Breaking the cycle isn’t easy, but some of the following information may be helpful.
Consider this beautiful quote:
“Maybe the reason nothing seems to be ‘fixing you’ is because you’re not broken… You have a unique beauty and purpose; live accordingly.” ~Steve Maraboli~
Have you ever seen someone eat 4 sandwiches stuffed with meat, cheese, more meat and more cheese? Or eat 8 greasy donuts? I would bet that’s someone caught in the spiral of depression and overeating.
I once treated a patient who ate when she was depressed. It started when she was a kid.
She’d eat until she was so full that the only thing she could manage afterward was to sleep. She called food “Valium with added fiber.”
Her family was from the hearty midwest, so her unhealthy habit came from the messages to “clean your plate” and she felt she always had to eat until all the food was gone.
Sometimes she made herself throw up because she felt so panicked about how much she’d just eaten. Yet, she never got professional help. Her only emotional release was to joke about it to friends.
Naturally, their response was “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about it. You’re so slim!”
She tried counting calories, unsuccessfully planned to eat only one or two helpings at any meal…this went on for years. It was her “normal.”
It reached her all-time low her final year in college. She started binging and then sleeping it off during the day instead of attending class or studying for exams. And she was miserable.
Thankfully, help came her way from an inexpensive little book she read about in a magazine which promised to help her “change from within.”
It clicked for her…she followed the program, wrote in her journal every day, focusing on her beliefs about her body and its relationship with food, and found professional help.
And, she started to visualize a different future—one with space for other interests aside from her food and her figure. Focusing on that is how you break the cycle of depression and overeating.
➡ When she tackled the overeating, her depression lifted…and all the while she’d figured it was just a side issue. In short, the mind shift changed everything for her.
➡ She became more assertive, more forgiving towards others (by her own admission).
So, if you’re struggling with food yourself, here are 7 mind shifts to give you a new perspective.
1. Tell yourself you’re not broken.
It’s easy to feel ashamed for having a problem when everyone around you makes eating look easy. It feels like there must be something wrong with you.
When we’re in a fix, it’s perfectly natural to reach for something. At some point in the past, food was the best solution you could come up with.
That’s OK. Hear that? It’s OK.
➡ Just because overeating doesn’t serve you now, doesn’t mean you were stupid or wrong for taking that approach then.
➡ Your eating may look crazy today, but it’s your subconscious waving a red flag, telling you something’s up on a deeper level. Your inner wisdom is alive and you are not “broken.”
2. Ditch The Guilt And Skip The Self-Punishment
➡ Don’t hate yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that if you eat more, make yourself sick doing it, you’ll teach yourself such a big lesson that you won’t do it again.
If you do that, you’ll be setting yourself up, you’ll eat until you’re sick, and the self-hate will continue to grow.
➡ You are not a criminal.
➡ You deserve to be and feel normal, by your definition, not the worlds.
➡ There’s nothing morally wrong with overeating. You’re not bad.
➡ You’re allowed to make mistakes.
Let go of the idea that if you don’t feel guilty, you’ll never learn.The opposite is true.
When you stop feeling guilty, you can continue your journey, praise yourself for caring, come up with new creative ways to keep moving forward and get to know yourself better.
3. Stop Making Hard-Fast Rules For Yourself
Do you have a lot of ideas about what you should and shouldn’t eat?
➡ Do not restrict yourself like a dieter.
- It’s an honest mistake to try to get ‘good at’ eating by following rules and plans.
It’s not that sticking to plans is bad—it’s great for getting things done, budgeting for a holiday, and not randomly adding ingredients to a cake recipe.
But, when it comes to your body and emotions, you need a more intuitive approach.
➡ Rules and restrictions invite to your inner rebel to do what it does, rebel.
Failure is a killer because you can’t build progress if you think you’ve already failed. Just stop!
➡ Do not give yourself a hard time. It drains your energy and morale. Just start over.
- Give yourself permission
- Cook a meal from scratch
- Pick foods that give you energy
4. SLOW DOWN and enjoy your food…If you’re not enjoying your meals, the problem could be that you’re eating too fast for your brain to register satisfaction.
As an overeater, my patient thought about food all day. But while she was actually eating, she would completely zone out.
Learning to eat slowly and concentrate on the experience of the meal made it easier to switch off her thoughts about food between meals.
It also redirected all the worry about what she was eating, into a more relaxing focus on how she was eating.
Plus, when she slowed down, everything tasted better.
➡ The more you enjoy the eating experience, the more your cravings will settle down.
One day, you’ll notice that you’re full. You’ll feel satisfied, but not stuffed.
➡ You’ll be blown away when you realize that anything you leave on your plate is just leftovers…It has NO power over you.
5. Move Your Body.
It’s NOT about counting steps, counting repetitions or competing with anyone. That only serves to cloud your feelings, as if you’ll never measure up.
➡ Don’t rely on the number of calories you’re burning for your “good feelings.”
➡ No amount of time you spend moving your body is pointless. Each time you do it you’ll like your body a little bit more. That’s called “embodiment” and very few things feel any better.
➡ Each time you move your body, even a little bit more, you’ll feel refreshed.
➡ You’ll stop judging your body from the outside, you’ll be feeling good from the inside.
➡ You’ll start to have fun. You may even invite a friend or more to join you and add to your enjoyment.
You can move your body, even if you’re not good at it.
- You don’t need to be head to toe in lycra.
- You don’t have to think about calories or try to do a bit more each time.
The trick to enjoying moving your body is that It doesn’t have to look like exercise at all.
- It can look like messing around with a hula hoop
- Chasing pigeons
- Moving your arms and legs in a pool
- Doing a few stretches during commercials
When you embody, your self-criticism about your body calms down.
THAT helps the act of eating become natural and easy.
6. Let your desires lead you. You read that right. Let your desires lead you.
When you overeat you feel “possessed” by your urges.
➡ Any thought of food can make you crazy…you’ll start to think you’re possessed by evil forces and that eating to the point of self-disgust is the only way to shut them up.
Perhaps your body is just starved for carbs. Yep, CARBS.
“Lo-carb” is all the rage…”don’t buy bread, forget pasta…” Don’t fall into that trap.
There’s tons of information here about choices that will leave you feeling satisfied, provide good carbohydrates and satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Your appetite isn’t evil. Its job is to guide you to what your body needs.
When you understand this, you may even understand that your “other hungers” aren’t evil either…
➡ My patient didn’t allow herself to rest when she was tired. She’d party late into the night for fear of being seen as antisocial.
➡ She’d never ask for what she wanted in bed.
➡ It is not wrong to want: Whether it’s food, sex, space, sleep, success or money.
Your desires are what make you, you.
- When you enjoy what nobody loves quite as crazily as you, you’re living out your life purpose.
Creamy sharp cheddar was created by someone chosen by the universe. And then it needed someone to go nuts about it. That would be me!
7. Redirect your energy to where it counts in the world.
➡ When eating is an obsession, it takes over your day.
➡ All that brainpower spent on eating doesn’t leave much for things that matter to you. The things that make life fun.
By the end of college, my patient couldn’t see the point of studying literature anymore. She didn’t want to admit that her degree was a big, expensive, mistake. Hibernating under the covers was easier.
But she also didn’t dare own up to what she really wanted, which was to illustrate, write and perform. To communicate and belong and connect.
She was stuck in the rut of “First I’ll fix my eating and get a better body shape, and then I’ll go for it.”
Now, today, not later when we’re “perfect”?
Beneath your food challenge is another, bigger challenge: Doing what you care about.
It’s ongoing, but it’s worth it.
The more you stop worrying about your eating, the more energy you’ll have to throw at it.
Need help breaking the cycle of depression and overeating? Drop me a line using the “Get In Touch” Link at the top of the page. I am here to help you and there is never a fee.