All too often, people engage in overeating and then beat themselves up. Let me ask you…..where does this get you? I would guarantee it doesn’t end anywhere positive! We are conditioned to lead with the stick when it comes to our behavior and punish ourselves when we believe we have been “bad”. This is dangerous business for overeating because instead of the intended result of stopping the pattern, it generally leads to eating more. People tend to feel guilt and shame for eating. If you didn’t steal the food, guilt has no place in your relationship with eating. If punishment truly worked, you would not have ended up in this situation time and time again. It is time for a new plan!
Next time you struggle with overeating, figure out what triggered it instead of spending the energy on things you cannot change. You cannot change what has already happened. Continuing to dwell on the overeating episode is wasted effort. Instead, put your energy into changing what happens next. Focus on what you can do to challenge the thoughts that led you to overeat in the first place. Although it seems like food makes you feel better, it is only temporary and generally leads to other negative emotions. Identify the need you were trying to get met by eating. Was it comfort? Distraction? Numbness? Often overeating is a sign of anger or shame turned inward. Figure out why you need to feel those things and come up with a plan on how to deal with it.
Next time you notice yourself reaching for food and you aren’t physically hungry, stop the overeating cycle before it begins. Figure out the need you are wanting to get met and why. Identify a plan of action to get your needs met in a more fulfilling way. Nurturing yourself will get you so much farther than shaming ever has! Your mind and your body will thank you for it!