Feeling obsessed over food is never fun. And often, people that don’t struggle with food obsession simply don’t understand how deep the struggle can go.
To illustrate what I mean, I’d like to share something an acquaintance once mentioned (before he knew what I did for a living as the creator of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness):
“Check this out — I was on the office elevator today and this girl from the fifth floor got on and tried to make small talk by asking me what I was getting for lunch.
I said I hadn’t decided yet. And she said, ‘Wow, I’ve been thinking about what I’d eat for lunch since I finished breakfast.’ Isn’t that crazy?!
I can’t believe some people actually spend that much time thinking about food.”– Ignorant acquaintance person
*Sigh.* Little did that acquaintance know that I not only was that person at once point in my life, but I also coach people that struggle with food obsession.
If you can relate to that woman from the fifth floor, then you and I are in similar worlds, and I’d like to share some helpful tips to get you from Food Obsession to Food Freedom.
This blog post will share 5 ways to help you get there.
How to Stop Obsessing Over Food and Weight and All the Things
For something to feel like an obsession, there is often both a psychological and biological component.
We’ll start with the biological cause of food obsession and then dig into the psychological steps you can take to address your mindset.
Here are 5 steps you can take to reduce feelings of obsession over food:
1. Avoid “the famine reaction”
Did you know there’s a growing pile of research proving that dieting doesn’t work? And that dieting usually leads to gaining back all the weight you lost?
Consider this research from the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders:
“One of the major reasons for weight regain after [dieting] is that the body responds to energy restriction and weight loss with a series of adaptive responses that prevent ongoing weight loss and promote weight regain.
This series of adaptive responses – referred to herein as the Famine Reaction – includes increased appetite, reduced energy expenditure, and alternations in circulating concentrations of hormones that tend to stimulate appetite and promote fat accumulation.
Finding ways to reduce the intensity of this famine reaction would likely enable more people to keep weight off following lifestyle interventions…”– Amanda Salis
Long story short: Dieting makes your body think there’s a famine. And your body responds to a famine by burning less energy and trying to harbor body fat as a survival mechanism.
Long story even shorter: Dieting not only makes you feel crazy and obsessed over food, but it also doesn’t work. Period.
2. Use your psychology to your advantage
Now that we’ve discussed the biology part, let’s move onto the psychology part, which is my favorite! After all, this is the home of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness: a purely psychological and spiritual approach to stop overeating.
Your psychology is an important tool for ending compulsive eating and feeling normal around food again.
A great way to use your psychology poorly is to tell yourself that carbs, sugar, and “junk food” are off limits. Why? Because the moment you make yummy foods off limits, your brain starts to REALLY want those very foods!
Let’s see if you’re in good company — raise your hand if:
- If you’ve ever ended up binge eating carbs after a low-carb diet? *raises hand*
- If you’ve ever eaten tons of cookies after you told yourself you’d never eat sugar ever again? *raises hand*
- If you’ve ever binged on a Friday night after eating “on track” Monday-Thursday? *raises hand*
It’s important to know that this is not a sign of weakness or low willpower. On the contrary, I think that most people that struggle with overeating often have enormous willpower! We’re just using our psychology all wrong.
It’s only when we give ourselves Permission to Eat that we can give ourselves Permission NOT to Eat. It’s only when the sugar and carbs are allowed that we stop obsessing over them and, as a result, stop binge eating them.
This may bring up fears of gaining weight, and that’s what the Psycho-Spiritual Eating Guidelines are for.
3. Add some joy to your daily life (when possible)
Another reason why we may feel obsessed around food is because food might be the only source of joy we have in our lives. And humans need joy. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a need-to-have.
When we aren’t getting enough joy from our lives, we will compulsively seek joy from food. It’s called hedonic eating.
The path out of this type of compulsive eating is to add joy to your life that isn’t food. It’s a simple and profound solution.
4. Pursue your life purpose, especially if it scares you!
Life purpose plays a crucial role in ending food obsession.
To understand how, we need to talk about the root of self-sabotage in relation to weight loss and dieting.
Self-sabotage occurs when we are somehow getting a greater Positive Benefit from struggling with food than from being without the struggle.
Read that again. Because I know it can seem like there’s seriously no possible way that feeling obsessed over food could be doing something positive, but when it’s a recurring pattern, there usually is.
But how can you discover your Positive Benefit?
Generally speaking, I know of four methods: journaling, psychotherapy, coaching, and my workbook on self-sabotage.
It’s designed specifically to help you discover your “positive benefits” and why you may self-sabotage. And it’s aptly titled Why We Do the Things We Do:
5. Develop the most essential skill for Psycho-Spiritual Wellness
Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to add joy to our lives for various reasons (kids, careers, global economic shutdowns).
When joy isn’t accessible, it does not mean you’re forced to feel obsessed over food. This is where you get to develop and demonstrate your grit.
One tool for this is the Stop, Drop, & Feel method to stop binge eating. It involves making space for the uncomfortable feelings that subconsciously drive the desire to eat when we aren’t hungry.
When we do this, we also develop “emotional tolerance” in the process. Both of these things help drain the compulsion out of compulsive eating.
To understand this tool, check out my old YouTube video:
I also just launched a masterclass on the Stop, Drop, & Feel because it’s the most important tool in the toolbox. When used effectively, it can stop a binge in its tracks. And I get a lot of questions about it, which are all answered in the masterclass.
Stop Feeling Obsessed Over Food & Take Back Your Life
Usually when we feel obsessed over food, it’s because we’re trying too hard to control our diet or lose weight.
And while I’m not asking you to give up the desire to lose weight, I think you can actually get there faster by giving up dieting and focusing on your psychology instead. For instance, by adding more joy to your life and by pursuing your life purpose.
If you’re picking up what I’m putting down, then I know you’ll love my free ebook on eating psychology, which you can download for free below: (You can literally pick up what I’m putting down.)