her, seeing her in my mind a few hours from now, helped me do the thing I didn't want to. Because my future self did want to do it. 

I recently threw this question out in the private Facebook community that goes along with the Missing Peace program. The, the question that I posed to the group members was, what are the acts of kindness that your future self needs or wants that you feel really good about providing to her? And it was just so fun to see the little things. The little things that make a huge difference when you think about what does she need? What will she appreciate? What will help her feel nourished? 

Self-care is not a magical spell that falls over us where we want to do it all the time. It's not this thing that we always feel inspired and anxious and excited to do. In fact, self-care is often the most important when it's the hardest. Right? Making it a rule or a should. Sometimes that works, but that I don't want to rebellion. It's real. And when you think about the circumstances, it's also understandable. 

So what does self-care really look like in those moments? It's probably small and basic. And by the way, small and basic never means that it's not worth the trouble. And by the way, it is also imperfect. Self-care, what does self-care look like? Self-care is about the things that you can do, that you can actually do. And in my experience, it is perfectly normal to not want to do them. Have compassion and then check in with your future self, your tonight self, your tomorrow morning version of you. What does self-care look like for her? 

These are my quick tricks for better self-care. They worked for me this week and I hope they're helpful for you. 

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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