Steps to Stop Overeating
Overeating can wreak havoc on your mental, emotional and physical health if left unaddressed, and the talking down to yourself that typically follows flushes a lot of energy and self-love down the toilet. If you are binging regularly and beating yourself up about it, you’ll also have much less time to focus on what really matters to you – your dreams, relationships, contributing, having fun.
Yet despite what your reason and intelligence tells you to do (i.e., stop overeating), you are still unable to close the bag of processed (or raw) chips.
Emotional eating can be a very challenging habit to release as usually:
It is a deeply ingrained behavior.
You have been doing it for a very long time both consciously and unconsciously.
It can be frightening to consider a life where you don’t numb yourself with food, even if it is a conscious choice.
Processed foods and junk foods are highly addictive, so even without the emotional component they can be extremely hard to stop eating.
But it can be done.
What is needed is support, compassion, kindness and a safe space without judgment where you can release your fears, and identify your emotions, triggers and real needs. Having a toolbox of strategies is essential to do this.
Here are some tools that you can start using immediately:
1. Identify what’s really going on
Do you stop long enough to see what emotion you are feeling before you stuff them down with food?
One of the most powerful things you can do is to train yourself to stop when you have the urge to eat, and ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” If the answer is no, ask yourself “What emotion am I really feeling?”
This alone can bring so much awareness that small shifts in your eating behavior will occur. You will realize that your heart and soul wants to be heard and fed, but the late-night box of candy isn’t doing it.
2. Find a safe place or person to release to
To heal your relationship with food, you need to safely express yourself and release the emotions you feel. A safe place or person will allow you to do this. There can also be a lot of shame and embarrassment around overeating, particularly binging, so a safe space to release becomes even more important.
Get into a journaling practice where you can write about whatever you are feeling with no talk back, criticism or judgment. Find a person you can speak to about your behavior and what’s really going on for you. Create or find a space where you can go to be quiet, think, cry, laugh, journal, talk, meditate. Having a space that you can always go to will give you a sense of comfort, nourishment, familiarity and a haven as you heal.
3. Create a sacred ritual
One of the best ways to nourish yourself every day is to create a sacred ritual that makes you feel centered, strong and harmonious. When you include this in your routine, you will find that over time you are better able to identify and address thoughts, feelings and stress that contribute to overeating (and other unhelpful habits).
What you include in your ritual is entirely up to you. For most people, one or a combination of the following works well:
Yoga and stretching
Drinking water or herbal tea
Reading inspirational material
Listening to music
Speaking to a loved one
Playing with your pets
Having a hot
bath or shower
4. Understand and appreciate what food gives you
For many people who suffer from disordered eating patterns, food is the enemy. You stuff yourself and make yourself sick with it. You feel compelled to eat copious quantities until you feel heavy, tired, unwell and miserable. It adds the kilos to your body that you despise. It is the enemy you have to avoid at all costs to stay thin because that’s what you see as beautiful, worthy or your way of maintaining a sense of control in your life.
For many of the women I work with, an important step in their healing is helping them to understand what food really is – how it gives life, nourishment, beauty, joy, pleasure, energy, healing and comfort. Nourish yourself with real, high-quality whole foods that are not filled with chemicals, refined sugar, salts and fats, and learn how they produce beauty, health and energy. Respect is built for the role food plays within your body and a respect for your body itself also grows.
5. Unleash your creativity and do something you love every single day
You have endless creativity and passion within you. When you don’t allow yourself to express, create, be and do as you’d like to, you end up repressing yourself. Repression leads to out-of- control binges as a temporary way to numb that undirected energy.
Find a way to build in some time every day to do something you love, that gives you a creative outlet for self-expression, and that allows you to be exactly who you are or takes you a step closer to that.
Before you start using the “no time or energy” excuse, know that you only need five minutes to start doing this. If you have more, that’s great. If you are honoring your needs and desires by acting on them every day, you will be far less likely to look for the answer in cake. Self- satisfaction and happiness comes with nourishing your whole being – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – consistently. This is your way out.
Without the drain of overeating, think about how much time, energy and health will be freed up to focus on what you really want out of your life! As someone who has a long history of emotional and disordered eating, I can tell you that you can overcome it, and the freedom and reward you will feel is truly worth the effort.