I coached a mom last week.
She told me she binges when she’s doing something for her children.
Especially when it’s unplanned or unexpected.
Like when they forget their lunch and she drives it to them, eating cookies all the way.
Or when they tell her they need help with a project that’s due tomorrow, and she sits at the table with her child, and a plate full of nachos.
I was curious about the thinking that led to her bingeing.
We discovered that she was thinking “I shouldn’t have to do this”.
Notice her language – have to do it.
Take a moment here – what emotion comes up for you when you think that you have to do something?
For me, instant rebelliousness.
Problem is, when emotional eaters feel irritated or rebellious, we often turn to a bag of chips especially if we don’t want to express our irritation or rebelliousness.
I have another option for you.
You don’t have to express it and you don’t have to eat it.
You can eliminate it.
Here’s how: Stop pretending that you have to do it (whatever your it may be).
In my client’s case, she doesn’t have to take her kids’ lunch when they forget it if she doesn’t want to.
She doesn’t even have to make her kids lunch if she doesn’t want to.
She was quite shocked when I told her this.
She had so many reasons why she has to do it.
“They’ll have nothing to eat, and they’ll be hungry, and they won’t be able to concentrate, and the teachers will think badly of me”.
I agreed with her that all of these were possible outcomes.
And still, she could choose not to do it.
I suggested to her that maybe she’s doing it because she wants to?
She considered this for a second.
And totally agreed with me.
She told me that she always wished for a mother who would bring her lunch, and help her with her projects, and that she saw this as a way of expressing her love for her children. She wants them to be well fed.
She wants them to know that she’s here to help with homework.
She wants to express her love for them in these ways.
I asked her how that felt.
She softened completely.
I asked her how likely she’d be to binge when she was thinking about loving her children. It seemed like a faraway, unnecessary option.
So this is your third possibility: Tell yourself the truth.
You absolutely don’t have to do anything.
Yes, there will be consequences if you don’t – you may lose your job, or your kids may go hungry.
But there are consequences either way, right?
And when you find the reason you are choosing to do it
(either because you want to do it, or because you want the result it will bring you),
then you’re probably going to feel more neutral about it,
and bingeing is far less likely when you’re feeling neutral than when you’re feeling rebellious or irritated.
I was thinking about this yesterday, on my way to school with forgotten gloves and hats.
I smiled when I got the call, and felt happy as I got in the car.
Here’s what I’m thinking:
“I love talking to my (ten year old) baby unexpectedly in the middle of the day”
“I’m so grateful for a life where I can do this (often!!)”
“I love squeezing my babies in the middle of the day”
“I love love love visiting the sacred space that is my kids school”
I know I don’t have to do it.
And they know that if I’m fully booked, I can’t.
And I also know that it may not be the best thing for them to keep doing it.
And above all this I know –
that I’m doing it because I really want to do it and that thought fills me up completely.
No space left for unwanted food here.