How to Handle Urges to Overeat

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Last week I talked about how desire makes losing weight difficult. This week I want to focus on how to handle the urges that come up when we decide on a healthy eating plan. There are 3 ways to handle an urge:

  1. Resist it – Using willpower which is temporary or white-knuckling it which creates more desire (distracting yourself, avoiding parties, etc.)
  2. Give in to it – Answer the urge and create more desire
  3. Allow it – Don’t give in to urge, just allow the discomfort 

It is easy to not answer the urge which means not putting food in your mouth. The hard part is all the drama your brain creates when you don’t do it such as:

I deserve this

One won’t hurt

Who cares

I’ll start tomorrow

That looks good

I want it

I need it

I had a stressful day

I don’t want to offend whoever made this by not eating it

I’m bored

Sound familiar? These are all thoughts and completely optional. So how do you deal with all this drama in your brain and feeling restless and uncomfortable? 

  • By first observing all the thoughts you are having about not eating a certain food, then taking some deep breaths and telling yourself that you can allow the discomfort, it cannot hurt you, and it will pass. 
  • Notice any other emotion coming up such as sadness, stress, anxiety, anger, etc.  Emotions are created in our brain in response to a thought and then we feel it as sensations in our body. 
  • For example, I often feel stress as a peach pit sitting in my gut, it feels hard and lumpy. When I am anxious, it feels like a flitting butterfly all over my chest and abdomen or heaviness in my chest. 
  • The goal is to feel your emotions instead of eating them. 
  • It can take allowing up to 100 urges to decrease the desire we feel for eating concentrated sugar and flour or food off our eating plan. It helps to write them down. You may think that is a lot of urges but think of how often we are bombarded with offers of food and you can get through 100 urges in a matter of 2-4 weeks. 
  • The trick is to be willing to allow the urge and realize that the worst thing that can happen is you allow yourself to feel an emotion.

By getting through the 100 urges, you are decreasing your desire for foods that are not serving your body. Then when you are not thinking about food so much and not spending so much time and energy overeating, you will have a lot more time on your hands. 

Think about what you want to use your desire to create and direct your energy there instead of on food. It is a game changer.

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