The single biggest question people bring to coaching is some version of ...
Why can't I stop emotional eating?
Which is followed by some version of ...Why do I feel so out of control around food?
Trust me, I get it. It just doesn't make any sense. We are all intelligent, resourceful people who are able to get things done in so many different areas of our lives but when it comes to food we can feel powerless.
It was the same for me. For years it seemed like the harder I tried to stop stress eating at night, the worse my emotional eating got.
The only thing that seemed to work was to not focus on it too much which meant that it didn't get worse, but I would still struggle.
Since I've become a coach I've found there are a few reasons why emotional eating can feel out of our control, especially when we try to stop.
One of the reasons it's so hard (and there are a few) is a weird bias in your brain called IMP.
IMP by name, imp by nature - turns out IMP it works like an imp in your brain literally backfiring any attempts you make to resist thinking about something. It stands for Ironic Monitoring Process, which sounds like meaningless technical jargon, but in fact explains why when someone says "Don't think about a pink elephant" .. wait... you've already pictured one, right? You rebel.
The reason you do this is that you have to think about what you're avoiding in order to avoid it. Makes sense, right? The problem is the more you try to suppress urges the more you wire them in. So, the more you try to suppress urges, the stronger they get.
So, how do we actually avoid doing or thinking about something without making it worse?
Very good question. The answer is simple. We allow it to be there, but without reacting to it in any way.
The tricky part is that we have to learn to allow it to be there without ...
You can use some questions to allow the urge to overeat to be present without trying to change or avoid it.
-What does the urge feel like in your body?
-Where is it located?
-When does it show up ... and when does it stop?
-How does it change with time?
You'll be surprised to find that urges to eat will pass given time and that they aren't as urgent as you might have thought. And if you allow 50- 100 urges without responding you'll find the urges lessen.
Have a great week!
Want to talk? If you are finally ready to stop the food obsession and walk away from food that doesn’t serve you and finally, have your mental space back…then we can make that happen with a step by step plan, today!
Book a call and let’s talk.
We’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes and we’ll a deep dive into your relationship with food. We’ll get clear on:
Hi, I'm Lydia Pattison.