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If your body is carrying more fat storage than you would like, then there are two most likely culprits. One, you aren’t eating enough good foods and two, you are overeating. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. 

Our human bodies evolved over the last 40,000 years, and we have only NOT been hunter/gatherers for the last 10,000 years. That means are bodies are designed to crave food, want as much as possible of it, and default to overeating instead of under-eating. Our bodies are programmed to keep us alive when food is scarce. 

Enter this millennia. We have soooooo much food available to us at all times, with our default programming telling us to eat as much as possible. Of course you will overeat unless we start putting in some habits to work around our default human programming. 

why do I overeatHabit #1:  Process Emotions instead of Brownies

Food is so comforting. Sometimes it can feel like the only joy available in a down moment. You just got a text from a friend that bothered you. You have a job interview tomorrow that you are nervous about. You had a fight with your spouse. 

It is easy to catch yourself in that moment, heading to the fridge, to get some food love. When you are in that space, you might even see what you are doing, be conscious that you are eating emotionally, and choose to do it anyway. 

I don’t want to stop you. 

We are never going to tell ourselves that eating is bad for ANY reason. That just anchors in food shame, and makes emotional eating even harder to work around. 

Instead, we are going to put a good habit in front of it. You will tell yourself you absolutely CAN go to the fridge and emotionally eat, without guilt or shame, as long as you do the following things first: 

  1. Take 15 breaths in meditation. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing for 15 slow breaths. 
  2. Eat a fruit or veggie FIRST. 

If you still want to emotionally eat after doing these two steps, have at it. Without guilt. These will just slow you down, and start inserting good habits into your emotional processing.

how to not overeatHabit #2: Accept YOUR Natural Body Size 

Everyone wants to know the secret: how do I stop eating so damn much? It is tempting to look for tips to stop overeating, and  to think, “If I could just survive on water and no food, I would be a size 2!” I personally won’t ever be smaller than a size 6 (and usually am a size 8 and sometimes a size 10). If I were to drop to a size 4, it would mean I was either ill, or miserable. My natural body frame isn’t small-sized. I am a medium-sized girl. I naturally have a medium-sized body. Some people have naturally small-sized bodies. Some people have naturally bigger-sized bodies. When did this become something to fight against? 

I don’t know about you, but I also really enjoy food. It is one of the stuff of life that is AMAZING. Good food, a massage, drinks with friends, sitting in front of a fire, reading a good book, laughing with my kids, sex. These are the wonderful things that fill life with joy. 

Why would I ever want to take out enjoying food if it is one of my favorite things? 

If the promise of being a size 4 means that I wouldn’t be able to occasionally indulge in a really good bread pudding, or have a second serving of dinner when it is really, really, good, then I don’t ever want to be a size 4. And I don’t ever want to be a size 4.

I have heard the thought of “I would rather be happy than thin!” logic explain away really unhealthy mealtime habits. That isn’t what I am talking about. I am talking about the occasional indulgence  when the food is really, really good. Really, really good food won’t come along every day. It might not even come along every week. But when it comes along, I want you to indulge a bit. And have a second serving.

how to avoid overeatingHabit #3: Stop Starving Yourself before Dinner

There is another reason why you are tempted to overindulge in those cookies. You might be starving! Remember that whole human body you have? How it comes with 40,000 years of programming that keep you alive? One of those programmed functions that you really DON’T WANT TO override is your desire to stay alive. 

When you have had nothing for breakfast, and worked through lunch with nothing but a cup of coffee at work, and come home at 6 pm starving, your body will eat too much. End of story. 

You might even eat the equivalent of three dinners before your body decides it is no longer starving, and it has protected itself enough from the possibility of starvation. 

If you are getting enough food in throughout the day, let’s say a packaged lunch from yesterday’s dinner, you will not be famished at the end of the day and you will not be as prone to becoming overfull. Starving yourself through the day and getting all of your food in at dinnertime is a good way to train your body that you are starving. Let’s be good to ourselves!

 

How to Avoid Overeating without DietingHabit #4: What to do in Social Situations 

Eating is stress reducing. It just feels good. When people are in social situations, we eat more. The more people, the more we eat. Fascinating, huh? 

Think about your natural tendencies to eat a lot when you are in a social situation. Maybe you hover near the food buffet at parties, maybe you splurge and order an appetizer and a dessert when out with friends, maybe you eat way too many potato chips when you watch the game at your neighbor’s house. 

Whenever you have a BIG habit, like “stop stuffing my face in social situations,” it is too big to tackle all in one sitting. We are going to call these MACRO habits. Macro habits are impossible to take on in one sitting . . . it is trying to eat the whole elephant. 

Instead of taking on the elephant, we are going to break it down into tiny steps, and work on the easiest of the steps first. We are going to call these, you guessed it, micro habits. 

Macros & Micros of Not Overeating

Think about the MACRO habit of eating a lot of chips while watching a football game with friends. Here are some of the micro habits that may contribute to the MACRO habit: 

  • Bringing the bag of chips from the snack table to the couch
  • Keeping the bag of chips in your lap
  • Bringing chips to the game with you as your food contribution
  • Getting up at each break time and perusing the snack counter
  • Drinking a beer or two too many so you don’t pay attention to your food intake
  • Nervous energy in the game so you look for something to do with your hands

What is the easiest, most simple, least-resistant mini habit that you could start on? You don’t want to start on the hardest one to tackle. Habits are ALWAYS about starting with the easy. We are going to work WITH ourselves and not against ourselves!

What is the easiest, most simple, least-resistant mini habit that you could start on? You don’t want to start on the hardest one to tackle. Habits are ALWAYS about starting with the easy. We are going to work WITH ourselves and not against ourselves!

Choose the EASIEST mini habit to work on. In the chips at the football game example, I would choose bringing something healthier to snack on as the easiest step to tackle. In fact, if I just brought a whole tray of crudites instead of a bag of chips, that one micro habit may tackle the entire MACRO habit. Since it doesn’t matter how much veggies you eat, you could eat the entire tray of crudites and be doing good things for your body. 

Then you would choose the second easiest micro habit to work on. Maybe that would be giving your hands something to do. Maybe you could bring a fidget spinner or something to knit to the next football game, replacing your eating hand movements with moving them for another reason. 

By processing emotions, accepting your natural body size, not starving yourself, and having a strategy to avoid overeating in social situations, you will learn how to not overeat and no longer need to ask yourself: why do I overeat. Learn more about how to avoid overeating in our Eat Well program.

 

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