The concept of overeating can be a heavy one for most.
It’s a topic with a fair amount of stigma, fear, and shame around it.
This is because most will make their overeating patterns mean something negative about themselves.
And, it can be mind-numbing to not understand why they’re overeating in the first place.
In this episode, I’m excited to clear this up for you.
I’ll address why you’re eating too much right now.
And how you can begin moving past your overeating patterns in a healthy and intentional way.
Hello there. I am super happy you’re here. Today I’m going to talk to you all about what happens when you eat too much. So, I’m going to fill you in on what “eating too much” or overeating actually entails. We’ll talk about why you’re overeating, and what you can do to start navigating your overeating patterns for yourself. I find, when I think about my past self, and my clients now, that the concept of eating too much is a really heavy one. This is the area of eating that can make people feel they’ve hit rock bottom. When we overeat, or eat more than we planned, it can make us feel really incapable and distrustful of ourselves. Which is probably one of the worst things. When you don’t have trust in yourself when it comes to food, it creates a whole other host of issues. Without trust in yourself you’re not as accountable because of that lack of self-trust. Your confidence as a whole will go down. And you’ll likely keep re-creating the same overeating behaviors because of this lack of confidence and trust. So, with that, I know and understand how mind-numbing overeating patterns can feel. It can really make you feel like a victim of your body and eating habits. With my clients some of their lowest moments in the past were when they had an overeating episode. And this is because, first, they had no idea why it was happening and why they were eating that way. And second, they had no idea where to go from there. So, here, in today’s episode, I really want to put your mind at ease. And help you understand why it is that you may be overeating right now. And how you can begin evolving out of your overeating tendencies. So you can gain back that self trust and confidence when it comes to food.
Now, when we talk about overeating, we’re talking about the physical experience of having eaten too much. Or eating past the point when you would naturally feel full or satisfied. So, eating more than is serving you and your health. Pretty simple. Where it gets complicated for many is why overeating is actually occurring for them. So, there are two areas you’ll need to consider when looking at your overeating patterns. You’ll need to consider why your brain wants to overeat and why your body wants to overeat.
So, let’s start with your brain or your mind. Your mind will compel you to overeat based on a feeling, or emotion, that you experience. So, if you listened to the last episode we talked all about the connection between feelings and food. If you haven’t listened already be sure to go back and learn all about it. But, basically, everything you eat or don’t eat is in response to a feeling you’re experiencing. Every action you take with food is because of the way you feel. So, everything you eat is because you want to feel a certain way. Or because you want to avoid feeling a certain way. In the case of eating too much food, or overeating, you’re eating to feel better. So, you’re eating to feel that sense of comfort. And you’re also eating to avoid feeling a negative emotion. Maybe that’s stress, worry, anger – whatever that is. So, you’re suppressing a negative feeling that you don’t want to experience. In some cases overeating can even be an indication of a larger emotional void you’re experiencing in life. Such as loneliness, a lack of connection, a lack of fulfillment, and so on.
And from here, it’s also important to know that feelings, or emotions, are caused by thoughts in our brain. So, specific thought patterns cause your emotions, which will compel you to take certain actions with food. In the case of overeating, you’re having thought patterns that aren’t serving you. So, let’s say you got fired from your job. Which is an external circumstance that’s completely neutral. Your thoughts about this circumstance might be “this never should have happened”. Which leaves you feeling very stressed, frustrated, maybe a little betrayed. Well, in terms of food, these emotions created from your mind are going to compel you to overeat. So, you can escape those emotions that feel uncomfortable. This is how your brain will compel you to overeat in response to your emotions.
Now, on the other hand, let’s say the same circumstance happened. And you got fired from your job. Instead, you could choose to have thoughts like, “Wow. That’s such a bummer for them. I’m the best employee for the job. Somewhere else will be happy to hire me and value me for the skills I have.” Now, if you can truly believe these thoughts, they will produce entirely different emotions. Like confidence, self-trust, and commitment, right? From here, these emotions will compel you to eat in a totally different way. You won’t feel the same urge to cover up your emotions with food. So, you will feel less resistance when it comes to eating healthy in a way that serves you.
Now, let’s talk about the other side of this, which is why your body wants to overeat. Your mind wanted to overeat because of it’s unwillingness to experience negative emotions. Your body wants to overeat due to a lack of fuel or pleasure from food. And, this is the more physiological side of it. This is when overeating is literally a way for your body to communicate its needs to you. Which is pretty amazing. When you feel a desire to overeat from your body, this is it’s way of telling you that it’s not receiving the fuel or pleasure it needs from the eating experience. So, this could mean that you’re not providing it what it needs nutritionally. So maybe you’re not eating enough of a specific nutrient it needs and not eating a balanced diet. Or maybe, in many cases I see, you’re simply not eating enough consistently. So, perhaps you’ve been trying to restrict your food intake in the past, so now your body is compelling you to eat more to ensure survival. This is very common. With some of my clients I notice that they eat very quickly and sporadically. So, they’re not giving their body the time it needs to feel satisfied from the eating experience. The point is, your body has a number of different reasons as to why it wants you to overeat. Overeating can be a lack of so many things. Emotionally and physically from your body. But, there’s always a reason for your overeating patterns. And this is actually why I’m so passionate about this work and coaching women through this work. Because our eating habits and overeating patterns are highly individual to each person. And they will be very individual to you. The reason you have right now for why you eat the way you do, and why maybe you eat too much, is unique. Because you are unique. Which means that the approach you take to change your eating habits should be unique as well. I’m passionate about giving you guys these tools and coaching you, so you can figure out what works. Based on what works for you. Not by giving you a meal plan or diet that’s a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all method. But by helping you gain the awareness and responsibility over your own eating habits. So, in terms of overeating that’s what I want you to do.
I want you to get really curious and ask yourself why you’re overeating. Observe your eating habits and ask yourself why you eat too much at certain times. Is it because of a lack of fuel, not feeling satisfied from your meals, an unwillingness to experience a negative emotion, or because of a larger emotional void you’re experiencing? There are many reasons for why you eat the way you do. And you have everything you need right now to find those reasons for yourself.
For me, I had a number of reasons why I overate in the past. I didn’t have access to this work that I’m teaching you here, so it took me a long while before I figured out why it was happening. In the beginning, I really did feel like a victim of my eating habits. I thought that my inability to eat healthy was due to a lack of discipline. I believed that if I deserved the body I wanted that I should force myself to eat a certain way. And I thought that my overeating patterns were an indication that I wasn’t capable of eating healthy. That I was too lazy and unworthy of the eating habits I wanted. As years went on, I eventually started to change my approach.I started to actually pay attention to why I was eating the way I was. I got really curious and began observing my overeating patterns. When I did this I discovered so many things. I discovered that my history with dieting and restricting food caused my body to go into survival mode. So, that’s why I was overeating for years. I discovered that I needed to get better at feeling negative emotions, so I didn’t continue to suppress them with food. I discovered that I needed to slow down and appreciate my meals so I felt fully satisfied from them. Along with a number of other reasons. So, for me the answers for my overeating eventually became clear when I stopped looking for the answers outside of myself. And started simply paying attention.
Which is what I want you to do. I don’t want you to rush to fix your overeating patterns right now. That will not serve you. I want you to simply take notice of the times when you eat a bit too much. So, when you feel overly full or like eating that much food didn’t feel so good, I want you to simply take notice as to what was compelling you to eat more. And try your best not to judge yourself here.. You’re going to want to, if you’re anything like I was. But instead, I want you to be your own best friend and be very compassionate and understanding with yourself. So, something I like to do when I don’t eat as planned or when I overeat is ask myself, “What’s going on, love? Is there something you need right now?”. So, it’s just the simple act of checking in with yourself to see what’s really happening there. When you have this energy and practice being really nurturing to yourself, it’s so much easier to get the answers you’re looking for. So, for example, if you eat too much and are really hard on yourself, with thoughts like “I shouldn’t have eaten that much. What’s wrong with me?”, you’re going to create this energy of stress and frustration. Which does not put you in a place to be really observant and honest with yourself. Instead, when you eat too much and are compassionate with yourself, you’re better able to ask the good questions. Like, “what was it that I really needed that caused me to eat that way?”. Maybe you discover you need to practice feeling your negative emotion instead of covering it up with food. Maybe you realize that you went too long without fueling your body. Maybe you don’t know the reason yet so you need more evidence. But, the point is, that being kind to yourself brings you so far. And this is what will make you capable of figuring out what makes you tick.
So, to learn about your overeating I want you to notice any patterns. When do you most overeat? With whom do you most overeat with? What foods are you more likely to overeat? What circumstances most compel you to overeat? And, overall, what do you think most triggers your overeating tendencies?
Notice what consistencies cause you to eat more than you originally intended. Answering these questions will serve you so well. And know that overeating is always a symptom. It’s never, ever, ever the problem. This is so important. Our overeating patterns are always hints from our brain and body that more work needs to be done. And overeating is an opportunity to figure out what your body needs, so you can evolve. I say this so seriously. You don’t want to fix your overeating patterns. Because then you miss the opportunity to dive into the real work that needs to be done.
On top of this, we need to address the negativity that surrounds the concept of overeating. Because the shame and guilt people feel when it comes to overeating isn’t serving them. And it’s really important to know that the overeating is completely neutral. What makes it negative, toxic, or shameful is simply your thoughts about it. That’s it. And when you make the concept of overeating negative, you add suffering to it. Which makes you unable to objectively solve your overeating tendencies. So, I like to say math before drama. Which very much applies here. Focus on the math. And leave the drama out of it. Overeating is neutral. What makes it negative is your thoughts about it.
Also, did you know that overeating is completely natural for your body? It’s natural! If your body is compelling you to overeat, that means it’s working. Which is great news. Overeating is not the enemy. The need to overeat is a survival mechanism that your body has so it can keep you alive. It’s literally your body communicating it’s needs to you in the best way it knows how. So, in this way your body compelling you to overeat is your body taking really good care of you. If you feel called to overeat in times of stress or when you’re not fueling yourself properly, your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. Which is keeping you alive. So, it’s pretty useful to say the least. I encourage my clients to always look at it this way. Because so many women that I work with in the beginning just really want to fix their overeating very quickly. And I’m like, “Hold on a minute. If you fix your overeating tendencies you’ll be dead”. It’s a survival response from your body that is necessary. The goal I want you to have is to learn to manage your overeating tendencies. In a way where you’re able to intentionally eat the foods that bring you the results with your body that you want.
So, on top of being really curious about why you’re overeating, I want you to change your relationship with the concept of overeating. Practice different thoughts about it. Remove the stigma, fear, and shame from overeating patterns. Know that if you find yourself overeating, it doesn’t mean you have a willpower problem. Or that you’re incapable of eating healthy long-term. It just means there’s some digging to do. To figure out what makes you tick in terms of your eating habits. And I can tell you right now, if you can be really kind and curious with yourself as to why you’re overeating, you’ll develop a closeness and respect for your body that you didn’t have before. Understanding why you eat the way you do will bring you so much clarity in areas of your life that you never even considered.
Alright, I hope this was helpful. Thank you for being here. And I’ll talk with you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.