You Don’t Need More Willpower- Ending Emotional Eating | TMOHP Episode 071

Let’s assume you’re determined to figure out how to stop emotional eating or overeating. Your first step is likely to be something along the lines of telling yourself you won’t eat if you aren’t hungry. Women have been conditioned to believe that emotional eating and overeating result from a lack of willpower. That’s not true.

Saying no to overeating isn’t always simple In fact, overeating and emotional eating are often coping responses. If you don’t address the reason that food sounds so tempting, that reason never goes away. If you don’t address the reason for overeating, you WILL find yourself locked in an ongoing battle with food that relies on superhuman levels of willpower.

There’s a better way, and it can be boiled down to seven steps. They’re easy to explain and beginning to put them in place can lead to big changes with emotional eating and overeating.

In this episode:

  • Your lack of willpower is a myth
  • Why focusing on food doesn’t solve the problem
  • A 7-step plan to end overeating and stop emotional eating - without relying on willpower

Featured on the show:

  • Join me for the free 5-day Freedom from Overeating Workshop for Smart, Busy Women. In less than an hour a day I'll show you how to create freedom from overeating in your own life.
  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and get a free set of resources matched to your results.
  • 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
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Good morning everybody. Well, it's morning. When I'm recording this episode. Today, I want to give you a recipe, not a food recipe, but a really good recipe. So let's assume that you are determined to figure out how to stop emotional eating or overeating. I mean, you probably are or why else would you be listening to this podcast? Right? 

The truth is that what our brain wants to do when we get to that place where we are determined to make a change, what our brain wants to do isn't always the most helpful thing. Because making a plan that focuses on food, making a plan for what you're going to eat from now on. Right? For now and forever. Focusing on the food only goes so far. In focusing on the food, making a plan for what you're going to eat and when you're going to eat and how much you're going to eat. Sometimes it won't even get you past the, the cookies that your colleague brought in that are in the break room or the leftover brownies that are sitting on the counter in your kitchen.

Saying no to food is not always simple, and the idea that all you have to do is say no to food is an overly simplistic way of looking at the problem. Saying no to food is not always simple. It bears repeating and regardless of what you might be telling yourself and regardless of what diet culture has left you believing, I am willing to bet that you are probably not short on willpower.

Do you know how automatically we have been taught and we have reinforced ourselves to equate a failure to get where we wanted to go with overeating and emotional eating with a shortage of willpower? If you're not, if you're not getting the results you want, it's a willpower problem. Do you know how automatically we make that connection?

Be honest with yourself. Take a deep breath. And then take a figurative step back and look at yourself. Look at your life. , look at all the discipline that you show in the rest of your life. Look at all the things that you do that you don't really want to do. The challenges that you take on. The hard stuff that you make happen. The things that you have accomplished. The ways that you have shown up for yourself and for other people. I am willing to bet that you are not short on willpower. 

Let's underline one fundamental, really important truth. For most smart, busy women, overeating includes a fair amount of emotional eating and focusing on food alone isn't going to fix the problem. Neither is telling yourself that you just need to be stronger or conjure up more willpower. That isn't the problem and it's not a viable solution. 

Here's another fundamental truth. Most of us women are busier, more stressed and more overwhelmed than ever, and we are heavily influenced and marketed to. And educated to use food for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with fuel. Stress eating, comfort eating, eating because we are exhausted or because we have feelings that we don't know how to cope with. Having limited time and energy and overwhelm. All of these things fuel the overeating machine. And no food plan in the world addresses these very powerful triggers to overeat. 

So stop feeling guilty for not being stronger. Stop telling yourself that the solution is to focus on food or to conjure up superhuman levels of willpower and never lose your grip on it. Today I want to present you with something better. Today I want to present you with a recipe for success with overeating and emotional eating that you can actually live with. I think you probably know that I am a strong proponent of making changes that last and making changes, especially with food and overeating by solving the problem.

What I mean by solving the problem is figuring out how to take the power away from food. Figuring out how to lose the cravings figure. Figuring out how to create a relationship with food that isn't based on struggle or having to be in control or feeling like you want to cheat on it. Right? I really believe that the key to ending over eating is creating a relationship with food that works for you that you want to have and that makes you happy.

So what I want to cover today are seven steps that really, truly end patterns of overeating. They don't just keep you in a battle of constant self-control, but seven steps to really truly end overeating. So ways to stop emotional eating and overeating without relying on willpower or going hungry. 

Now, here's the thing, the steps that I'm about to cover are easy to explain they don't take a lot of words. They're pretty straightforward. They sound simple. They can be complicated. And they are, I think of them as let's call them head nodders. They're the kind of things that you can say and people nod and say, of course, of course. Yes, I get it. But what I want you to do is I want you to think about each of these steps and really be honest with yourself about whether this is a step that you are accomplishing in your life, or if maybe this is a place where you get tied up in knots or are maybe feeling stuck. Again, these are easy to explain they can be complicated to execute and they get even more complicated if you get tied up in this idea that you have to get them perfect. You don't. It's not possible. Welcome to the human race. You can let go of that. So just take these in, see if they're a fit for you, and then do your best. Okay, here we go.

These are seven steps to really end overeating and emotional eating. The place to start is not with a food plan. It is to stop blaming yourself for past failures with weight loss. And as always, I'm putting failures in air quotes. Stop blaming yourself for the past and instead of being angry, instead of blaming yourself, instead of telling yourself that it is your job to conjure up more willpower and try harder, focus on generating curiosity. Focus on being curious about what has been happening. What has been going on? Asking yourself from a place of compassion what you know about why you have not achieved the success that you wanted in the past. Why does the overeating and emotional eating keep happening? 

Which brings us to step two, and that is to pay attention to why and when you overeat. Once you've activated that curiosity, then we're going to use it more and more and more. Pay attention to why and when you overeat. There is always a reason and it is not because you are weak or lazy. So if you start looking for reasons and you start trying to be curious, and every explanation starts with I and ends with a criticism, I want you to put those aside. Set a policy that those are not going to be the answers that you are going to collect today. Put those over there and then look for other possible explanations. Pay attention to why and when you overeat, and then you move into the next phase of the recipe.

Which is to ask yourself a question. The third step is to ask yourself what you know about what you are really hungry for. Ask yourself with an open, non judgey mind. Be curious. What are you really hungry for? What are you craving that isn't actual fuel for your body, for your muscles, for your bones? Right? We often eat for stress relief or for a reward, or a way to go numb or to avoid something. We eat because we're anxious or because we're exhausted or because we're bored. What are you really hungry for? This is a powerful question. You may not know the answer at the beginning. If it's not something you've been practicing, paying attention to you, your brain may go blank when you ask the question. But it's a very powerful question to get in the habit of asking. And it only works when you set aside that judgment. When you set aside the blaming yourself and when you really approach it with compassion and curiosity. 

So you've agreed to stop blaming yourself for past things that didn't work. You are starting to pay attention to why and when you overeat. You are beginning to practice asking yourself what you're really hungry for.

The fourth thing that is a piece of this recipe for long-term success is to examine the reasons that your past attempts have failed. What did you need that you didn't have? What would've been helpful that wasn't a part of the plan? What could have made the plan work better for you? Did you need support or accountability? Were you lacking motivation? Did you need more strategies and tools? Did you have feelings that you weren't comfortable dealing with or, or you didn't know how to respond to? What did you need? That the plan didn't provide. 

This is another place where it is so easy to get hooked into blaming yourself. Right? It failed because I didn't try hard enough. It failed because I was lazy. It failed because I didn't have enough willpower. It failed because I didn't make it to the grocery store. Be very careful of explanations that start with I and end in blame. I really want you to, this is not about deflecting responsibility. This is about looking realistically at the reasons that maybe the past attempts that you made weren't a good fit for you or for your lifestyle, or for your schedule, or for your preferences. A big key here, and in fact an important key in the entire process of creating peace with food and freedom from overeating is stepping out of self blame and stepping into curiosity and compassion for yourself. 

There's a reason you're overeating. There's a reason that you've been stuck. There is a reason that the past attempts haven't worked. So step four is to take a look at those things. 

Step five is to begin to create new ways to feed yourself, to nourish yourself, to take care of yourself that don't involve eating. Pay attention to what your triggers are. Pay attention to what happens before you reach for that bag of chips. What are the things that you are feeling? What are you needing? What do you know about these things? And start to create new ways that really address the underlying reasons that you are reaching for food.

Food plans address the food. Food plans rely on willpower, but food plans do not address the reasons that you wandered into the kitchen in the first place, or the reasons that you can't stop eating the ice cream, or the reasons that it feels so compelling to eat when you're not hungry. Right? So pay attention to what triggers you and start to build new ways of addressing things like stress and boredom or tough feeling.

If you find yourself overeating at night because you get to the end of the day and it feels like you just deserve something for you and there hasn't been something for you in the entire day. Then it is time to start looking at ways that you can treat yourself in ways that aren't food. And when you do this, when you start to create these new ways of feeding yourself. Really giving yourself what you need for nourishment, they ultimately work better than the food. Not only do they make the food less powerful because you are all, you are getting what you really need. You're not using food as a substitute. But when you address the things that you really need, the things that really nourish you. When you start to develop better ways of giving yourself these things more consistently. Then not only does your relationship with food get better, your life gets better.

Okay, so step one, stop blaming yourself for past failures with weight loss. Number two, pay attention to why and when you overeat. Step three, start practicing asking yourself what you're really hungry for that isn't food. Step four, examine the reasons that your past attempts have failed with compassion and curiosity, and with a real interest in learning how the plans that you put together could fit you better. Step five, create new ways to feed yourself and nourish yourself that don't involve eating. And expect to be imperfect with this. Right? This is going to be a process. But you're going to aim for building muscle in these areas. 

And then step six, start focusing on where you want to go. And stop beating yourself up for where you are. This one is so important. I'm going to say it again. Start focusing on where you want to go and stop beating yourself up for where you. Give yourself somewhere that you want to go. Create goals that actually put a smile on your face that are not a bunch of shoulds or kind of self punishments in disguise. Something that you have to do or you feel bad that you haven't done already. Right? Create a goal that excites you, that has meaning for you, and then design milestones along the way so you can see your progress. And reward yourself as you go. This is not all or nothing. This is not you start and then you get to a destination. There are lots of different pieces. We're covering some of them today. And so give yourself credit for creating those new ways of feeding yourself. Give yourself credit for designing a better different plan. Give yourself credit for being kinder to yourself and showing up for yourself. Design the reward.

Measure the milestones. Give yourself the rewards. Aim at something that is juicy and meaningful to you. Consider I if weight loss is a goal, then consider why. Why do you want to lose the weight? Why do you want to lower your cholesterol? Why you, why do you want to be healthier? What is the why that has real meaning for you and that puts a smile on your face. What amazing fun things do you want to do? What will you do when your first thought in the morning isn't whether you had a good day or a bad day with food? Where will you put that energy? What will it feel like to be kinder to yourself? What will it feel like to step into your enoughness and into your power? Focus on those things and stop beating yourself up and blaming yourself for where you are. 

The last step in this very powerful recipe to end emotional eating without relying on willpower and without going hungry, and without putting yourself in a cycle where you are endlessly starting over and blaming yourself is the all-important giving yourself permission to adjust along the way. Start with the understanding that you are not going to get it perfect. It's not possible. It's not to be expected. And even if it was possible, it wouldn't be helpful anyway, because you are going to change and grow and learn more about what works for you as you take this journey.

And creating a relationship with food that you love is a journey. So give yourself permission to tweak and to adjust things along the way and to get it absolutely imperfect as you go. Learn from what works, learn from what doesn't work, and then just keep moving forward. Pay attention to the places where you feel stuck. Get curious when you feel stuck. And if your problem is something like not knowing how to manage stress for instance, or having difficult feelings that you don't know how to cope with or feeling like you cannot untangle whatever situation is going on that is triggering your overeating. Then give yourself permission to ask for help or to gather new strategies. Or to get support in growing the places in your life that would help you be more successful. 

An emotional eating problem or an overeating problem is not a problem with food. An emotional eating problem or an overeating problem is a problem in your relationship with food. And a food plan does not fix the relationship problems. The key to addressing the relationship problems are, are really the seven steps that I just outlined. Getting clear on the fact that there is a reason this is happening for you, and then giving yourself the strategies and the support and the tools to give yourself something better. Something that a binge or a bowl of ice cream at night or a pattern of chronic snacking or overeating is never going to give you.

If you want help and some solid resources for getting started with this, then the easiest thing to do is go to the show notes and click the link to take my free hidden hungers quiz. The free quiz will outline for you your primary hidden hunger, and it will give you a very clear place to start applying this recipe. So it will give you a reason for overeating that you can start taking some tangible steps to address. You'll also get a customized profile that goes with your results, along with some resources that you can use. And again, those steps that match the results that you got on the quiz so you can start applying this recipe that I gave you today right away. So I will put the link to the hidden hungers quiz in the show notes. 

If you just want to grab that link on the fly, it is Or you can go to and the quiz is pretty easy to fine there.

All right, everybody. Have a wonderful rest of your day and 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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