With the current global health crisis, a lot of us are spending way more time at home, and in front of our pantries, than ever before. Everything that used to fill our day and stimulate us has been put on pause and we are left with a completely new reality.
Whether its boredom, spending more time at home, or simply being around temptation 24/7, I too have found myself overeating and using food to escape boredom, anxiety and all the emotions in between.
I have really thought about it though, and I don’t want the virus or any other challenge in my life to get me to stop showing up for myself. I always want to respect and take care of my mental and physical health- no matter what.
The past few days I have been working on my over eating and have found a few methods that have really worked to reverse the patterns of overeating.
First, before you are able to end your overeating, you must understand what defines an overeat and why it is happening.
I have talked about the hunger scale in a previous post, but I am going to review it again because it is a majorly useful tool for uncovering overeating.
To use the hunger scale, you want to start eating only when you are at a -2, or slightly hungry. Not ravenous, but you know it is time to eat and your body is signaling for food. And once you are satisfied, or at a +2 on the hunger scale, you stop eating. This means you never eat until you are full or feeling uncomfortable. You should feel light, but fully satiated, after eating to satisfied.
Anything outside of a -2 to +2 eating range would be considered overeating. If you are eating when you are not hungry, or eating until you are full and uncomfortable- you are over eating.
But why do we do this? It is uncomfortable, causes weight gain, makes us feel out of control, and overall creates a bunch of negative results in our lives.
All overeating is caused by an emotion or thought in your brain. You don’t want to feel anxious about the virus- eat. You are bored at home- eat. You need a break from your kids or family members- eat.
We eat as a way to turn off, or put a pause on, experiencing unpleasant emotions. It is a way to cope and escape uncertainty and discomfort. But on the back end you are sacrificing your health and your goals.
To start reversing the effects over eating has on your life, you will have to become your own internal life coach. Once you have practiced and understood the hunger scale, start looking at where, when and what you overeat.
You will see emotional patterns of eating that come up. Do you binge on candy when you are bored or graze all day when you have nothing to do? This is where your work can begin.
When you feel the urge to over eat creeping up, coach yourself out of it by asking yourself where you are at in the hunger scale. If it isn’t a -2 or lower, make an agreement with yourself that it is not time to eat. You will need to learn how to combat the sentences your brain throws up to get you to over eat. This will take time and practice- but it is worth it.
Instead, identify the emotion you are wanting to solve for by eating. This is where journaling or meditation can be extremely helpful. Once you have identified the emotion, you can begin to solve the real problem at hand.
If you are like me and the problem you are facing is boredom, here are a few ways to keep busy and out of the pantry.
Create a very intentional daily routines. I have included reading a chapter of a book and more extensive journaling as part of my morning routine to start off the day with direction and intention. I set daily goals every morning to guide my day and give myself purpose. You should still set goals every single day, even if you are just sitting at home.
When you feel an urge to overeat come up, decide on a new action to take. This could be drinking a glass of water, meditation, journaling, talking to a friend or family member, really anything that is positive and serves you. Overeating is a habitual response to negative emotion and with practice you can change that habit.
Create a queue of podcasts, shows or books to consume. This can be a time of waiting and worrying or a time of massive action and personal growth. There are so many amazing, free resources available to help us grow as people and now is the time to learn how to manage your mind and take control of your life.
Schedule your day and your meals to end mindless eating. Set up your day by writing down tasks or small actions to take and include meal times, self care time and work time. I also am a big believer in planning out what you are going to be eating the day before. Make as many decisions about your day ahead of time to you don’t waste time in confusion or get into a cycle of under performing. We all have used time as an excuse for why we can’t show up as our best, but now many of us have more time than we ever dreamed- so use it!
To really end overeating, you must be committed to self evaluation and doing the work on your emotions. There is no human emotion you are incapable of feeling, and truly allowing every emotion is the key to long term weight loss success.
Right now, a lot of the negative emotions coming up for us are stemmed from a lack of control. Many of the freedoms of everyday life are now off the table, but I want to offer that there is still so much in your life that you can control. You can control how you use your time, where you direct your energy and focus, how you show up for yourself and others- and what you put in your mouth!
This time at home is an amazing opportunity to do this emotional work on yourself and end overeating for life. Make this time a period of your life you look back on and thank yourself for. If you just keep looking internally and evaluating your own emotions, you can live the next few weeks- and the rest of your life- free from overeating.
Commit today that overeating is no longer something you tolerate in your life. You deserve to feel every emotion and process every thought. And the best news is, you have been given the gift of time to do this work on yourself, for yourself.
You will come out of this stronger, wiser and more connected to yourself and others. This time is your gift- so use it.