Overeating is by no means a new phenomenon within society and particularly in western cultures where access to food is immense. In fact, we need only look at our global obesity rates to see that perhaps we are loading our plates a little too high. Here's our friend and qualified nutritionist Anna McCormack with three tips to help with overeating.
Whether we are suffering from the very physical effects of overeating such as bloating, excess gas, tiredness and heaviness, or the more emotional symptoms such as feeling flat, guilty, regret or beating ourselves up, most of us can say on some level that we are familiar with the "overeating" blues.
The question is then here to be asked. Why do we continue to make the same choices - as in this case ‘overeating’ - when clearly its not conducive to our physical and mental health and wellbeing? Like with all patterns and addictions, this question is one that is very personal and can take time to unravel, however, it is not impossible.
The process of understanding why we turn to food for comfort, and the triggers that go along with this, involves a great deal of self honesty along with a genuine willingness to be super kind and compassionate towards oneself. In keeping it simple, here’s a 3 step guide to developing greater self understanding and a more positive relationship with food.
1. Always bring Acceptance and Understanding to Yourself
There is not enough said about the value of bringing acceptance and understanding to oneself throughout any process in life, and our diet is no exception. If you are aware that you have a tendency to overeat and would like to change this, remember that it can take time to make those changes. Acceptance and understanding is a great place to start.
Some will find this simple, and for others, it may be more difficult, but remember not to compare. Your relationship with acceptance is your own, and the more of it you have the more you will ensure that the negative feeling of guilt or shame, or being down on yourself will have no air time. Unfortunately having understanding for oneself doesn’t take away the bloating, tiredness, heaviness, irritability and the other physical consequences that result from overeating, but its definitely a good start.
2. Practice Regular Self Care
Another factor that is often underestimated is self-care. Self-care simply refers to the caring actions throughout the day we make towards ourselves. These acts can be small or large such as; brushing our teeth every day with the purpose to keep them clean and healthy, making sure we get enough rest in the evening, taking the time to exercise each day (even if it is simply a 20-minute walk) or creating stop moments throughout our day to check in with our body and how we are feeling.
These things may seem simple, but they go a long way when it comes to supporting our bodies and our choices thereafter. The more we care for ourselves, the less likely we are to make choices that are overindulgent or harmful to our bodies, and the more awareness too we will have when we are looking to make such choices. Making self-care our every day focus builds a rock solid foundation in our lives, and something we can come back to, when we seemingly fall off the wagon.
3. Take Responsibility
It can be incredibly empowering when we take responsibility for another area of our lives, and our diet is no exception. Being responsible with our food choices and the quantities we eat allows us the space to explore why we are overeating in the first place. Once we get to the core of what it is that triggers us to overeat, be it an anxiety we are holding in our bodies, the need to comfort ourselves, or when something arises that we do not want to feel, taking responsibility for this allows us to develop a greater awareness of ourselves, our bodies and therefore more understanding is on offer.
It then becomes a constant cycling or deepening of our relationship with ourselves, with food, and with life. Our body is the greatest marker we have when it comes to the types and quantities of foods we need to eat for good health and wellbeing. It communicates with us in many subtle and sometimes very obvious ways with its huge array of feelings and symptoms. Listening to our bodies more is a great starting point to developing a healthy relationship with our diet and one we need never stray from.