Food Issues: What to do When You Overeat

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Getting a Handle on Your Eating Habits


A topic that comes up all of the time in my office during this time of the year is overeating. People wonder what to do when you overeat, and why does it happen.

What is driving the overeating or the feeling of powerlessness over food? Of course, you’re not powerless over food. You’re feeling powerless because there’s something unconscious driving you to overeat.

Let’s talk about what’s not driving you, what’s possibly driving you, and what to do about it.

In my experience, food is a numbing factor. When you’re busy eating, experiencing, talking through meals, and everything that goes along with it, that’s a way to numb a feeling. You’re numbing yourself. You’re getting all caught up in the food, texture, taste, and who you are talking to, as a way to not feel.

So, what is the emotion that you are hiding underneath the food?

It’s very interesting; people often think it’s boredom. It’s not boredom. Boredom is another way of numbing. Boredom/numbing is all the goal, the unconscious piece to it all is the feeling. Typically, in my experience, this is neediness. You’ve heard me talk about enemy emotions, neediness is one of them, and that’s what tends to drive the overeating.

If I asked you right now, how do you feel about being needy? And you cringe at the thought of being needy; then neediness is probably your enemy emotion. You may be covering it up with excessive food consumption, or feeling powerless over your food choices.

How do we figure this out?

If the emotion you’re trying to cover up is neediness, a way to get comfortable with your neediness is to uncouple the neediness from food. Right now, it’s coupled with food. For example, if you feel needy, if unconsciously it starts to come up, you eat food to cover it up. The goal is to uncouple the two and slow it down.

To disconnect neediness and food:

Start by practicing naming your emotions several times a day.

Set an alarm for five minutes, several times a day, where you’ll stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” If you’re really good at hiding your feelings, you’re going to come up with thoughts. Thoughts such as, “That was a stupid thing to do, I’m behind at work, the weather stinks.” These are all thoughts. Feeling words are: needy, joyful, sad, anxious, irritated, angry.

You’ll want to come up with one feeling word that you’re feeling in the moment. What feeling is behind your thought? The more you practice, the more you’ll get comfortable with neediness and disconnect it from eating.

If you need any help with what to do when you overeat or have any questions, give us a call at 757-340-8800.

For more on this topic and other topics, go to www.drldabney.com and www.lauradabney.com.

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