It’s not a nice feeling. And it’s not a new one either. It happens that moment when you realize you just overate. Again.
And you can’t help but wonder, “Will I ever stop eating too much?”
That’s the question we all want to know the answer to. Is there a simple, straight-forward, easy answer to fix all of our overeating problems?
We know that’s pretty unlikely.
The reasons you eat too much are as unique as the intersection of your favorite movie and how you take your coffee. You’re not alone but…you also don’t fit perfectly into a mold.
Well, the good news is there is a solution. But because of this uniqueness, it isn’t a one-part solution. And, it’s going to require some work. (Acknowledging this means you’ll be more patient with yourself and less likely to throw in the towel.)
In order to stop overeating, there are four main areas of our lives where we’ll want to be more mindful.
Yep, we all have spots and places that need to be mended or healed. But all of us have different needs and different skills to manage.
Eventually, things will get better and you’ll be moving in a positive direction:
- You’ll realize that you need a combination of things to keep going forward.
- You’ll learn how to connect more to your body’s true physical needs.
- Then, you can start eating within the context of hunger and fullness.
- Food will finally take its rightful place in your life.
Eating Too Much + Physical Signals
When we think about overeating, the “physical” is usually what we’re referring to.
So when we talk about the physical realm of overeating, we’re talking about ignoring things like hunger and fullness.
One way to moderate the amount of food you eat is with body cues, like paying attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
You probably already know this. But it’s not so easy to do. If you’ve been on more than one diet, you’ve probably altered your perception of hunger and fullness. You might not know what true hunger or true fullness is.
We tend to go to the extreme ends of the spectrum– where hunger is being tempted to gnaw on wood chips and fullness is being so stuffed we need to unbutton our pants. That’s not true hunger and fullness.
True hunger and fullness are actually quite pleasant. And you’ll find that when you’re really paying attention, it’s not all that hard to discern them.
Ready to reconnect with your body’s signals?
Start with one or the other– hunger or fullness.
Although they’re basically one function, they’re the ends of the same teeter-totter. And, it’ll be much easier to focus on just one. As you work on the first, the other will naturally become a little bit easier.
Another thing that affects our eating in the physical realm is our food choices. Foods that are highly processed are extremely palatable.
Highly-paid scientists engineer these foods to trigger our brains where the sugar, fat, and salt all come together just right. Suddenly our brains are firing like the Fourth of July. This is called the “bliss point.”
It’s no wonder that when you eat that particular food, “one” never feels like enough. That’s because a big food company paid a lot of money to create that reaction in your brain.
It doesn’t mean we need to swear off those kinds of food forever. But this knowledge helps us put them in context, so they’re a part of your diet and not the central base of your plate.
This alone will make it much easier to make moderate food choices.
What does this mean in real life?
It means filling your plate at least 50% with whole, nourishing foods. This includes fats, carbohydrates in the forms of starches and vegetables, proteins, and fiber-rich foods.
When you do this, the foods that are more palatable won’t have quite as much impact on your brain and your blood sugar levels. As you practice this, you can start to reduce the number of processed foods you consume, and it will become so much easier to moderate your meals.
Eating Too Much + Your Mind
The battlefield of the mind plays a huge part in the overeating process. It’s in our minds that we justify eating more than our bodies actually need.
There are two parts to the mental battle– First is the preventative and second is what happens in the heat of the moment.
PREVENTION + EATING TOO MUCH
Prevention is the easier part. When we’re in prevention mode, it’s not as intense and our emotions aren’t quite as involved.
Your thinking is rational and the direction of the Lord is clear:
- You know that you want to be modest when you’re faced with an overeating opportunity.
- You don’t want to eat too much.
- You want food to nourish you and not become an idol in your life.
The Word of God is active, alive, living. That’s why you can wash your mind in the truth of His Word. The way you think will change.
“Preparing” is a proactive way to win the mental battle. It’s a way to make a back-up plan for when things don’t turn out as you expected.
It will also help you let go of the all-or-nothing thinking. (“I already ate one, I might as well throw in the towel. I’ll just eat it all and start fresh tomorrow.”)
All-or-nothing eating will set you up for a loss and we’re going for a W-I-N. A win could be stopping mid-bite, mid-binge or mid-battle. It ALL counts. It’s going fresh and committing to the Lord.
DAMAGE CONTROL + EATING TOO MUCH
When you’re in the heat of the moment, deeply entrenched in your cravings and negative self-talk, it can feel harder to steer your ship away from the fridge.
Truth is, it is harder.
But, praise God, it’s not impossible.
You see, the enemy wants us to think that even a shadow of failure makes us too tarnished to go to God. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
God wants us to sprint to Him even when we’re covered in mud (or brownie batter!), just like the prodigal son.
He wants us to set aside our slips and turn to Him at any point…
Even if you only throw away one binge-y bite in His name, it is a seed of self-control.
Damage control isn’t done on the treadmill or in diet penance– but in seeking the Lord and allowing the realization of your human frailty to cause you to praise.
Eating Too Much + Emotional Eating
Ah, our emotions. They are a huge factor when we get off track in our eating.
There’s so much involved. Stress. Going to food for comfort. Dealing with negative self-talk. Needing a break from life.
All of these are ways food comes in emotionally in our lives. The best way to stop is, again, prevention. Give yourself what you actually need.
Think back to the last time you ate more than you wanted to. Now try to remember about three hours earlier. What was your mental state?
Were you exhausted, tired? Had you come to the end of your willpower rope?
Had you been managing kids, jobs, carpools, and household work, and your brain was just done?
Or maybe you had a difficult conversation with a dear friend. You were hurt and took something personally.
Or maybe it happened later. Backtrack to what happened before you overate to see if you can figure out what led to eating more than you wanted.
Were there any emotional needs that had to be met?
- Comfort eating? Did you need some comfort? Or a reminder that the Holy Spirit is the comforter?
- Rocky relationship? Did you need to find your peace and security in Christ? Or make amends?
- Stress eating? Maybe you need to just step aside from all the chaos.
So often, we’re busy, busy, busy. By the time we get to the point where we are emotionally exhausted, it feels too late.
It’s never too late. There is no temptation that has overtaken us but that is such as common to man. It’s just a lot easier to meet those emotional needs ahead of time.
When you’re in the moment and you’re faced with an emotional trigger, set the timer for three minutes. Use this little block of time as an experiment.
Put yourself in an observation room. Step outside of yourself and see what is going on at the moment.
What do you actually need?
What are you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally? Be a detective and really dig in. Remind yourself that you can still eat if you want to.
The goal of this exercise is not to “not eat.” The goal is to learn a little bit more about yourself and how you’re wired. To see how you’ve learned to rely on food to meet your emotional needs.
Jot it down. Take notes. Begin to tally information about how you need to be ministered to in a way that doesn’t involve food.
If you see that you’re constantly going to food for stress relief, then focus on finding stress relief in the Lord.
Maybe you find a great Christian book that helps you manage those worries. Try to meet the emotional needs ahead of time. But sometimes…you’ve got to figure things out in the minute, and that’ s okay.
Focus On Your Spiritual Needs
I bet you’ll agree that spiritual needs are the most important. So often when I talk to women, they’re in a frazzled state.
Things have been going rough. Then, through our conversation, they realize that their quiet time or their prayer time has slipped. Life just got in the way.
It happens to me. I get up early, meaning to have quiet time. But I end up checking email, then, “all of a sudden,” I have no time for the Lord.
These times are when we’ll want to re-prioritize our spiritual practices. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else will be added unto us.
There’s the 80/20 rule that when you do the 20%, the 80% tends to take care of itself. Our 20% is really seeking God.
“What do YOU have for me today, Lord?”
When you pray this, He’ll make you more efficient, direct your paths and help you say “no” to unhelpful things.
Seek His kingdom. Fill up with His Word in whatever way you can.
Maybe you can:
Watch or listen to a sermon.
Listen to praise music.
Talk to friends.
Pray through things.
Read a Bible study.
All of those things work. But,remember…we want to pay attention to the outcome. How does it change the rest of the day?
So, we go into that activity with faith. And that is going to be what we need to soothe our spirits and make the rest of the day go better.
How To Use These Methods to Stop Eating Too Much
These are the four areas to address when we’re eating too much.
First, if you’re finding that you’re eating more than you would like, start by checking the physical.
Think about your hunger and fullness, and pay attention to what you’re eating.
Second, look at the mental.
- Are your thoughts making it harder for you to stop eating?
- Are you having “sabotaging thoughts”?
- Can you start killing them preventively with the Word of God?
Third, look at the emotional.
- How can you fill up your emotional tank? When it gets to the heat of the moment, you need enough left in you to say, “No, thanks.”
Finally, consider the spiritual.
- Keep your spirit filled with the goodness of God.
- Pray for the peace that surpasses understanding, so that you can say no to your flesh and walk in His power.
Pick one or two things to work on. Keep it small and sow the seed of self-control. Watch God show up on your behalf.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.