Do you know why you eat?

Do you know why you eat?

Do you know why you eat?

Do you eat to lose weight?

Because you’re hungry?

For good nutrition?

Because it’s there and it tastes good?

To procrastinate?

All of the above?

March is National Nutrition Month and in a world of keto fanatics and carb-phobia, I appreciate grounded advice on reading nutritional labels, home food safety and being a menu-savvy diner.

But you probably know all the info, don’t you?

As Michael Pollan says in his eater’s manifesto, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Understand that and everything is simplified.

But, our relationship with food is more complex. Like my client who admitted “I eat for all the reasons.”  My clients want to eat to lose weight, which in theory should be simple. But their relationship with food complicates things.

Do you know why you eat?
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Consider what food means to you. If you want to lose weight, are you looking at food as a means to an end? (And what happens at that “end”?) Maybe you’re choosing foods to help lower cholesterol or blood sugar. Do you eat to nourish your body and provide energy for what lies ahead? Are there foods that trigger you? That you say you’re addicted to? (I used to say that about chocolate.) Is food comfort when you’re feeling anxious? A treat when you’ve had a hard day?

See what I mean? Complicated.

You know my philosophy: you can enjoy food and lose weight. Which requires a healthy relationship with food.

For me that means acknowledging that while vanilla butter cream frosting tastes freaking amazing, I choose not to eat it because I know how it makes me feel physically and how it only increases my desire for more. It also means I’ve learned that I can be hungry without having to eat immediately. I remember how often I employed the phrase “I’m starving,” which is comical, really. And not a good message for my mind to ruminate on.

If your weight loss is on-again-off-again, delve into your relationship with food. Ask yourself questions about why you eat and what food means to you. Take a look at your language around food (e.g., are there foods you say you LOVE?). What feelings come up for you around eating and meal choices? Write these things down so you can really see what this relationship looks like.

For instance, are thoughts about food and what to eat taking up more head space than you want? Are you more attached to certain foods than you realized? Do you have shame around food? Do you, too, eat for all the reasons?

Once you identify your thoughts and feelings around food you can begin to unpack them one by one. And decide which ones stay and which ones you want to retrain. And develop a relationship with food that includes enjoyment and weight loss. For good.

Need help to do the work? Let’s talk.

Overeating…the good, the bad, and the…

If I asked you if you overeat, how would you feel?



Would you think, “No, not me.”?

How you respond depends on your behavior and how you define overeating.

Let’s start by defining it. Overeating is simply eating more than the body needs. That can mean snacking during the day when not physically hungry. It can also mean eating more at one sitting than the body needs, which tends to result in feeling full.

So, what’s good about overeating? We love food. It tastes good. It provides comfort for some of us, distraction for others. It’s a go-to that can instantly change our feeling state and food is one of the few things we feel we can control in life.

Overeating is eating more than the body needs, whether snacking when not physically hungry, or eating too much at one sitting and feeling full. Read more here:
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

We know what’s bad. Sometimes unwanted weight gain. But even without weight gain, it can negatively impact our health. In his book In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan points out the research shows “Overeating promotes cell division, and promotes it most dramatically in cancer cells; cutting back on calories slows cell division. It also stifles the production of free radicals, curbs inflammation, and reduces the risk of most of the Western diseases.”

To be clear, he isn’t saying that overeating causes cancer or other diseases, rather that our risk can be reduced when we don’t overeat. That’s quite significant.

But there is a whole other layer for those who don’t want to be overeating.

The good is tempered by a food hangover. The “what did I do?!” kind of thoughts. The beating ourselves up because we “blew it.” The feeling of being out of control and out of integrity with ourselves.

Can you relate? You love food but wish you didn’t eat as much as you did? You want to stop overeating but every time you try to be “good,” your willpower eventually crashes and you’re back to old habits?

If so, try this. Write down all of your reasons for overeating. Why do you do it? But don’t beat yourself up. Just be honest about the “why.” Then, write down all the reasons you have for not overeating. Find as many as you can. Compare the lists. Which list do you like better?

You see, if you constantly straddle between overeating and not, you’re essentially stuck. Then you never feel good about your decision and don’t achieve the results you want.

If you decide to overeat, then do it and let go of judgment. Make sure you like your reasons.

If you decide the reasons against it outweigh those in favor, then commit to stop overeating. Identify the thoughts you need to think and the plans you need to put in place to keep in integrity with your decision. And, if you mess up, do a post-mortem. Why? What happened? And use that information to improve next time.

It really is that simple. Hard? Yes. But simple. And worth it.


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