Before that next binge, asking these questions can stop a binge in it’s tracks, and empower you to resist overeating now and in the future.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our
response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Victor Frankl
Although I’ve successfully maintained my weight loss, I still have setbacks! I still have times when I choose a craving over my plan. Days when I choose to indulge rather than create boundaries. I even have days I straight up overeat until I feel sick.
My latest binge involved half of a box of wheat thins, because every time I opened the pantry, those wheat thins stared back at me.
I told myself, “I should just eat the rest of that box. That way they’ll be gone and won’t tempt me anymore. I can have a fresh start tomorrow”.
Discovering how I justify the overeating behavior
It starts innocently enough. I impulsively grab a snack that wasn’t on my plan for the day. Usually this is bread or tortilla’s. Then, the mental game begins. Once I’ve allowed myself that small bit of rebellion, my mind starts to offer me reasons to keep going.
The difference now than when I was heavier is that now I’m listening to those excuses! Now I’m paying attention. Now I’m taking that pause between thinking about overeating and actually doing it, and how my mind is talking me into it.
Now, when I have an impulsive craving, I ask myself this ONE question:
What is my brain saying to me (or my internal dialogue) to convince me to binge or eat off my plan?
Some of these excuses to overeat include:
- I deserve to eat this. I’ve been “good” for so long.
- I never do this. It’s been a long time since I had a spoonful of peanut butter.
- You can have those crackers just this once. You can stop after one serving.
- You are really good about getting back on track later. Just enjoy this right now.
- You exercised more, so you should eat more.
- You need some energy to get through this afternoon. You should eat more food.
- That snack tasted really good. I should have another.
- You never get to eat this. You only live once, you should be enjoying life.
- I should finish off this box of crackers, then it can’t tempt me anymore (I used that one just yesterday!!)
- You screwed up today, might as well go all in and start over tomorrow!
- I don’t want to miss out.
The longer I can sit in these thoughts and become aware of what my brain is trying to do, the easier it is for me to see the flaws in the excuses.
Sometimes I still eat off plan. But, I’m more aware, and I know that the more I give into the impulse, the stronger that habit gets (of giving in).
When you take action on every impulsive craving, you reinforce the behavior. Each time you resist, you are strengthening new habits.
The more I practice saying no to myself and living with intention, the stronger THAT habit gets. EVERY DAY IS PRACTICE to choose the impulse or the intention!
So, once you hear the excuse, poke holes in it! Refute the lie’s that your brain is using to make you overeat. Your brain wants you to do the easy, comfortable, and pleasurable thing.
Here’s how I’d refute these excuses to overeat.
- The brains excuse: “I deserve to eat this”. Refuting it: What you deserve is reaching your goals! What you deserve is the feeling that your food doesn’t control you. What you deserve is a nice bath. What you deserve is to live the next 50 years better than the first 50 years!
- The brains excuse: “I never do this!” Refuting it: Is that even true? Can you be honest and say you NEVER eat whatever you feel like. haha
- The brains excuse: “Just this once.” Refuting it: is THAT true? How often have you said that and it became, just this once, 500 times.
- The brains excuse: “Why not eat what I want and get back on track later.” Refuting it: Why not? Because you aren’t an impulsive human who should give into every craving and desire. You have incredible control in other areas of your life, why let food control you. Food should be enjoyed, YES,.. but it doesn’t control you. 🙂
- The brains excuse: I don’t want to miss out. Refuting it: What are you missing out on? A cookie? What about missing out on living your best life!!??”
I’m an EXPERT in bingeing and messing up. And I actually just heard a podcast where they did a study. It said, the more confident you are that you will be compliant to your plan “tomorrow”, the MORE we binge today. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.
When I have the urge to binge, or just following a binge, I ask my self some questions, and sometimes I’ll even journal it. (here’s a list of 40 food journal prompts)
The steps to overcome overeating with the one question
So, to recap, the next time you decide to eat off plan, overeat, or binge, do these things:
- When the urge to eat something strikes, ask yourself: Is this an impulsive decision to eat that, or was it intentional and on my plan.
- If it’s impulsive, I ask that ONE QUESTION from above:
What is my brain telling me, or my internal dialogue, that is making it OK for me to eat this thing?
You might hear things like, I’ll start over tomorrow, or It tastes so good, I just want one more, or everyone else can eat these things, I should be able to as well!”
You can also ask yourself, Am willing to break my plan, knowing that tomorrow I won’t reach my goals?
Once you answer those questions, you’ll be in a better position to be conscious before the next urge to binge.
Anyway, I hope that helps. Every time you mess up, you LEARN valuable things. So, consider it information to help you practice what will happen next time.
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing hasRalph Waldo Emerson
changed but that our power to do has increased.”
Do you want to persist in overeating, or persist in practicing self control?
What will make you proud. What will help you create the life you want? Are these behaviors getting you where you want to go?
One Harvard study showed, not eating a food reduced cravings more effectively than eating the food. (source)