Over-eating and binge eating, especially on sweet and starchy foods, is a very common pattern in our society. Did you know that sugar is 10x as addictive as cocaine?! Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and wheat are super addictive and are intentionally added to processed foods by food developers and manufacturers to make people crave them and eat more! However that doesn’t mean we can abandon all self responsibility for dealing with our personal over-eating problem. Giving up sugar and starches is rather like giving up alcohol. If you think about what creates an alcohol problem you can’t blame it solely on the bottle of alcohol. Having an alcohol problem is always a combination of the person (their genetics and life problems), the alcohol itself which is the ‘drug’ taken to reduce stress/distract us from our problems and the environment we live in (whether other people are drinking around us, the availability of alcohol, and the stressors in our work, social and home lives).
It really isn’t any different for foods like sugar, wheat and preservatives. People use sweet carb-filled foods like they use alcohol or any other drug – as an escape and/or distraction for the problems, stress and deficiencies in their life. Take a look at the “Wheel of Life” below which is a tool I use with my clients.
In which areas of life are you fulfilled and in which areas are you unfulfilled? Place a dot on each spoke of the wheel to indicate in which areas you feel very fulfilled and in which areas you are quite unfulfilled, with a dot close to the outer circle denoting a greater degree of fulfillment than a dot placed towards the center of the wheel.
Take a look at the areas of imbalance in your life. What actions can you begin taking to improve your fulfillment in these areas? Perhaps a counselor, life or health coach can help you begin to open up your wheel of life.
In order to succeed at losing weight and making eating healthfully a lifestyle choice, you must first examine what’s going on in the different spheres of your life. By working directly to improve the areas of life where you feel unfulfilled you will find it easier to lose weight. Once you are in a good place, feel positive about yourself and what’s happening in your life you’ll have more mental, physical and emotional energy and will no longer need the ‘prop’ that over eating provides. Feeling more fulfilled provides you with positive energy to work on your goal of losing weight and you will be far more likely to succeed when you are at peace with your life.
Many people think that losing weight will make them feel happier. However, even if they manage to lose weight, they are still unhappy with their lives and the pounds usually return because they return to using food as a substitute for what’s missing in their lives. Sound familiar?
Its something to seriously consider before you set out to lose weight. Trying to lose weight in a stressful environment can set you up for repeated failure. However, having a stressful life is not an excuse to never work on improving your health and aiming to lose weight. Take some time and think about how you feel about your life, identify your personal eating triggers and decide how you will replace the negative habit of over-eating with a positive action that will move you towards your goal. You will need to work on breaking your old destructive habit of over-eating and binge eating in response to stress and replace it with a new habit. For example, when you find yourself walking towards the fridge and you know you’re not truly hungry, break the pattern by taking a 15 minute walk and visualize yourself as the slim person you’re going to be. Congratulate yourself for overcoming your habit!
Developing new habits takes time so please be patient with yourself. Your brain actually has to form new neural networks and bypass/delete the old networks which led you to over-eat. As with any habit, the more you practice it, the easier and more automatic it becomes. Train yourself to leave the bread on your restaurant table untouched by sipping water instead. Rinse and repeat! Soon you won’t even consider reaching for the bread!
An experienced wellness coach can gently guide you to overcome your over-eating and binging habits and make sure that you reach your goals. They’ll work alongside you and climb that mountain with you and provide you with the support you need to reach and maintain your goal.