Hello friends! Welcome back to part 2 of “how to overcome emotional eating”!
Today I’m going to give you a few more practical tips for healthy eating and living, by helping you to overcome the unhealthy habits that lead to overeating based on your feelings. It’s time to take back the control over your habits.
Now, when I talk about emotional eating, stress eating, and binge eating, it’s a bit different from an eating disorder like compulsive binge eating. With a disorder such as this, people will have consistent episodes of major overeating without even realizing what they’re doing … kind of like being on autopilot.
So, with compulsive binge eating, there is a disassociation with food in those moments and it can be really difficult to break that cycle without the help of a disordered eating specialist. So, to preface this post, if you believe you have a major eating disorder, please DM me on Instagram or send me a chat on my website so I can help you find a specialist in this field. This specific episode is more for those of us who occasionally use eating as a tool to immediately cover up feelings of stress or sadness to make ourselves feel better. That’s normal for most people because eating relaxes us, gives us the dopamine and serotonin kick, helps get our digestion going because we’re calm… we see immediate benefits when we eat.
The problem comes when that addiction pathway kicks in and we solely rely on food to cope. In actuality, a binge eating disorder and emotional eating are along the same continuum and they’re not completely separate entities. A disorder happens when we have no other coping methods, we aren’t aware of how much we’re eating, and the frequency of eating to cope is really high. At that point, it’s gotten a little more serious than just emotional eating. When we lose touch with knowing those things, it’s moving into a binge eating disorder.
So again, if you think you’ve kind of crossed that threshold into a disorder, I recommend you visit a professional who specializes in this area. And if you’re just not sure if you have, there are criteria in the diagnostic manual that therapists use and the main criteria is eating a large amount of food in a short period of time while feeling a lack of control, followed by intense shame after the episode. If you’re not sure, shoot me a message and let’s chat. I’d be happy to help you find a specialist.
Now, for those of you that just kind of slack off on healthy eating habits and find yourself eating a doughnut to feel better more than you’d like, know that it’s very normal to do that. We’ve all done it, but there are ways to combat this habit and if you haven’t read the first part of this topic, go back to the last blog post and read part 1 because I give some helpful tools and a free resource for you in that episode.
Today, I’m going to talk a bit about weekend overeating which tends to happen to a lot of us because we’re like “oh, I’ve worked hard all week, I’ve eaten pretty well most of the week, I’m stressed, and I need to take this weekend to relax and take it easy.” But what tends to happen when you have this mindset almost every weekend, is that your structure for yourself falls apart. I’m not about restrictive eating but I AM about structure. Humans need structure or else we’ll go crazy and do things that are really bad for our health. So, if you’re overeating because you want to enjoy your weekend and cover up the stress that you’ve been feeling, that’s emotional eating. If you overeat every weekend because you’re hanging out with your social crowd and you’re feeling happy and carefree, that’s also emotional eating! Overeating can come with any emotion. It doesn’t always have to be sadness or stress.
So, when you start thinking this way about your weekends, Saturday and Sunday soon include Fridays because, hey.. that’s kinda the weekend.
Then you start saying “well, I might as well include Thursdays because it’s super close to the weekend and it’s been a rough week”.
So, you see, the weekend pattern of overeating usually bleeds into the rest of the week. And even if you do just keep it to Saturday and Sunday and you overeat every weekend, you likely feel regretful, bloated, maybe a little gross, and mentally foggy.
The truth is that it’s ok to let go every once in a while, but when it becomes a weekly thing, then yea, you’re goals will be hindered if you’re trying to lose or even maintain weight. The other truth is that you likely hate the way you feel after the weekend because you have inflammation from the sodium-filled junk you ate, you feel like you have a food baby, you then feel too tired or groggy to exercise and get any type of movement in during the day… so you feel like it’s not worth it until the next weekend when you smell the goodness of those fatty and carb loaded foods. So, you keep overeating and consuming the less healthy types of food. It’s difficult to break that cycle. I was stuck in it for a long time. I would complain about the way I looked and felt, but as soon as my husband asked where I wanted to go eat, I was all about it, once again.
So, I’m going to tell you how I got over that cycle and give you some ideas about how you can too!
-Incorporate foods you love throughout the week – Stop it with that all or nothing thinking-
…this way you’re not feeling so deprived through the week and then feel as if you have to eat all the things in those two short days of the weekend. We don’t even necessarily need to make it about just the weekend. Think about how many times you restricted food from yourself for breakfast and lunch and then felt like you deserved to overeat at dinner. If your meal plan is so restrictive that you feel deprived, it’s way more likely that you’re going to feel like you “deserve” the tastier, unhealthier types of foods over the weekend or at night. We’ve got to stop thinking we do or don’t deserve food. That’s the perfect mindset for arriving at a binge eating disorder. Just a side note there.
We tend to overeat on weekends or at night because our motivation and willpower fade throughout the week or the day and we’re looking for that moment we can let go and let loose.
Another common misconception in our thinking is that when you do go out on the weekends, you think “welp, I can’t bring my portioned dinner with me so I might as well go all out and eat an entire pizza” instead of saying “well I can have a Caesar salad and a slice or two of pizza.”
Again, it’s fine to go all out every once in a while, but when that becomes your habitual thinking, you’re just sabotaging yourself. So, it’s important to understand that we don’t have to be perfect throughout the week and we don’t have to completely let loose on the weekend. We can find that happy medium where we have some treats throughout the week, so we don’t feel like we have to binge before we completely restrict again through the week. I hope you’re having a little lightbulb go off in your head right now. This kind ofthinking is what leads to that restrict and binge cycle that is so difficult to break.
So, girl… you don’t need to be perfect through the week. Because an imperfect but decent meal plan that you can stick to is way more effective than the perfect meal plan that you break away from every week. We need structure AND flexibility to overcome emotional eating. So again, incorporate some of those foods you really enjoy intermittently through your week, so you are not tempted to feel like you deserve to eat 5000 calories on Saturday!
-Limit buying the foods you know you tend to overeat-
Seems simple enough right? But this is one of the ways we sabotage ourselves without knowing it.
There are certain foods that I know if I buy them on a regular basis, I’m going to overeat. So, I don’t even buy them because I know this about myself. So, I’ve told ya’ll before my favorite food is chips and salsa, and I do keep those in my house so I can treat myself intermittently… but I can control binge eating those.
However, if I bought the fried tortilla chips along with queso, it would be over for me. I would eat probably the whole bag of chips and the whole container of queso. I know myself. That would be really hard for me to put down and not overeat. But the baked chips with some salsa I can handle. It’s the same with ice cream. I keep Enlightened ice cream in the freezer for the week which is a lower calorie high protein ice cream. I enjoy a little every night. However, if I bought Pet or Breyers quart size ice cream, it would be hard for me to stop at a cup of ice cream. I’d likely eat half the tub. So, I am intentional about not buying food items that I know I have very little self-control with. Because in my stressful moments when I’m walking in the kitchen looking for something to help me cope, I’d likely go to those better tasting foods and then lose all control with them.
So, I want you to think about those foods for yourself. Is it oreos, doritos, pizza rolls? (I think that’s my husband’s biggest weakness). Whatever it is, avoid buying them. If you can avoid the temptation to overeat, that’s what you should do. Some things we can’t necessarily avoid, but in your own home you can have some control. So, limit those foods that you buy and know you cannot control yourself around. Great practical tip here!
-Select a Person to Hold you accountable-
We humans need accountability whether it’s a close friend that we trust to tell us the hard truth, your spouse, a personal trainer at your gym, or a coach. Trying to overcome your eating habits alone can be a lonely place, but when you link arms with like-minded people it becomes a lot more attainable and sustainable. When you do that, you see that it’s not impossible, balanced eating and eating according to your goals versus your emotions is possible and beneficial.
This is going to require some integrity on your part in being truthful about what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Your friend, spouse, trainer, or coach can hold you accountable and see you through to your weight loss goal only if you’re being completely honest.
The key here is to choose someone who will 100% not judge you for your choices. They’ve got to be compassionate, empathetic, and genuinely want to help you. Otherwise, you’re only going to feel guilt and shame which only perpetuates the overeating and emotional bingeing. Don’t skip out on joining people that support you and your desires. There’s plenty of support groups as well. Look up overeaters anonymous.
Whatever avenue you decide, make sure you’re checking in with them weekly and being honest with them and open to receiving their help and the hard truth that they may bring to the table. It’s what you need, don’t reject it. Learn from it.
Which leads to me to one last thing I want to say. Learn from your setbacks.
I said this in the last blog post, but it’s ok if you overeat. In fact, I asked that you give yourself permission to overeat for now so you can learn from these episodes of overeating. This is really the only way you can start gaining control and that is to start collecting data as you fail. The only way we win at anything is to first fail and then learn from our mistakes. So, again, awareness is where it starts. We can’t fix what we’re not aware of. And just to reiterate, we’re not fixing you, we’re changing the habits. And you can’t change unhealthy habits that you aren’t aware of.
Start focusing on your positive changes, your wins. Celebrate them however you can that doesn’t always involve food. Learn from the times that you DO overeat and then create actions to avoid those situations in the future.
And ladies, if you try all of these strategies, and I mean literally give time and effort to it, but you’re still struggling, I really want you to consider therapy with a mental health professional. There is no shame in it whatsoever. Sometimes, self-help can only go so far.
Lastly, if you are thinking that you can do this, but you want some extra accountability, I’d love to chat with you about coaching. I’m opening my schedule for consultation calls this week, so feel free to hop on over to Bridges2barbells.com/plans and schedule your call there. I’d love to hear your story, your struggles, and your unique strengths so I can help you use them for your benefit. So, we can chat and see if coaching is a good option for you to start this new journey of overcoming emotional overeating.
Alright guys, I hope this encourages you to start strategizing and implementing what you’ve learned today so you can start making better decisions today that put the power back in your hands. If you felt like this post benefited you in any way, please leave me a review and share this blog post on your social media (tag me @bridges2barbells)
Thank you all for being here!