Eating the whole bag of chips? 3 steps to break this habit.Jun 29, 2022
If you find yourself eating the whole bag of chips (or the whole pan of brownies, the box of cereal or that whole bag of whatever), today is for you.
- what’s the root cause of this behavior
- a 3 step process for ending it
Think of a food you feel out of control around.
(In the past my binge foods were pizza, cookie dough and brownies.)
Do you have one of those foods in mind for yourself? Good.
How does overeating that food make you feel?
Uncomfortably full? Regretful? Mad at yourself? Disgusted? Ashamed? Isolated?
When I was engaging in binge and overeating behaviors, I did it by myself. I never thought, “Mmm, you know what sounds good? Inviting friends over and then gorging myself on pizza, brownies, and candy in front of them!”
Binging and overeating take place in isolation.
Can you relate?
Let's dig in to what causes overeating and binge episodes.
When you are looking at a tree and it's producing rotten fruit, you don't just look at the leaves and the branches to diagnose the sickness. You look at the ROOTS.
Consider the actual root cause of your overeating:
- Top level view - it starts with worshiping the thin ideal. It's not just you individually. It's the culture that we live in. So what happens when you worship the thin ideal? Well, you compare that ideal to your body and you make a judgment or assessment about how you measure up. “Do I meet that ideal? Should I change my body to reach that ideal? Is it possible for me to reach that type of body? Is this a goal worthy of pursuing?”
- You make a decision (sometimes conscious, sometimes not) that you’re going to start pursuing this thin ideal.
- Next you start to think, “How do I make my body thinner and smaller?”
- You start researching. You search “how to lose weight” on Google, You pin “healthy” dinners on Pinterest. You join a gym. You hire a coach.
- You actively start dieting. You cut out soda. You stop eating pizza as much. You run more. You eat veggies and chicken.
Seems like a very healthy approach. Nothing crazy right?
Here’s the problem - you actually are still depriving yourself of something that you may want. Deprivation ultimately creates feelings of cravings (enter obsessive food thoughts.)
Deprivation can also create an inner rebellion when you feel that your autonomy is being threatened. You rebel against whatever rules are being put upon you even if it’s self-imposed rules!
All of a sudden you can’t take it anymore, you reject the diet, you overeat, you go off your plan, you “cheat”, you binge.
You start to regain weight. But you still desire to be thin.
And the whole cycle begins again. That's called the dieter's dilemma. And this is what's causing you to binge.
When you create scarcity by denying yourself a food, restricting it, or outright eliminating it, this eventually leads to binges. (And it will lead to binges of either foods that you do want OR it will lead to binges of substitutionary foods…foods that are “safe” in your mind but not actually what you want.)
Ever wonder, “Why am I just spooning nut butter out of the jar like a maniac?”
If you are not getting true satisfaction by eating foods you actually like and desire, then you will be more likely to seek out satisfaction in the volume of what you're eating.
You'll tend to go overboard on foods that you didn't even really want to eat. When I was restricting myself from sugar, I thought, “I'll get sugar free candy! And that will be a good substitute”.
But then I found myself uncontrollably binge eating the sugar-free candy because it still wasn't satisfying. What I really wanted was real sugar, not a sugar-free substitute.
That’s what’s causing you to eat the whole bag of chips.
And you may think it's because you don't have self control and you lack willpower. You may think it's because your husband's tempting you by bringing home the ice cream. You may think all these things, but they're really a smoke screen for the bigger, more toxic issue which is worshiping the thin ideal, and trying to pursue a smaller body or maintain a body that you have shrunk.
So remember that dieting is not only actively trying to shrink your body, it is also maintaining your shrunken body through restriction.
(A lot of the coaches you see out there who say - ”I lost and kept the weight off, you can do it too!” - what you’re not seeing is their real life day-to-day behaviors and I promise you that they're either restricting the type of foods eaten, they're restricting the amount eaten and/or they are over-exercising which is a form of purging.)
So how do you break this habit?
- You need to reject the thin ideal. And I know this can be very confronting and not an easy undertaking. When I became an intuitive eater, I went through a period of time where I tried it and I gained weight. And I said, “I hate intuitive eating. This doesn't work for me. I'm done with it.” I tried going back to dieting behaviors (very common in a healing journey), but I quickly rediscovered what I already knew: Dieting doesn't work. It harms. And eventually I came back to intuitive eating and that's when I went ALL IN and experienced true forward progress and healing.)
- You need to start allowing your forbidden foods. If you find that all you do is overeat the chips, you know what I want you to do? Buy ONE flavor and brand of chips you like. Buy as many bags of chips as you need to keep it stocked in your house. Do not run out. If you do, go buy more immediately. Have like five bags of Doritos, or Ruffles or tortilla chips, or whatever you overdo, keep them in your house and give yourself permission to eat as many chips as you want. If all you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for weeks is chips, that is PERFECT. That’s exactly what needs to happen for you to HABITUATE the food and make it neutral for you. Also, eat this food mindfully with NO DISTRACTIONS (no TV, no phone, no computer). This is essential to habituation. (PRO TIP: Only do this with ONE food that you feel out of control with at a time, and keep the brand and flavor exactly the same. And do not run out of it until you habituate it. You’ll know you’ve habituated the item when you no longer feel scared or out of control to have it in your house, and you’ll even forget it’s in your pantry!)
- You have to be willing to shelve weight loss/maintenance as a goal right now in order to heal your relationship with food. So if you want to stop overeating the whole bag of chips, you actually need to allow yourself to eat the bag of chips.
I hope this was valuable for you.
Remember your biggest takeaway is if you find yourself out of control around a food and binge/overeating it, you are still worshiping the thin ideal which is causing this restrict-binge cycle.
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