A faithful reader suggested I write about how to avoid eating everything in the entire house. Overeating is a big enough topic to fill a book, and as I’m not up to that this week I created some very good questions that might lead you to some answers for yourself. A little honest poking around in your head and your heart might help reduce the swell in your belly.
If you’re on the hunt for something good to eat, assuming you’re not physically hungry, you need to determine just why you want to eat. What’s the problem beneath the problem? You see, overeating is usually just a way of coping. It’s not the problem in and of itself. If you’re an overeater, have compassion for that part of your self as you explore this topic.
1. What are you telling yourself when you reach for food?
The answer to this question likely tells you what you really need. “I had a hard day,” might mean you need recognition, rest or reward. Try to get that need met and maybe the desire for a food reward disappears. “I can’t handle this,” probably means you need help of some kind. Who or what might that be?
2. What habit do you attach to eating?
A big source of overeating is the nighttime snacks while watching TV. Or maybe it’s eating and reading. It’s like coffee and cigarettes for some. What would you do if you didn’t watch TV? Alter one habit to affect the other.
3. What are you unhappy about?
Eating can be a source of happiness. Who doesn’t like to eat? Unfortunately the happy feeling is fleeting so you might keep looking for something better to eat (until you eat everything in the entire house) or you might move swiftly into feeling bad about what just happened.
Is there an action you need to take? What would make you happy on a more sustainable level? Look to something bigger or more important in your life. Your personal core values provide opportunity for meaningful, happiness-producing goals.
4. What are you avoiding feeling or doing?
Eating can be a substitute for feeling your feelings or for taking action. It’s okay to feel your feelings. Let them move through you. You’ll likely feel better. The fear of feeling is often worse than the actual feeling you’re resisting. (Working with a mental health professional can support you to feel safe feeling your feelings if you currently don’t.)
Are you avoiding doing something unpleasant or difficult? Without awareness, you might find yourself at the fridge door. Taking action, no matter where or how you start, always feels better than putting something off, then consequently putting something on – around your waist.
5. What is stressing you out?
Life is challenging. What isn’t working right now? Is it fixable? Is it partly fixable? Looking at the enormity of your problems, or looking into the future can create feelings of overwhelm. Try chunking things down into smaller problems that are more manageable. Stay present and focused on one thing at a time.
Implementing healthy coping strategies will support you also. Mind and body practices are highly effective. What works for you to feel calm and peaceful?
6. What are you tired of?
This might be about taking something away or adding something new. If you’re tolerating something, or someone, maybe you want to do something about that.
If you’re just feeling bored of the same old/same old try stepping out of your comfort zone a little and get interested in something. That’s bound to create some new energy that will take your focus off of food.
7. What is more important than overeating?
If you don’t have absolute clarity on why eating everything in the house is not a good idea, it’s pretty easy to continue doing it. Because you’re overweight isn’t usually a good enough reason. Why does being overweight matter? Keep breaking it down until you have a compelling reason to tame that hungry little monster inside you.
Let me know if this shook something loose for you, or if there’s something you’d like me to write about.