All too often, we overeat because we are sacrificing our bodies for the greater good.
You overeat because you have poor boundaries at work. You pick up the slack for others and put in more hours, which may involve skipping lunch and eating while distracted at your (work from home) desk. It may also involve gorging on food once you’re done for the day and completely wiped out. (This would count as hedonic eating, btw!)
Or you overeat because you have poor boundaries with your family. It can be wayyy too easy to sacrifice your bodies for your children. You may go too long without eating because you are busy caretaking; and you end up eating Dino Nuggets for dinner because it’s what’s available; and then, as a consequence, you end up binge eating everything else late at night once the kids are in bed and you FINALLY have a minute to yourself…
And because you’re exhausted, it’s too much to try and use the Stop, Drop, & Feel instead of throwing yourself into food. (Unless, of course, you’ve undereaten, in which case, “binge eating everything else late at night” is really just EATING.)
It can look like shoveling snacks before running off to the kids’ swim lesson, because you feel way too anxious if you’re not there (hello, water), and even though you’re dead tired and it’s okay if Susanna skips a week, you’re afraid of being a horrible mother if that one swim lesson was the one that mattered…
And if this sounds dramatic, it’s because most of us are a little dramatic around food. Why?
BECAUSE WE ALL FEEL LIKE HORRIBLE PEOPLE.
Not everyone, of course. The players and narcissists of the world don’t feel horrible. But it’s you and I, the heart-centered overeaters, that feel like horrible people so often. Why?!?!
Oh, because we try really hard to please everyone, and that comes with consequences.
Maybe our standards are too high. Maybe we’re holding ourselves up to an unreal standard.
As Geneen Roth always says, “the way we eat is the way we live.” Sometimes our eating habits are a reflection of being way too hard on ourselves; of holding ourselves up to an enormous standard; and of never giving ourselves permission to disappoint someone EVEN IF IT’S TO HONOR OUR BODIES in the form of rest.
Stop putting yourself last. Stop sacrificing your BODY for the happiness and pleasure of others. Be willing to disappoint someone if you’re dead tired and have zero energy to dedicate to something. Look at your values and commit to what makes the most sense. (For example, perfect attendance at swim, or your health?)
Do you value overworking? Some of us do! And we need to work around it.
Do you value family time? Many of us do! And we need to balance other activities to make room for it.
Do you value putting your health first? Many of us wish we did! And that choice is ours.
Sit down and write it down! This is why workbooks are magic. Clarity comes from putting pen to paper.
And if you have zero time for this, figure out where you need better boundaries (which usually requires upsetting someone). Because not having time is a clear sign of poor boundaries. (Unless you’re a single working mother taking care of small children, in which case, I bow down and salute you.)
This is not a win-win situation. This is a win-lose-win situation. A win for your body, a loss for someone else (a coworker, a kid, a spouse), and a win for everyone in the grand scheme of things — because you’ll have far more health and happiness to share in the end if you continue to honor your body.
Also, when I say “a loss for someone else” I’m talking about REALLY SMALL LOSSES. We think the world will end if we say no to the smallest thing. That’s just your perfectionist, people-pleasing, inner critic getting in the way. Let’s shake her loose, shall we?!
You’re NOT a horrible person if you take some time for yourself.
YOU’RE NOT A HORRIBLE PERSON. For Pete’s sake. You’re probably one of the really, really good ones.
So, put yourself first sometimes.
You deserve it. You need it. Not just for your health, but because we all need you to in the grand scheme of things.