A question I get asked a lot when counseling people towards re-discovering that intuitive way of eating is, “But I’m just so fearful of overeating! How do I make peace with food when I just know for a fact that I will end up overeating?” Well, though it’s not something that’s achieved as soon as you decide to make peace with food, getting over the fear of overeating IS possible! So today I wanted to help you take that step, yourself, as you move towards eating restriction free…giving up that fear is essential.
Before I go into how to deal with the fear of overeating, I first want to do a little background on why maybe you, and so many other women, struggle with overeating. Overeating, or binging in any level, stems from restriction. I like to give the example of a rebellious child who turns away from their parent’s instruction because of being held captive for so long. Restriction leads to extremes in the other direction. The same is true with food. When we’re restrictive with what we eat, our natural rebellious child is bound to come out and we overeat or binge on that which was restricted.
Naturally, after cycles of this restrict-overeat habit, guilt begins to sink in. We feel guilty for eating what we’d tried so hard to resist (i.e. not letting ourselves eat certain foods deemed “unhealthy in our eyes). And we feel guilty for not being able to stop eating what we’d restricted.
But, can I tell you something? Your overeating is a totally, 100% NORMAL response to restriction. Binging is your body’s safety net for feeling starved and deprived. It’s how we were wired to survive.
So, that being said, how do we deal with the fear of overeating?
The answer is actually quite simple.
That sounds scary, right? Here I am telling you not to fear overeating, but instead to embrace the possibility of overeating by allowing yourself full freedom to eat all foods. I know this sounds like a crazy step, but trust me. And more importantly, trust your body.
Ok, so here’s some practical steps to deal with the fear of overeating you can practice:
- Embrace an “all foods fit” mindset around food. Remember that food is not moral, “good or bad”. Instead, allow yourself freedom to enjoy all foods.
- Listen to body cues, signals, and feelings to help guide what you choose to eat and how much you eat. Use this instead of food rules to keep you away from a restrictive diet. If you’re craving a bagel, girl, go get that bagel! Remember what we said earlier, restriction only keeps you trapped to the overeating (binging)/ restricting cycle.
- Lastly, give yourself grace and remember that this is not a quick learning process. This takes time and so much grace. You may find yourself doing really well with listening to your body, responding to your hunger, and practicing a food positive mindset, but then fall and wake up one morning bloated from overeating the night before. The important thing is to get back up, learning from all experiences, and showering your body with love regardless. Remember, you can actually thank your body for your overeating experiences because it’s your body’s natural protection against starvation. So stay gracious throughout the process.
Like I said, this is a process. It takes time, so don’t become discouraged.