Q: “My binges have almost completely stopped. But I still find myself overeating even when I know I’m full. I also feel like I have to have something sweet every night, even when I’m full after dinner and don’t even necessarily want a dessert. Do you have any advice on how I should deal with this?”
A: What a great question! I have a few thoughts… I’ll share those thoughts with you in three “steps” so that this post is easy for you to navigate. When you’re done reading, leave a comment! Let me know what you thought and what you took away from this post.
Step #1: Remove judgements
Never judge yourself for wanting something sweet or eating past your fullness. Especially if you’ve just started eating intuitively, or you’re still in the first two years, definitely don’t judge yourself. You’re figuring this all out – you’re learning to trust yourself and your desires again.
You’re coming out of a long season of deprivation and need to be able to trust that all foods are allowed. If you’ve been following me since 2011 you know that I used to have nightly “petite treats” where I planned on having dessert every night in the beginning. I had to build up this trust.
You may find yourself going through seasons where certain cravings are higher than others, too. This is totally normal. For example…
You go through a season where you want to eat out a lot. Normal.
You go through a season where you love fresh foods. Normal.
You go through a season where you’re nightly wanting frozen yogurt. Normal. How many times have I been there? Ha!
You go through a season where you don’t want to touch fruit. Normal. Me now!
You go through a season where you could eat burritos everyday. Normal.
Just trust these funky-feeling seasons and go with them. Listen, I know they feel weird and you feel insecure about them in the moment, but these seasons will help you to trust yourself more as over time as you that the cravings really do come to an go. This is totally okay and totally normal.
Sweets are not bad. Sugar is not bad. If you’re going to eat it, you may as well find a way to really enjoy it and allow it to be special – at least, that’s my belief. Permission, permission, permission. Find ways of having your treat that feel special and honoring to your body. Go buy a cute new bowl for your ice cream.
Step #2: Assess the evening
There may be obstacles in your routine or life that cause you to want to eat, just because. Here are a few examples that I’ve worked with my clients on:
- Watching TV with commercials – Commercials, especially for food, are made to make you crave. If you’re watching TV and you notice yourself feeling antsy and wanting food. Just be mindful and aware. This may just the commercials/TV causing this.
- Staying awake when you’re tired out of habit – I used to stay up until 10:00 or later, out of habit. I considered 10:00 PM my “bedtime” and so I’d keep doing stuff until 10:00 PM got closer. Now, I know a lot of you stay up much later – ha! – however, I am naturally an early bird. When I’m home and have nowhere to be (I rarely rarely plan events at night) I love getting in my PJ’s right after dinner, watching a movie or show, and climbing into bed around 7:30 or 8:00. I know, I know… this might be really early for some of you, but consider what time you want to go to bed and then try allowing yourself to get in bed around that time (even if you want to read for a while). See how it goes.
- Feeling overwhelmed by your surroundings – Are you overwhelmed by your surroundings? Is there a lot going on around you? A lot to clean? A lot of “to-do’s” or “I should be doing’s” laying around your house? Even if it’s an unfinished craft project or a stack of books you feel you “should” read, are there things laying around reminding you of unfinished business? That’s no way to relax. Find a home for these things and put them out of sight. You’ll work on them or read them when you actually need or want to. Don’t let them be a reminder of things to do.
- Thinking about the next day and feeling stressed – Sometimes we get anxious or stressed about the next day. Do what you can to help yourself relax. Make some tea, take a hot shower, watch something funny on TV, talk to someone, light a candle, play soft music. You have to help yourself unwind. And sometimes you just need something to change your focus a bit. Perhaps it’s time for a funny/feel-good movie!
Here are a few things that have hugely helped me to have happier and more fulfilling evenings, which in turn I find helps me to crave/think of food (outside of hunger) much less:
- Closing up shop in my office before I wrap up work – I clear off my desk, put away papers, shut down my computer, close my planner and put everything back in it’s place. This way, I feel fully “done” for the day and when I walk into my office in the morning it feels fresh.
- Planning my next day on paper – I look at my calendar, I write down any to-do’s for the next day, and I make myself any notes of things I want to remember. This allows me to get all of those to-do’s out of my brain and onto paper. It allows me to say “today is done and tomorrow is set up.” Such a good feeling (I talk about this more in my eBook).
- Setting up the night before – Before I got to bed there are a few things that I love to have done: I like my house to be picked up (pillows fluffed, blankets folded, cups put away, etc), my coffee pot set for the next morning, my quiet time basket in place, and the dishes totally washed and put away. This way, when I wake up the house is nice and fresh. It starts my day off on a great note. It’s basically just removing the obstacle of overwhelm for me.
These are all things that I have found to help me feel my happiest, most organized, and put together. Which in turn makes for a much more peaceful me. None of these things take me more than 10 minutes.
Think of the things you could to do to help remove overwhelm from your life.
- What are the main things that cause you stress or unsettledness at night? How could they be different?
- What do you want to see when you wake up? How can you make that happen?
- How do you want to feel when you wake up? What can you do the night before to set that up?
If you’ve noticed, this post has been a little bit about food but mostly about taking care of yourself and setting your future self up for success. That’s because…
When we care for ourselves differently, we act differently toward food. It’s often the way we care for ourselves that needs improving.
Step #3: Recommit to yourself
Finally, the last point that I’d like to make is recommitting to stopping when you’re full…
I go through times myself where I notice that I’ve been consistently eating past my fullness. It happens! Here’s what I do… I simply recognize that I’ve been doing this and that although it’s really easy to do, it doesn’t make me feel good.
Once I’ve recognized that I don’t really like eating past fullness (in the moment we’re usually just too compelled to satisfy that desire to keep eating) I commit to noticing when I’m full at my very next meal and I choose to stop there.
When I’ve done this once it more easily rolls over into the next meal, and the next meal, and the next. There’s no pressure to get it right. If I do overeat, there’s no shame. It’s totally understandable to think something tastes delicious and to want to continue enjoying it.
It’s just that when we do that repeatedly we notice that it really isn’t making us feel great, and then we can make a change with adding in more conscious eating.
I want to hear from you!
What are your thoughts on this? What parts of my answer to this question are the most helpful for you? Which pieces of this post will you take into consideration for your own life? What do you want your evenings to look like? How about your mornings?
If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in my next VIP Q+A please do so in the comments!