Earlier this week I had a wonderful talk with a dear friend of mine about overeating. While I don’t wish the struggle on anyone and hated to hear how she’s feeling, it was helpful for both of us to talk through the struggle. Overeating has long been a hurdle for me, as I’ve struggled with overeating since I was a young girl. Though I don’t have any answers or solutions, I thought it might help others to read my deep thoughts surrounding overeating…
Why do we overeat?
Is it because we’re hungry? Is it because we’re bored? Is it because the food we’re eating provides us momentary gratification?
Each and every one of us who struggles with overeating has a different reason for why we overeat.
Answering this question is still really difficult for me because sometimes I just can’t put my finger on the why. It’s fairly easy for me to recognize when I’m eating because I’m bored or emotional, but it’s the mindless eating that’s toughest for me to understand.
I am no expert, nor have I fully conquered my own unhealthy habits, but I do believe that one must deal with the root of why they overeat in order to truly overcome their battle with weight loss. While a diet may help one to lose unwanted weight, a diet doesn’t necessarily resolve or deal with the unhealthy habits at one’s core. I believe that in order to lose weight, and to maintain that weight loss, one must deal with the why, which from my experience is the hardest part!
For me, I know that I overeat because it makes me happy in the moment. Whether I’m having a bad day, stressed, or bored, food makes me feel better in the moment. Whether I’m grabbing a spoonful of peanut butter because I’m bored, eating tortilla chips out of the bag because I’m being lazy, or eating dinner even though I’m not hungry, the root of each decision is almost always that I’m looking to numb another emotion that is going on in that moment or day.
There are a number of things I can do to avoid overeating, but I think there’s a lot to be said about dealing with the emotion behind the decision to overeat, not just the habit itself. Yes there is a lot to be said about not eating standing up, never eating out of a bag or container, and planning out your meals, but the desire to mask an emotion with food is far deeper than the overeating habits themselves.
How best to work on these struggles is hard to say, but I think there’s a lot to be said about having a community you can turn to for support or having a friend you can talk to. I do think counseling can be really impactful, but it isn’t always an affordable option. I personally learned so much from meeting with a nutrition counselor back in 2013 but I just couldn’t afford to meet with her long-term. As most nutrition counselors don’t accept insurance, paying $200+ per session just wasn’t something I could commit to long-term. What I can do is to stay open and honest with my husband if I’m struggling with overeating, to talk to my friends about what’s going on in my life, and to stay focused on my long-term goals vs my momentary desires. It’s easy to talk about figuratively, but I know how hard the struggle is in the moment!!
Ultimately, overeating sabotages our weight loss efforts. We get caught in a vicious cycle of Dieting –> Overeating –> Getting discouraged –> Overeating to mask emotions –> Dieting
I truly believe that men and woman can conquer their battle with overeating and over time reach a place where food no longer controls their future. I’m also so encouraged to read about other’s success stories and to see the joy that comes with dealing with the why. It is a difficult road to venture down, but being able to end the vicious cycle is well worth the journey!