Overeating is a changeable pattern. It’ll take about 5 minutes…5 minutes of kind, curious reflection each time you’re not happy with how you’ve eaten.
Hang with me here. This is big.
Change starts with realizing something new. Realizations often come after we’ve stopped to think a bit. The new insights we gain influence new behavior, which brings more insight, which leads to more new behavior and on and on it goes. It’s a beautiful upward spiral.
Over time you rewire the software in your brain and the old patterns are over-ridden by the new ones.
To rewire our compulsive or habitual overeating, one of the most powerful things we can do is take a short timeout right after things haven’t gone the way we wish they had…
EVERY TIME* you overeat stop for a few minutes and:
1. Forgive yourself. No self-condemnation. No harsh judgment or shame. No “What in the world is wrong with me??!!” None of that. That just gums up the works, creates a downward spiral, and keeps you stuck.
2. Turn this overeating experience into something of great value to you. Instruct your mind to be quiet. Sit still a moment and become completely aware of your body. Be curious. Notice how you feel, and where. Focus on the sensations that feel uncomfortable.
3. Ask kind and helpful questions. Does my stomach feel bloated and heavy? Do my clothes feel tight? Do I feel tired and lethargic? How is my energy level? Do I like the way this feels? How would I like to feel next time? What could have changed this outcome? At what point might I have stopped eating that would’ve made this a good experience for me?
4. Connect the bad feelings with the overeating. Connection is powerful; it keeps us from being short-sighted.
We’re smart. We don’t touch hot stoves anymore. But dieting has blinded us – it’s caused the normal act of eating to become emotionally charged. When it comes to food we aren’t operating out of our usual innate wisdom. But we can. And we can feel vibrant, energized, and nourished after we eat. That’s not too much to ask.
Research shows that in most cases it takes about a year to rewire our thinking; maybe longer if our food struggle has been in place for decades. That’s certainly true of my story. The good news is, with a little help, we can create the change we want to see – 5 quiet minutes at a time.
*Of course I don’t mean literally EVERY TIME. Perfection isn’t necessary or possible but lasting change will take true consistency.