When you look up overeating online, these synonyms come up:
Eat too much, be greedy, gorge (oneself), and overindulge (oneself)
It is no wonder people who struggle with their weight have low self-esteem, feel weak, and believe life will get better if and when they get thin. The truth is overeating is more subtle, harder to explain, and has little to do with being greedy. A person who overeats is not selfish. They usually give so much to others and rarely have energy left for their own needs. A person who overeats doesn’t eat a box of cookies and then think about how happy they are no one else will get them. They didn’t even taste or enjoy the cookies. After the first one it was more of a compulsive, punishing behavior not initiated by pleasure. Society needs to stop viewing overeating as an indulgent greedy behavior. We need to lift people up who struggle with food and weight. They need love not judgment.
Working with thousands of women I have seen and heard inner thoughts many don’t want to say out loud. They feel judged so they don’t talk about their struggles unless it is to justify they are trying. Here are 17 insights into the mind of an overeater so you can see that “gorge oneself” is not even close to describing what a person who struggles with overeating is about.
- When offered a sweet treat they automatically say yes without asking if they truly want it because of worry if they say no then it will be gone if they change their mind.
- When they feel in control they restrict and eat super healthy because they want to change.
- They don’t believe they can change so skipping meals or restricting helps make up for the future food they know will be eaten in excess.
- After a meal, the guilt over how they ate feels like the only thing to focus on and they swear over and over next time will be better.
- They spend the whole day obsessing about food and fighting cravings until the only moment of peace is when they give in and eat.
- A family holiday doesn’t mean peace and love, it means stressing over finding something to wear that feels comfortable and how they are going to manage food.
- They already feel so stressed out and overwhelmed at life, this is just another thing they think they fail at.
- They consider themselves all or nothing people so there is no middle ground between dieting and overeating.
- They believe they have no time and this is just another thing on their plate to address.
- They attach more importance to how they look then how they feel which only makes the yo-yo dieting cycle harder to break.
- They are the most caring people and are always willing to give all of themselves to others.
- They think everyone judges them but they are truly their own worst critics.
- They feel disconnected from their body and don’t even know what they want or like anymore because they are so used to listening to outside sources telling them what to do.
- They don’t make time for themselves to do things that help them relax or make them smile because of the guilt that they should be checking things off the To Do list.
- They love to make people feel special but struggle to let themselves be the center of attention.
- They think they are weak and without the willpower to succeed but they are stronger and braver then they know.
- They rarely end a meal with food on the plate unless their stomach is hurting. Throwing some food out when they could eat more feels hard between not wanting to waste food and feeling sad a meal is over.
Everyone struggles with something. For an overeater their struggle is more public because it often leads to excess weight and we all have to eat multiple times of day so they can’t abstain. Can you imagine if your failing marriage or bad finances were something people saw everyday? Empathy goes a long way with any problem and overeating is no different.
If you struggle with food and weight please know this: You are beautiful, smart, caring, loving, generous, and perfectly imperfect. We know once you see what we see that food will lose its power. Don’t give up on yourself. It is never too late to look at life and yourself differently.