3 Questions To Ask Yourself After You Overeat

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3 Questions To Ask YourselfIf you’ve read this blog in the past, you’ll know that I view many of the situations our culture terms “failures” as absolutely fantastic opportunities.

Situations where we have had an outcome opposite to the one we want are chock-a-block full of data.

If, following a “failure”, we put our analyzing hats on, we can discern patterns and triggers that lead to the unwanted outcome. We can then predict our behavior ahead of time based on this information and devise strategies to encourage, or even force, different behavior in future.

My experience

I work at home, and late morning, it starts.

Every time the words don’t come. Or I have a task to do that I don’t enjoy. Or I’m bored or lonely.

I’m there.

At the fridge.

If nothing entices me, I move a couple of feet over to the pantry.

My final attempt at finding the treasure is to scan the house with my mind, retrieving images of all the places I store food around our home.

Often, I go back to my desk empty-handed because I just don’t keep the kinds of food I’m looking for (ice cream, cookies, chocolate) in our house.

But if something has snuck in, or I’ve just made something paleo-yummy like my current favorites, Carrot Raisin Muffins from The Paleo Approach Cookbook, I will fall into them face first.

It’s so annoying

And utterly predictable.

It happens over and over again.

So I take steps.

Going for a walk works but requires me to take initiative that I can easily talk myself out of.

Inviting a friend over for a paleo lunch works much better. If we walk first, it’s all gravy. This works because our date is set up ahead of time, I’ve got something to look forward to and it breaks the monotony of hours and hours at home alone with nothing but a long to-do list to keep me company.

However, once my friend is gone, I have a hard time motivating myself back down to work, sooooo….

…my third strategy is to go to our local library. There is no food there.

The hassle of getting up packing away my laptop and walking to the nearest store is way too much to do. And the ambience of a quiet, but not silent, public place makes me tremendously productive.

It occurred to me one day that I didn’t have these recurrent “munchies” when I worked in an office (this was years ago before offices came with hot and cold running food). There was no opportunity, no desire.

Brain food, instead

Now I use all three strategies on different days as necessary. The variety seems to help my brain make good choices.

I worked all this out from noticing my behavior – the behavior I wanted more of, and the behavior I wanted to chase away with a big stick. This could work for you.

It is not your fault

Overeating is not a character flaw. Know that beating the overeating habit is a learning process and is due to the systems we have in place in our lives. If eating when you are not hungry happens in response to a particular situation, look at the things that are going on in your life that are triggering the behavior and deal with those because the problem is always upstream somewhere in your life.

Questions to ask yourself:

Is this behavior occurring because you are lonely?
Pick up the phone or even better anticipate the loneliness and schedule regular activities with friends. I work at home but do activities nearly every day with friends to combat the boredom and loneliness that can cause me to head to the fridge.
 
Are you getting enough to eat?
We are so mired in our dieting, low-fat, low-carb lifestyle as a culture that we are often undernourished. Overeating is our body’s way of dealing with that. You may need more quantity, or more quality food than you’ve eaten in the past few hours. Our body will often go for quick energy, carbs, sugar and fat in these instances, hence the pull of ice cream and cookies. Eating safe starches is often the way out of depressive and energy issues but is the antithesis of our dieting culture.
 
Are you having enough fun in your life? Are you overworked? In a job you dislike? When was the last time you treated yourself? Do you go to sleep looking forward to the next day?
I’ll never forget the story of a homeschooling mother of 12 who lost 100 pounds (not paleo, but still pretty impressive). Before she lost the weight her husband made a comment about her eating and her response was – “But that’s when I have fun! When else do I get to have any fun?” I think that was a very insightful comment. I’ve thought about it a lot. 
 
If we are overeating, we are not happy. Changes need to be made!
 
The next step is always, once the patterns and triggers have been identified, to think of strategies to overcome them. Think of situations that worked in the past or use your answers above to stimulate ideas that will work to defeat the underlying issue.
 
My main point is that you are not the problem but you have a problem with the systems in your life. Read The Primal Connection by Mark Sisson can shed some light on how we are meant to live and therefore, how far we’ve come. I hope this has given you food for thought.
 
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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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