If you’re at the stage where your eating feels out of control, you’re always eating like it’s your last meal or you’re bingeing like mad then you’re in the right place. The problem with this kind of eating (and it’s a habit or a learned behaviour that you’ve got into, that you can also get out of) is that a restrictive diet just isn’t going to fix it. What you need is to understand why your eating feels out of control, so that you can do something about it.
Stress could be one of the major factors in why your eating feels out of control. Stress is often a long term thing, bubbling under the surface, caused by being too busy, juggling work and a family, having to look after people, whether that be children, a parent or even caring for a partner.
Stress can lead to other problems (that we’ll cover later) such as tiredness, difficult emotions and feelings of overwhelm and the inability to cope and can leave you feeling a little out of control in general. But what it also does is give you that need for a boost, bubbling away constantly and leads to that extra cake with your coffee, a few crisps with your lunch, a pick me up snack late afternoon or those few glasses of wine in the evening with savoury snacks or half a pack of biscuits with your cup of tea whilst watching the tv.
Stress is a constant drain on your body and wellbeing and leads to lots of times when you turn to food without really realising it.
Being tired can also make it seem like your eating feels out of control. Tiredness affects the hormones that let you know when you’re hungry and when you’re full. A lot of my clients say that they’ve lost the ability to tell when they are hungry and full and it could be that being constantly tired, through being busy or under stress is a contributing factor.
Tiredness also creates cravings for quick energy foods. The answer here isn’t to ‘prevent cravings’ because your body is just doing it’s job, working in the best way it knows how, to have it’s immediate needs met, the answer is to address the problem (of tiredness) rather than the symptom (cravings). But again, your eating feels out of control, particularly if you find yourself honouring your body’s signals.
Lack of time
When you’re busy, busy, busy food and eating can often be an afterthought. You grab a sandwich on the run and eat it in the car, you nip into the supermarket on the way home and buy something that you can bung in the oven or the microwave or you end up grabbing takeaway.
None of these foods are necessarily foods you should avoid but when you’re pressed for time it’s the way you’re eating them that means your eating feels out of control.
Because you’re eating ‘on the run’ you’re eating fast, you can end up eating more than feels comfortable and you can end up eating things that maybe don’t feel fully satisfying.
In the moment emotions
The BIG one, when it comes to binge eating is that coping mechanism for dealing with unwanted or uncomfortable emotions. It’s not just that your eating feels out of control but actually, when you’re emotionally eating your eating IS out of control!
Turning to food when you’re feeling sad, angry, frustrated or down in some way is common but not helpful but if you can recognise it then that’s the first step to fixing it. Try to identify when you’re doing this so that your awareness can start to impact on your behaviour.
Sitting with uncomfortable feelings is a hard habit to start but once you get used to it, it feels better in the long run than eating that whole tub of ice cream or family bag of Doritos.
Past family attitudes to food
If your family backstory is eating everything on your plate or eating the whole portion assigned to you then that can have an impact too. Our appetites fluctuate from day to day, so an arbitrary amount of food on your plate may not be what your body needs right now. Get out of the habit of eating what’s given to you and start listening to your body in order to feel more in control of your eating.
Diet baggage you’re still carrying
Diets encourage you to override your body’s signals. If you’ve been a serial dieter you may no longer recognise when you’re hungry or full after years of seeing hunger as a good thing and fullness as a bad thing. Maybe you even did a diet where you had to eat a set number of hours after the last time (yes, they do exist) and so you feel bad about eating too soon after your last meal, even though you may be hungry.
This can of guilt and confusion around what you should and shouldn’t be doing is a big factor and makes your eating feel out of control, even though you’re actually controlling it too much!
Feelings of unworthiness
This is a huge factor when it comes to getting your eating under control and taking the action steps to make those changes.
Do you really feel you deserve this? Do you feel like you’re not worthy of putting your eating needs back at the top of the list. Is your stress due to the need to have your needs met more fully, is your lack of time due to putting everybody else first?
Do you need more boundaries, more support to create an environment where you feel like you are worth taking the time to eat well, plan your food, and take back that control?
I say you are worthy and you do deserve this.
If you want to explore this more then you can join us on 11th March in the Understanding Emotional Eating complimentary challenge. We’ll be looking at all the reasons you may binge / comfort / emotionally eat and how you can start to fix it. Click the pic below to join in.