The truth is all diets would work - if we could only stick to them.
So, given this, the problem is always our mindset, not the diet.
So why do we keep trying different diets when that's not the answer?
There's been times when we have had no problem sticking to an eating plan and changing habits but then suddenly we. can't. even.
So, we blame the diet and move on to try to find a better one. But after a million diets that didn't work, it might be useful to look at specifically what happened not with the diet but with our thinking.
One day the diet was working and the next day we couldn't stick to it. We didn't change. The food didn't change.
What changed was that on the day we quit we had a different thought. And not something obvious like "oh hey let's give up on healthy eating for the foreseeable future"- something more subtle and sneaky. Something harmless sounding like 'I deserve a treat, I've been so good'. Sounds reasonable. And then once we've bought that thought it becomes easier to buy another thought..
One of the most sneaky ones is "I just love food". I've had this one and also coached other people. It's culturally accepted as it makes overeating sophisticated and about 'passion' - suddenly it's fiiine to overeat. It's your passion, right? No one should get in the way of your passion!
But it's easy to call BS on this one. WhenI lived in France where they food passionates, I've never seen people be more sparing and moderate. Portion sizes are literally out of the '50s with a serving being a serving spoon size. And if you are indulging with a special meal there's no more quantity, just a slight upgrade in the quality and the amount of time to prepare the dish.
The point is not to feel bad about the amount of food we are eating - no one actually wants to eat a lot of food. When we become aware we can see it's actually just unpleasant. The point is to show how we have been conditioned to think around food that is allowing us to overeat consistently. Once we change the thinking we will change the feelings and actions that follow, and ultimately, our results.
This week take time to notice some of your sneaky food beliefs that are making overeating so appealing to you and keeping you from having the relationship to food you really want. For me, one of the most powerful beliefs I have created is "I'm just not that interested in food." Trust me, that's a long way from where I was a few years ago. But it's a thought that's now let me lose 30kg and keep it off while sticking to a healthy eating plan. It can work for you if you deal with the thinking rather than the diets.
Remember, if you want some accountability and help to apply these strategies and put the overeating struggle behind you I offer a free 45 min consult - zero obligation!
Have a great week,
Want to know what the single most powerful tool I know to stop binge eating? It's the skill of 'allowing' an urge to over eat without either resisting it or giving it to it.
This is possible even if you currently you feel like you’re completely out of control and eating against your own will. By slow things down and becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings we can begin the process of change.
Allowing is completely different to resisting an urge or waiting for it to pass. And by doing this we can...
1) experience the urge fully without judgement by simply naming sensations as they arise in the body
2) cultivating a mindset of gentle curiosity - what does an urge really feel like?
When I first did this I just noticed and wrote down the sensations and the thoughts that came with it as well as the actual level of physical hunger I was experiencing, which often was surprisingly low. For most people the urge to binge doesn’t come from hunger but more from a sense of craving. You might notice that your stomach actually feels relatively full or only slightly hungry, so you can begin to see the binge as not hunger but a conditioned response to stress or a specific situation.
The good news is each time you allow an urge to binge and don’t indulge it, it weakens the urge. And if you allow urge to be there without rewarding it with food or distracting yourself from the urge, the urge will die off. This is the promised land of any behaviour change. Suddenly the urge just isn't there anymore. The theory behind this is called operant conditioning, the theory Pavlov arrived at after experiments training dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell by associating the bell with food rewards. If they got food every time it sounded they would drool just at the sound of the bell. But more importantly, they stopped salivating over time when the bell was rung and no food was offered.
We can do the same and de-condition ourselves from binge and overeating just by staying present to the urge to eat (aka the sound of the bell) without rewarding it by eating. Eventually the urge dies off.
It's worth noticing that the urge itself is powerless. It’s like an alarm but it doesn’t have the ability to make you do anything. You actually have to act on the urge by deciding to eat. In fact, it’s less effort not to eat.
One task I give clients is to try to have 100 allowed urges in order to challenge them to break the habit of bingeing for good.
Even if you aren’t willing to try allowing an urge you can start with cultivating awareness when you do binge and that can be enough to start the process of long-term change. And it’s a skill we can develop even over the holiday season.
Remember if you want help with bingeing I offer a free one on one consult with, seriously, no pressure. I have got past this, and I know you can too.
Have a great week,
How do you approach making changes to overeating?
Find yourself wanting to make big changes right now because you feel like you’ve put your life on hold for emotional overeating long enough?
I hear you. I was the same. Like most of my most clients, I just wanted the struggle with bingeing and weight to be over. Now. Or yesterday.
Either we want to lose 30 lbs by Christmas or we don’t want to even start. That’s the crazy diet mentality at work. We suddenly take on a complete overhaul of the way we eat and one small set back we give up altogether.
But if there’s any ‘secret’ to stopping binge and emotional overeating it’s being willing to make small changes that are long term.
Most of us have been fighting so long we have battle fatigue and have given up altogether.
But you can win the battle and get your life back if you change strategies to picking a small tactical skirmish you can win.
This is the exact opposite of a diet. Instead of trying to change everything now, pick one small change you can stick to forever and try adopting as ‘just something you do’.
I can trace the exact moment I finally started to have success with overcoming binge eating. I stopped years of bingeing and emotional overeating when I made the relatively small decision that I would never eat to being completely overfull again.
This was actually pretty easy to stick to because it was such a small commitment, it seemed do-able. Once I started slowing down the binges I could increase my awareness. When I did this I could see that actually, eating to overfull isn’t comfortable. Then I thought if I can change that I could make another small commitment which was to eat regular meals of real food instead of just grabbing snacks throughout my busy day. So from that first tiny habit, I ended years of feeling powerless to stop overeating.
Even though this small change seems too small to make a difference sticking to it was enough to prove to myself that I could change long-term after breaking so many diets. From this, I eventually added the ability to allow urges to binge without responding to them. This was a game-changer. (I will tell you more about this next week.)
I find that if people get confidence with one small habit they have confidence that they can break the urge to binge or overeat when it arises.
The good news is, this is something you can start now even with the holidays coming up. It doesn’t require a New Year’s Resolution and it’s something that you can keep for good when all of the dieters have quit in January.
I invite you to try making one tiny small change today. Here are some ideas.
One of the biggest challenges binge and over eaters face is believing they can change with so many years of failed diets to prove them wrong. If there’s one thing I know for sure, is that if I can do it after more than 20 years of binge and overeating … you can too.
It’s never too late to start. Pick one small change you can make today.
Have a great week,
Remember, if you need help applying these strategies I'm always here to help. I offer a 20-minute online mini-session where I am happy to coach you through an issue for free. It ’s zero obligation just so you can get to experience the power of coaching first hand. Zero sales pressure and as always I promise you will get value.
People often think that they should stop emotional overeating so they can lose weight and finally be happy. I always tell people you don’t need to lose weight to be happy, in fact, it works better if you are happy with your body before you lose weight. Loathing can only get you so far on any diet plan, then there’s the crash and binge.
I personally believe the only reason to stop bingeing and emotional overeating is because bingeing and dieting function as distractions. We overeat and binge to avoid unwanted feelings. And the ultimately the diet-binge cycle provides a distracting sideshow that stops us from moving forward with our lives.
I remember when my days were planned around food. Either what I would be eating through the day or what I would allow myself to have at the end of the day. Honestly, so much of my mental energy was spent on diet and food I hardly had time to think about what I really wanted outside of stopping overeating and losing weight. Plus, everything I wanted in my life was delayed until after I got this binge thing under control and yet my days were filled with thinking about food.
So many clients come to coaching feeling absolute stuck in the cycle of dieting and bingeing just like I was.
It wasn’t until I stopped using food as my “go-to” to avoid emotions and learned to process them that I really got a handle the problem and lost weight for good.
Frankly, the real benefit was not getting past the shame and embarrassment of bingeing or even losing weight, it was the time and focus I got once I learned to manage my mind and emotions around food. All of a sudden I was using that same energy to move forward on my business, my social life and my family.
I was no longer putting my life on hold till after I got this overeating thing handled. I just didn’t think about food and the urge to binge was completely gone.
And this is true of anything we use as a distraction, whether is a drink at the end of the day that turns in to more than one or two leaving you tired the next morning, or the Netflix binge that has you scrambling to catch up with all the things that you should’ve got done. It’s easy to spot when we are in an over-consumption distraction loop because there’s always that sense that we are out of control and powerless to stop it.
Managing our thoughts around food is the key to change. I never thought there would be a day where I could honestly say “It’s only food” and mean it. That I could go to a restaurant and look at the menu for an option that fits with my plan and not feel deprived. It’s just a non-issue now. Sure, I still have foods just for the flavour but they are planned and I never have that sense of deprivation around food because I have taken the time to explore and manage the thoughts I have around food and to work on changing them over time.
An exercise that you can use to begin to understand your relationship with food is to use the prompts below to understand how you are thinking about food today. Make sure you answer each of these questions quickly and honesty so you can see the thoughts that are running your relationship to food. If you take the time to write down the answers on paper it’s even more powerful in revealing your thinking to you.
The last prompt should tell you a lot about what you are thinking prior to a binge, so take note of that one in particular because that is one of the thoughts that is driving your urge to binge.
Notice if you have conflicting stories about food. Some positive and some negative. You might think food is ‘love’ and food is bad at the same time. It’s this conflict that leads to us feeling like we are actually eating against our own will. The thought that food is bad drives us to limit food, while the thought that food is love drives us to binge.
Until you really take the time to look at what is in your mind you can’t begin to create thoughts that are in alignment with how I want to think, feel and act around food?
Ask your self how do I feel when I think that ‘food is love’ when you are considering stopping overeating? Most likely, it makes you feel ‘deprived’ or something similar. Now notice how you act when you feel this way? Again, if you are like most binge eaters you’ll find this feeling is what drives your bingeing.
It sounds crazy but it really is this simple. Thoughts create feelings which drive our actions.
By identifying the thought you can begin to work to change it. And by changing the thought and you will begin to be able to change the feeling and action. Do this enough and you will be able to change your relationship to food for good. And most importantly you will be able to get on with more important things in life than constantly obsessing about food.
Remember, if you need help applying these strategies I offer a 20-minute online mini-session where I am happy to coach you through an issue you have around your eating for free. It ’s zero obligation just so you can get to experience the power of coaching first hand. Zero sales pressure and as always I promise you will get value.
Have a great week,
Hi, I'm Lydia Pattison.