I have had some challenges with overeating in my adult life. It started when I gave up on my dream of becoming a professional flutist at 18 (no coincidence), and it can reappear if I lose hope about my now rekindled musical life. Once it appears, however, it's a dangerous feedback loop that doesn't need much prompting from my life to continue. If allowed to get worse, it's like a fast-moving train-- hard to slow down.
Thanks to God I am in a good place about food now and so I want to share what has helped me so that others will not suffer as much. Overeating seduces us into thinking it will comfort us but in fact multiplies our pain. So, let's do the things we know will help-- even if we don't really want to be inconvenienced by changing. ;)
Here is my list of suggestions in no particular order:
1. If something makes you feel addicted, don't eat it. For you, that food is poison. Often times we are most addicted to things that either send our blood sugar up or contain elements we cannot digest (when undigested food enters the bloodstream through an unhealthy gut, it can act as an opioid in the brain). For me the main foods I do not eat are conventional sweets (including honey, sugar, coconut sugar, agave, and maple syrup). I also don't eat dried fruit, corn, white flour (even gluten free) or dairy except fresh off the farm. This is a lot easier to do for me than eating these foods in moderation-- which for me is about as easy as winning a Jello wrestling match with Hulk Hogan. Oh that is a TERRIBLE image. But then again, so is overating.
2. Come up with treats that YOU like. For example, I have started making sweet chocolate swirl-- combining stevia with cocoa powder (1 t to 2 c)-- when I have a hankering for something sweet I make coconut oil freezer chocolate, pudding, or a shake. Or, I'll do the same ratios but use cinnamon instead, and put it in coconut milk pudding with fresh berries.
3. Drink your water. Being hydrated improves circulation, which increases the flow of fresh oxygenated blood to your brain so you freak out less. Because freaking out and eating too much are definitely related, no? I drink more water than most people think is normal but I don't care. It works for me. I've heard the guideline, "one ounce of water per pound of body weight." I usually do a little bit less than that but it's a good place to start. I have a half-gallon water bottle that I finish drinking twice a day-- once before lunch and once before dinner.
4. On the subject of the benefits of oxygenated blood, exercise does this too! And even better if you're out under the sky and breathing fresh air. Cardiovascular exercise reduces anxiety and depression and if you add in weight training, the benefit is more profound. I like the exercise routines in the book Body for Life but PLEASE don't follow his nutritional advice. Yikes.
5. Sometimes when we are tired we eat to keep ourselves awake. So, go to bed early!
6. Baby rats whose mothers give them plenty of licking and grooming after a traumatic event are much more resilient. Resiliency means keeping your hope, which in turn helps you keep your promises to yourself. So, can you give yourself more loving and careful grooming? I am not the queen of fancy hair but even a nice neat French braid makes my day feel better. I also like to make myself homemade, inexpensive body care products like face wash and lotion (check a Janice Cox book out of your library). It only takes an extra moment each day to make me feel loved and pampered. Along the same lines, if you have a sweetie or pet, snuggle more!
7. Okay, I may lose some folks here but cod liver oil is good for the brain. I take a teaspoon every night and it helps keep me in a good place. I like Green Pastures brand cinnamon tingle, and have also in the past used Nordic Naturals orange. Make sure to balance out your cod liver oil with plenty of other good fats in your diet.
8. Now on to the silly. When we go into panic mode and prepare to overeat, we are living in a very primitive part of the brain. Lecturing won't help. Big words won't help. Threats of future demise definitely will make it worse. This part of the brain wants to make things better NOW and it knows how. It is not creative. So, talk to it as if it were a two year old. Find a way to sum up what you want to accomplish in two words if you can. It's embarrasing to say, but right now my words are "remember, no snot!" because conventional dairy, which I'm newly avoiding- makes me sneeze.
9. Take a good probiotic. The one that I take is ProBio by Enzymedica. I never really thought probiotics made a difference until I took this one. Somehow, having more good guys in my gut than bad helps me crave the bad stuff less. ;)
10. Write down what you want a normal, good food day to look like for yourself. If you get goofy and write it in rhyme or draw little pictures to accompany it, so much the better. Put it up on your fridge. It's okay to update with a new version when things change. In fact the sooner you do that the less likely you'll be to derail in a transition. I feel secure knowing what to expect, and motivated by the vision of what I'm aiming for. For example, here's the last line of mine: "And late at night, when hunger you dread- take cod liver oil to clear your sweet head." It makes me smile and keeps me from late night noshing when I should be sleeping.
10. Good fat is good. Even if you're trying to lose weight, you should still eat fat. If you have that full, happy and warm feeling at least once every day, you'll be more likely to thrive. I also LOVE bone broth, and it gives me that same feeling.
11. Processed food is engineered for humans to crave it-- by scientists paid lots of money-- and then advertised by marketing folks paid lots of money. Think I have enough willpower to resist all that and eat processed foods in moderation? You're right! I don't. And that's to say nothing of how cheaply that food is produced to compensate for all those salaries. So, instead of buying processed food, I make everything from scratch from yummy ingredients. Before you run out of the room screaming that you don't have time, let me assure you that this is doable. I don't have a lot of time either, nor a lot of money, but I've learned I must prioritize good food properly prepared-- if I don't, I'm sure to waste both money and time making poor choices. I spend a total of total of 5 or 6 hours a week on food prep- less than an hour a day, and on busy days I'm often just dumping a jar of soup into a pot and heating it up-- then feeling VERY satisfied and lucky when I eat it! I try to always keep broth, soup, and washed salad ingredients in the fridge. It makes me feel secure; I know I'll always be well-fed. I am less likely to overeat if I have nourishing food available to me. If I want variety, I'll roast a chicken or scramble an egg.
12. Make friends with your Idonwannahaftas. We all have them- multiple ones on many subjects. Take them out into the light of day, and let them battle each other out. For example, one in my life is: Idonwannahafta carry heavy water jugs to work, but Idonwannahafta drink gross-tasting water, and Idonwannahafta struggle with anxiety & eating too much while I'm there. So I guess, Iwannahafta carry that water after all. Let yourself whine and want to be passive but keep whining until you get to the heart of your true purpose-- what you really DO want.
13. Pray. Ask others to pray for you when you need it. My sisters have pulled me out of many a ditch by doing just that, and it's an honor to share that gift. God really loves you and knows you and can tell you exactly what you need to hear and learn.
14. When you see a big list like this, breathe. You have your whole life to learn and experiment and find out what works for you. Try one thing and see if it makes your life better after a few days' commitment.
15. If you're stuck in an overeating cycle, the first few days of non-crazed eating are the hardest. Do what you need to do to make it work. I have been known to plan a healthy, sweet-tasting sugar free snack per daytime hour for a day or two, if I need help jump-starting my process. This is temporary and worth it if it gets you back on your feet!
16. For further reading, here are some ideas. I'll need to log on to a computer to activate these links-- I'll do that when I can.
The book I most recommend on the subject is Martha Beck's <a href="url">http://www.powells.com/s?kw=Four+day+win&class=</The Four Day Win>.
I also recommend learning more about nutrition from the Weston A. Price Foundation:
It has a depressing title, but if you read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration on the Gutenberg website, you're eyes will be forever opened-- and you will be inspired by its message of hope:
This Weston A. Price Healthy Baby Gallery is also fun and inspiring. It is full of pictures and descriptions of the impact that real nourishment can have on little ones. For example, here is a description of one sweet boy: "He loves virtually everybody and reaches out to the world in total joy." Wouldn't you like to have such a sweet nature? What works for them, can work for us! I find that eating with care really makes it easier to be a person of love and good character. It also helps me sleep through the night. ;)
For sustainable and healthy weight loss, harness the principles of Trim and Healthy Mama (though I don't eat all the ingredients they include).
Good luck and let me know how it goes! And if you have ideas to add please post in the comments-- I need all the help I can get in this life! :)