We have heard it before haven’t we? Someone tells you that they are a secret eater or that they are a binge eater. What does this mean anyway?
It’s so easy to be put into a category relating to our overeating.
However, overeating is so much more complex than being just a ‘secret eater’ or a ‘grazer’ Have you ever stopped to think about why you behave in such a way?
As a weight management counsellor, a phrase I hear quite a lot is ‘I have a weight problem’
This isn’t actually true. The truth of the matter is that if you are over weight, you have an eating problem (as in you eat too much). The weight gain is just the result of over eating.
Unfortunately overeating is a symptom of an underlying issue whether it be because we are stressed or unhappy or for another reason altogether. Sometimes people turn to alcohol, shopping or gambling and other times people can turn to food. In fact overeating and turning to food is a great way of not dealing with our problems. It can also be linked with the behaviour called Denial.
Again. As a weight management counsellor, when working with slimmers, I see denial every day. Now it’s not my job to judge. In fact far from it, it is my job however, to highlight any behaviours which are unhelpful or inappropriate in order to help my slimmers overcome the reasons why they put weight on in the first place.
So what type of over eater are you? Here’s some classic examples…
Emotional/Comfort eater – Picture the scene, you have a bad day at work. You immediately find yourself opening the fridge or food cupboards and reaching for what ever is in there. Now what you don’t realise is why you are truly eating. You may believe that you are physically hungry but what you are really hungry for is denying yourself that emotion that you are uncomfortable with. Some people eat when they are sad, some eat when they are happy. There isn’t a closed book when it comes to the type of emotional eater. I have never understood why it is called comfort eating. It should be more appropriately named discomfort eating as we usually feel anything but comfort especially after overeating in response to this emotion.
Grazer/Picker - Someone who keeps picking at little bits all day rather than eating regular meals per day. In turn as you are a grazer, you don’t truly allow yourself to feel hungry or have a break from eating. The calories soon mount up as it’s hard for you to keep track of what you have eaten. In fact if you were to keep a food log, you would be surprised at how much you actually do consume in a day
Binge eater – There are so many myths around binge eating. In fact the phrase is used so freely it’s no longer a shock to anyone anymore. The truth of the matter is that someone who truly does suffer from binge eating can easily consume thousands of calories in one sitting. Eating when not physically hungry and eating to the point of feeling or needing to be physically unwell. Binges are planned and the eater usually has certain types of food that they usually consume during a binge ‘special binge foods’. Someone who binge eats, usually binges in private due to the enormous feelings of guilt associated with the behaviour. Usually they are disgusted with themselves and then tend to cut down on eating which in turn makes the behaviour worse.
Secret eating – We all need alone time, it can be healthy for us to be alone however, when we choose to be alone so we can eat, then that is a behaviour that isn’t appropriate. Secret eating is usually associated with binge eating and usually involves a ‘secret stash’ of food hidden somewhere for when we want it.
These are just a few common behaviours associated with overeating and often have feelings of guilt, disgust and shame associated with them. In turn making the issue worse as the overeater usually suffers from low self esteem, depression and anxiety and as the overeating is usually associated with emotions, this can lead to a destructive cycle of overeating once again
Have you noticed that the cycle of overeating can literally go round and around and around. It’s like being stuck on a roundabout and not knowing which exit to take. Believe it or not, we all have choices. The choices we make can define our journeys. You can choose to numb your feelings, eat something to make you feel better (for that short term moment) or you can choose to get off that roundabout and make that change.
Change isn’t easy – if it was, we wouldn’t be here right now. However, change is do-able.
Three simple words can change your life forever – DECIDE. COMMIT. ACHIEVE
What ever you choose in life, you make a mental commitment and you achieve the results that come as a result of that mental commitment.
So if you decide you are going to lose weight, you have made that mental commitment and you will then achieve weight loss as a result. However, if you decide that you are going to eat based on emotions, then you will achieve what you have always achieved and will continue that cycle of overeating.
Recognise your emotional eating:Awareness can be a saviour when it comes to emotional eating. It takes time and practice however, you will start to become conscious of your ‘triggers’ and patterns and over time will be able to recognise why you are eating.
Go easy on yourself:I really dislike this ability we all have to put ourselves down. I say to my clients, imagine there’s a little child in the room. Now say to the child some of the thoughts you have about yourself on a daily basis. ‘Your fat’, ‘Your useless’ . It would be hard to do that to a child especially as we know that child would grow up to be an insecure and unstable adult. Now why do you find it so easy to do it to yourself?
Recognise the good in you. We do so many great things every day. They could be trivial things like making someone smile, helping someone out, putting on an outfit and thinking to yourself that you look great. However, how often do we stop and praise ourselves for these good things? In fact, it’s easier to be negative than it is positive and that’s a fact!
Shift your thinking and change will happen. Attitude is everything and it IS possible to stop overeating.