Lucy (not her real name), was ready to throw in the towel. She’d been struggling with the same 20 pounds for years, and every time she’d get into a groove with healthier eating and exercise, something would pull her off track. And there she’d be, back in her old, automatic pattern of reaching for something to eat in the late afternoon and treating herself to her favorite junk food before bed.
She’d lost the battle with her urge to overeat so many times that she doubted her ability to ever be effective. This made her mad, frustrated with herself, and she felt weak and ashamed. Every time the cycle repeated itself she felt worse.
Until … we talked about her triggers.
I want to shout this from the rooftops:
Overeating triggers deserve your respectful attention!
Something triggers your hunger, or prompts your hand to automatically reach for a second helping. It’s only by respecting this reason – this overeating trigger – that long lasting, comfortable changes (what I call peace with food and freedom from overeating) are possible.
For Lucy, frustration, shame, and self-blame were clouding her ability to see the triggers – the reasons – that were behind her overeating. Because she wasn’t aware of them, she couldn’t address them. She was stuck in a pattern of:
Unidentified trigger –> Automatic response (eating)
Autopilot behaviors that we don’t understand leave us feeling powerless and out of control. That’s not a recipe for success.
When you understand what’s triggering your overeating, you can start to address the patterns effectively
When Lucy started searching for the reason she was craving food (when she wasn’t hungry), she identified two powerful triggers – feeling ineffective, and feeling deprived.
At her desk in the afternoon, pondering her never-ending project list and her dwindling energy, her feelings of overwhelm and ineffectiveness were triggering her to head to the break room for a snack (or three). At the end of her long day, when she felt like she’d been going non-stop with nothing in it just for her, her nightly junk food fix soothed her feeling of deprivation.
Lucy was being triggered to overeat
Once she understood what was triggering her overeating, Lcuy was able to start unlinking that automatic connection she’d been creating between the trigger and food.
Feeling ineffective isn’t hunger; and eating doesn’t do anything to “fix” that trigger of ineffectiveness. And, as Lucy understood the way she had connected these triggers to food, we were able to work together to break those faulty connections and create plans that addressed her triggers for overeating so much more effectively.
When food loses its power, it no longer haunts you. Overeating becomes far less tempting – and even unappealing.
Understanding your triggers is a critical first step.
I created a cheat sheet for you with the top ten triggers for overeating.
It’s free. Go here to download it. It very well may be the first step toward taking your power back.