How to Stop Overeating in 5 Minutes or Less

Overeating is a changeable pattern. It’ll take about 5 minutes…5 minutes of kind, curious reflection each time you’re not happy with how you’ve eaten.

Hang with me here. This is big.

Change starts with realizing something new. Realizations often come after we’ve stopped to think a bit. The new insights we gain influence new behavior, which brings more insight, which leads to more new behavior and on and on it goes. It’s a beautiful upward spiral.

Over time you rewire the software in your brain and the old patterns are over-ridden by the new ones.

To rewire our compulsive or habitual overeating, one of the most powerful things we can do is take a short timeout right after things haven’t gone the way we wish they had…

EVERY TIME* you overeat stop for a few minutes and:

1. Forgive yourself. No self-condemnation. No harsh judgment or shame. No “What in the world is wrong with me??!!” None of that. That just gums up the works, creates a downward spiral, and keeps you stuck.

2. Turn this overeating experience into something of great value to you. Instruct your mind to be quiet. Sit still a moment and become completely aware of your body. Be curious. Notice how you feel, and where. Focus on the sensations that feel uncomfortable.

3. Ask kind and helpful questions. Does my stomach feel bloated and heavy? Do my clothes feel tight? Do I feel tired and lethargic? How is my energy level? Do I like the way this feels? How would I like to feel next time? What could have changed this outcome? At what point might I have stopped eating that would’ve made this a good experience for me?

4. Connect the bad feelings with the overeating. Connection is powerful; it keeps us from being short-sighted.

We’re smart. We don’t touch hot stoves anymore. But dieting has blinded us – it’s caused the normal act of eating to become emotionally charged. When it comes to food we aren’t operating out of our usual innate wisdom. But we can. And we can feel vibrant, energized, and nourished after we eat. That’s not too much to ask.

Research shows that in most cases it takes about a year to rewire our thinking; maybe longer if our food struggle has been in place for decades. That’s certainly true of my story. The good news is, with a little help, we can create the change we want to see – 5 quiet minutes at a time.

*Of course I don’t mean literally EVERY TIME. Perfection isn’t necessary or possible but lasting change will take true consistency.

Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash

 

What’s Going On When Enough Food Isn’t Enough?

red flagWhat’s going on with us liberated eaters when we keep eating even though our stomachs are telling us to quit?

This happens to all of us now and then. Instead of getting sidetracked by guilt or fear, let’s explore what’s happening when enough food isn’t feeling like enough.

There are hundreds of reasons we might feel compelled to overeat – from old habits to new stressors – but let’s divide these myriad reasons into three main categories so it’s easier to find solutions.

There’s always a way through.

When enough isn’t feeling like enough, check in on these 3 possibilities:

1. Your life is raising a red flag: Something needs your attention. You really are hungry – just not for more food. So the question becomes

“What am I really hungry for?”

Could you need more fun? Connection? Creativity? Purpose? Wiggle room? Spiritual meaning? Peace? These are all legitimate needs that can feel a lot like gnawing hunger.

2. Your food-life is asking you to show up again: Maybe you’re not eating as mindfully these days, which is easy to forget in our distracting world. Thoughtful eating, however, is the strongest safeguard for our food-filled lives. Becoming present before we take that first bite sets us up for sanity and satisfaction.

3. You’ve forgotten what you REALLY want: The more future-focused we are the easier it is to align our daily choices with our future dreams. When your goal of feeling great tomorrow is not top-of-mind today, it’s easy for the other half of that panini to look pretty special.

Keeping a shined-up mental picture of myself dancing joyously at my granddaughter’s wedding when I’m 85 makes it much easier to get to the gym at 59.

So there we have it, three different areas to explore. Here are some questions to think through if you’d like to dig a little deeper…

What might your life need more of right now? Or less? Would you be willing to journal about this or talk it through with a trusted friend this week?

How thoroughly have you been enjoying your eating experiences lately? On a scale of 1 to 10 how “present” are you these days?

How strong is your motivation for reaching and keeping your best health? What does this level of health look like for you? What might change if you focused on how you want to feel one year from today?

Ever Stuff Your Words Down With Food?

keep-calm-and-be-assertive-4Did you know that people who struggle with food tend to be exceptionally kind and nurturing, caring deeply about the needs and feelings of others?  They often generously give grace without extending it to themselves, and hold themselves to very high standards with no room for mistakes, while giving others ample mercy.

Those of us who struggle in our relationship with food can tend to be on the passive end of the passive-assertive spectrum. We often let others have the floor while we stand back in silence – even though there is much we’d like to have the courage to say. This frustration can push us to turn to food for relief.

Passivity diminishes personal power. We find it easier to stuff down our thoughts with food rather than stepping up and saying what we mean.

Here’s the good news: No one has to stay stuck there. Assertiveness is a skill that can be mastered. Anyone can develop it; all it takes is practice.

CLARITY: Assertive is not the same thing as aggressive or passive-aggressive. It is the healthy, powerful balance-point between the two. You can act in your own best interest, stand up for yourself without undue anxiety, express your feelings honestly and comfortably, and do so while respecting the rights of others to do the same.

As you develop assertiveness:

  • You get a clearer understanding of who you are and the value you bring.
  • Relationships become more genuine and true, and unhealthy ones may become evident.
  • You discover more wisdom for problem solving and solution finding.
  • You become less anxious when unexpected or difficult things happen.
  • You naturally step into your personal power and get more done (and have more fun doing it) because you have confidence that you can.
  • Other people’s successes are not a threat.  Assertiveness opens the door for us to respect and celebrate others as well as ourselves.

So, if saying what you mean makes you anxious, if you have a hard time saying no and then regret it later, if you feel overly timid when speaking to people in authority, if you tend to stay in conversations or on the phone much longer than you want to, or if you have difficulty expressing anger or other strong emotions – some work around becoming more assertive could be a life-changer.

If you’d like to read more, here are a few articles you may find interesting for starters:

Click here: 9 Signs of Passive Behavior 

Click Here: 5 Ways To Increase Your Assertiveness 

 

Could That Craving Be A Friend In Disguise?

The dreaded craving.                                                                                                                    sundae

Sometimes it’s a nagging whisper that you NEED a Blizzard. Sometimes, a demanding tyrant ordering you to drive through that drive-thru, or else!

Cravings feel like a powerfully intimidating voice from within.

But have you ever wondered if that forceful pull might mean something?

If it had a language what might it say?

What is it really asking for?

And what if you listened and then gave that to yourself?

What if the craving is your deepest-you knocking on your own heart’s door?

Could it be your own curious mind asking you to add something new and interesting to your life? Or maybe your amazing body letting you know she’s hungry for a new challenge or adventure.

Sometimes a rut can feel a lot like a craving.

We already know cravings aren’t really about the food. It certainly feels like it’s about the food – the sweet Bluebell, the salty Ruffles, the warm macaroni and cheese – but when we’re craving something to eat and our body is not in need of fuel, it has to be about something else – something other than fuel.

Pleasure perhaps? That’s a reasonable possibility – but what kind of pleasure exactly? My guess is that food is often a quick and easy counterfeit for the pleasure our minds or souls or bodies really crave. We are, after all, made for rich, full, whole-hearted living. Everything in us longs to create, to discover, to commune, to cultivate, to keep learning and growing – but our habitually busy schedules and noisy screen-filled lives can drown out our deepest desires. Drown out perhaps – but never drown.

Our deepest desires continue to call to us.

So here’s the compelling invitation before us. Next time you have a craving, instead of silencing the screaming child in your brain with Kettle chips, sit with her a moment – and lovingly listen. Meander down the road of your mind and look around, like an eager hiker on a new path – curious and alert.

Ask yourself some searching questions. What is this craving really about? Is there a craving behind the craving? Genuine heart connection? Engaged companionship? A new and interesting pursuit? Some good ol’ fun? Grief unexpressed? Could your bright mind be hungry to tackle some new venture? Or your soul thirsty for quiet reverence?

Perhaps my persistent cravings are really my deepest self yelling “Hey, if you aren’t gonna do anything stimulating you could at least get me an ice cream sundae. I’m dying of boredom in here! ”

So here’s an exciting invitation next time a craving comes beating on our door:

Stop a moment.
Create some room for silence.
Put your ear down close to yourself.
Just listen.

Become a curious and open explorer of your own inner life. This might feel weird at first – even scary. And you may not hear a thing the first go’round, but even if nothing specific surfaces I bet your deep self will appreciate your kind time and attention.

When we give into a craving without exploring first, we may be missing an opportunity to give ourselves what we truly desire.

This is rich work – work that dieting never ever invited us into. We might discover that our cravings have profound meaning after all. What if these cravings you’ve hated and battled for so long turn out to be a friend – nothing short of the beginning of you knowing and loving yourself like you never have before?

Now wouldn’t that be amazing…

Get Out of Your Emotional Eating Rut

roadI often talk to people who are trying very hard to STOP something. They want to stop eating emotionally or stop eating after dinner or stop snacking at their desk, or stop going through the drive-thru after work. They’re exhausted from the struggle.

The first thing we need to know is that behavior change is quite possible; there is always a way through, and together we can figure it out.

Second, we need to understand this fundamental point:

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does human nature.

If you want to stop doing something, make sure you start doing something else in its place. Replace the negative behavior with a positive one. If you don’t put something else in its place you will end up defaulting to your old behavior. Muscling through only works as long as your willpower lasts – and as we all know, willpower eventually runs out.

It’s usually much easier to start doing new things than it is to stop doing old things, and – this is cool – when we start doing things that work the things that don’t work tend to naturally fall away.

Important Change Principle: Choice empowers us.

Let’s take EMOTIONAL EATING as an example. If I want to stop reaching for food when I feel stressed I’ll need to have other stress-relieving choices easily available – choices that meet the same need eating does, only without the side-effect of regretting it later.

POWERFUL EXERCISE: Have choices ready that fit you. Stop, think and write down some things you can turn to next time you’re emotionally uncomfortable.

MAKE A LIST.  BE SPECIFIC.  FIND THINGS YOU CAN USE AT HOME & AT WORK:

  1. ACTIVITIES – List several things you enjoy doing that distract, please or refresh you. [ex: stroll, crossword puzzle, ride bike, solitaire, whittle, magazines, music] Have these things close by.
  2. PLACES – List places that help you calm down. [park, swing, your room, back yard]
  3. PEOPLE – List some positive people you can call anytime, people to whom you can vent your feelings or who make you laugh.
  4. WORDS – Write down some inspiring thoughts that encourage and strengthen you – could be poetry, scripture, quotes, lyrics, etc.
  5. RELAXATION TECHNIQUES – heating pad, yoga poses, back scratcher, deep breathing, etc

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RELAXING IDEAS

Now that you have your list – the next step is very important…

POST IT where you will see it.

Do not underestimate the power of this list. These choices give you POWER. These choices give you options. They keep you from falling into the old default behavior of overeating, and then hating yourself for it later.

Choices change our lives.

Remember, human nature abhors a vacuum. If you stop turning to food when you feel sad, stressed or bored but you don’t have something else to put in its place, it’s just a matter of time before you’re standing in the pantry or in front of the vending machine.

Have your choices ready at all times.

Picture a well-worn dirt road from “Little House on the Prairie”. There are deep ruts made by traveling this way for years. In fact, it’s difficult to take a wagon down this road without falling into them, and once you’ve fallen in its mighty hard to get out.

However, when you fill the ruts with new gravel – everything changes.

So, stop, think, make your list, post it in plain sight – and start being empowered to take good care of your amazing self!

 

Note: When it comes to emotional eating there is another important piece of the puzzle. Our reoccurring uncomfortable emotions are usually red flags that are trying to tell us that something needs our attention. If you continue to be pushed to eat to cope with your feelings, then it may be time to take a good look at the “why” behind the feelings…the why behind the why.

Feelings come up for a reason. Acknowledging them, being honest about them and listening to them is the first step to handling them well. If you want to explore this further, I’m on your team.