Not all emotional eating comes from the expectation of future deprivation, but some of it does. How many people, for example, decide to start a diet on June 1, and then spend May 22 to May 31 overeating — getting while the getting is good? A lot!
Even if you’ve sworn off dieting, a sense of deprivation can keep you eating after your body has had enough. Your conscious thought may be, “This is so good — I’m full but I can’t stop.” But what’s driving the compulsion, under the surface, is the feeling that not eating it now would be a flat-out loss because there likely won’t be another chance.
There is a very simple but effective solution.
First of all, you must swear off dieting. As long as you’re threatening yourself with deprivation, you will be vulnerable to rebellion eating. Promise yourself that you will never do this to yourself again, and mean it. Then come up with a short phrase you can say to yourself when you’re struggling with compulsion that reminds you there is no deprivation.
What I used to say to myself was, “There are a million cookies in the world.” I would say this to myself even if it wasn’t a cookie I was thinking of eating. It was a shorthand way of reminding myself that I didn’t have to eat this cookie (or whatever it was) right at this moment because there were an infinite number of them available to me, and I could have them at any time. I was living in a world of plenty.
I thought of this recently because someone in the Normal Eating Support Group posted something similar:
I’d like to share something I thought of that really helps me when am feeling nervous that won’t be fed – I remind myself that I will continue to feel hunger for the rest of my days, that I will continue to eat for the rest of my days and that there will always be food for me. Somehow part of me seems to think that at some point the food will stop, or that I need to get what I can while it is there, or to try and get to a place when I am “above” hunger (and will never need to eat again, how bizarre is that!!). Anyway, I just thought I would share this as it really helps and relaxes me, and it might for you, too.
Repeating something like this to yourself can seem like a small thing, but it’s actually quite powerful and effective. Give it a try!
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.