Lesson From The Other Side of Overeating
As I’ve written before, I believe that moderation is part of being on track. What that means to me is that occasionally we’ll have a day that isn’t completely indulgent but you will eat either more or eat choices that you normally wouldn’t do. Yesterday, I stayed on track with my choices but I ate more than I normally do.
I’m not making a big deal about it today. I didn’t weigh myself nor plan to until my normal weigh-in. I’m not hanging up over it or stressing about it….no shame or guilt involved. The most important day is today. The day after. It is easy to stay off track for just another day that somehow, sometimes can go on for days, weeks or months at a time. What determines getting back on track is the day after when you return to your normal food choices and eating. However, I always look back and reflect on what I learned about a situation and especially a different food day than my norm.
What was going on? Nothing in particular. I was hungry. I was hungrier than I normally was. I checked in with myself to see if it was head hunger or true hunger. It is a funny thing about head hunger and true, physical hunger. They can seem like the same thing but they aren’t. Head hunger can masquerade as physical hunger unless you pay attention, really check in with your body and see what you are hungry for. Usually if you are hungry for a specific food – usually carbs, sugar or fatty food choices, it is head hunger. If a healthy choice would satisfy you, then it is probably physical hunger. Other questions I also ask are how long has it been since I ate last and what did I eat. If it was a protein drink or something that doesn’t have a high satiety level (cottage cheese versus a piece of lean protein), then it leads me to believe that it is physical hunger.
My lesson from yesterday’s eating were a couple of things. First, I utilized the checking in process for myself to differentiate if I was physically hungry or was in that pesky masquerading head hunger. I reflected back over the past couple of days and I had eaten lighter than normal. I was craving healthy food choices – just more in quantity because I was probably hungrier due to the couple of earlier days that I’d eaten lighter. I listened to my body. It was truly hungry. I had the physical sensations of hunger. I also checked in with my emotions. Was anything going on? Was I bored? Was I procrastinating about something? Was I upset or experiencing any uncomfortable emotions? All the answers came up negative so I knew chances are that it wasn’t emotional eating or head hunger.
All of this may sound like a hassle. It isn’t. As you do it enough, you become a Sherlock Holmes of your eating and hunger. It becomes second-nature. When you don’t give into the head hunger, you become stronger in your food choices and staying on track. When you eat and it physically satisfies you rather than emotionally satisfies you, you realize the difference when you do it often enough. When you are able to make the difference, you naturally will not want to give in to the head hunger any longer.
Eating for head hunger leaves you wanting more and more, never filling you up because it is emotionally-driven and not responding to physical cues from your body. Head hunger is the equivalent of filling the gas tank in your car and keep filling it past the gas tank where it runs down your car onto the cement. With the gas tank overfull, you are wasting money. With overfilling your pouch or stomach, you are wasting calories and compromising your health, emotional and mental well-being by gaining weight.
The next time you slip off your food plan and indulge, use the episode and learn from it. Ask yourself what lessons you can take from it. Pay attention to how you felt afterwards. Focus on what caused you to do it, look underneath the surface of the behavior. Become the Sherlock Holmes of your own body and life. When did you really need to feel better or nurtured rather than eating. What was going on right before it happened? Was it head hunger or physical hunger? Now, use that awareness and knowledge to change the future. If your tendency is to eat out of head hunger, think of reaching out for healthy food choices or self-nurturing things you can do. Maybe you were tired – take a nap. Did you need to get out of the environment where you eat – take a walk. Did you need to talk out emotions or a problematic situation – talk to a trusted family member or friend. Give yourself what you really need when head hunger strikes; give yourself what you really need when physical hunger hits and, most importantly, know the difference between the two.
Once you identify the difference between physical hunger and head/heart hunger, you will naturally lose weight and maintain your weight loss. Every eating episode has a lesson in it for you. Learn the lesson and you’ll graduate from the continual weight loss struggle.
Believe In Yourself,
Certified Life Coach, Weight Loss Surgery Coach
Certified Back On Track Facilitator