Sometimes we overeat. We eat until we’re full…and then we just keep eating. It happens when we’re alone. Or socializing. It happens when we’re drinking. Or sad. Overeating can be the much-‐needed excuse for a 5-‐minute break. Often, overeating is triggered by cycles of restriction and self-‐body-‐shaming.
Does this sound familiar? If it does, you’re in good company. The truth is, I’ve never met another woman who has not used food for something other than fuel for their body. For some people, it’s an occasional occurrence and barely affects them outside of the need to wear stretchy pants to Thanksgiving dinner. For others, it’s a more frequent event that is usually indicative of buffering – or numbing one’s negative emotions through the use of food as a vice.
Here’s the thing…we are meant to eat a lot of high-‐calorie food, very quickly, and be really efficient at storing body fat.
You read that right. ;-‐) Our ancestors…the ones that survived…the ones that we are directly descended from…are the ones that had a leg-‐up throughout times of famine and long, harsh Winters. That leg-‐up used to be the ability to overeat and successfully store the excess as body fat to be used on a rainy day -‐ or a freezing, snowy day in which food was scarce.
So, let’s do something so completely opposite that which you’ve ever done before. Right now, I want you to thank your body. Be grateful for the way you crave the high carb / high fat snacks and desserts. Give thanks for the way it can store fat just about anywhere. This propensity and ability is precisely what has allowed us to be alive now.
And, as we sit here in the year 2019, this propensity is precisely what might be frustrating you. Most of us are now surrounded by food created in a lab; food created to have the ‘perfect’ amount of sugar, salt, and fat to make us crave more and more of it. In fact, factories have a name for this. It’s called the “bliss point”. The bliss point is how manufacturers manipulate us by using our ancient genes against us and making it extremely difficult to regulate our hormones, blood sugar, and appetite cues.
Our ancient genes have not caught up to modern living. It’s a mismatch.
Now, I wouldn’t write a post that was all doom and gloom without sharing the upside.
The BEST part of all of this is that when we understand what’s happening and why it’s happening, we can gain back the upper hand. When you understand that overeating is part of your biology and that you are not broken, you can begin to release the shame that so much of us carry around.
Here are a few tips that you can start using right away if you struggle with overeating:
1) Slow down your eating. Have you noticed that most of the times you overeat, emotionally eat, or binge, you have eaten very quickly? Start by allowing yourself to eat whatever you want, but you must do so slowly. You’ll notice that bag of Doritos and those Pop Tarts kind of taste like fake food and chemicals when eaten slowly. On the other hand, “real food” usually tastes better when you slow down to chew your meals. Which brings me to…
2) Eliminate or reduce processed food. If it grew from a plant, swam in the sea, or ran across the land, it’s “real food”. Eating a diet full of real food will help you reset your hormones, blood sugar, and appetite cues so that your body will start telling you the truth. Hunger will be true hunger. Satiety will show up after you’ve eaten enough. It’s a beautiful thing.
3) Practice loving your body. This is something that will take time…allow yourself the time to make progress here. When you come from a place of body positivity, you will be able to make more loving choices for yourself. The reverse is also true.
– Start with a neutral affirmation such as “I have a body”. Say it over and over again.
– Move to something positive, but easy to believe. Example: “My body allows me to _ and I love to _”. Fill in the blanks for yourself – it can be walk, ski, play with your kids, or anything that you enjoy.
– Once you’re comfortable with those, step it up a notch. Try this: “I like my body for what it does for me”.
– Next: “I like my body”.
– Lastly, and with tons of practice, you’ll be able to tell yourself (and believe it!), “I love my body.” Imagine the choices you’ll make on a daily basis when you truly love your body.
Tara Allen is a women’s health RN, and certified: health coach, personal trainer, and nutritionist. She’s a mama of 2 young kiddos and believes her mission on this planet is to help women and families get healthy, fit, and strong so they can live their life to the fullest.
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