“Overeating,” Part III: Practice Thankfulness

     Several weeks ago, I envisioned this blog post to be a little different. I thought I would share some practical tips for conquering any remaining problematic overeating, after binge eating stops.  I likely will still do that at some point (although I’ve already addressed the issue a bit in the Non-Hungry Cravings post, and my focus is primarily on helping people stop binge eating – not perfect their eating habits), but this week I was inspired to take this post in a new direction.
     “Inspired” is the wrong word….   
     I have been heartbroken seeing the events in the Philippines the past week, following the devastating typhoon. 
     I truly hope no one takes this post the wrong way (I am not trying to minimize your problems at all);  but, it simply felt wrong for me to write about conquering overeating, while so many victims of the storm were and still are starving as they wait for aid. Those of you who read my book know that my family was affected by hurricane Katrina in 2005, so this is close to my heart.
     I took a trip to the grocery store today – 4 kids in tow – and filled up my cart with a renewed sense of thankfulness for the food we have.  I’ve gotten into a bit of a funk lately in regards to feeding my kids, worrying about some of the pesticides/toxins/GMOs..etc. that’s in the food we buy. There is a great deal of concerning information out there about conventional foods, and we rarely buy organic because it’s just not financially feasible for our family of 6 right now. But, today in the store, I didn’t have any of those worrisome thoughts as I pulled our  non-organic whole milk off the shelf.  I felt only grateful that I could give my kids something sustaining to drink.         
     It immediately occurred to me that cultivating a sense of thankfulness could be useful for those struggling with overeating. Most people with eating disorders have an antagonistic relationship with food, which only makes matters worse. They often lose the deep sense of gratitude for nourishment. I admit, before this week, I was letting those health concerns about food prevent me from truly appreciating what I have as well.  
     As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am suggesting that as you eat your meals and snacks, try to shift your focus to gratitude when you catch yourself worrying  about overeating.  Try to remember how fortunate you are that you can nourish your body, feel satisfied; and then have more food available the next time you are hungry.  A mindset of being thankful for food in the present, while also being thankful for future food could curb the desire to eat too much right now.  If you allow yourself to feel deeply grateful that food will be there for you at your next meal or snack, you will be more likely to stop eating when you are comfortably full.     
     Trying to be more thankful doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about having plentiful food when others have little.  I am simply recommending that when you begin to worry about eating too much of this or that, or when you feel a little too full after a meal; you could try gently reminding yourself that you are fortunate to be able to nourish your body, even if you don’t always do it perfectly.  And be thankful that you’ll have tomorrow to try again.  
     Gratitude can bring you peace in so many aspects of your life and your relationships, including your relationship with food.  


6 thoughts on ““Overeating,” Part III: Practice Thankfulness

  1. Thank you Kathryn. I completely agree. You have a wonderful skill in writing so clearly about what are important kind of ‘moral’ issues in a completely non-judgemental way. Most of us couldn’t write about this without straying to the kind of ‘how stupid are these wealthy nations with their eating problems’ territory. I am so happy to have discovered your book in my 50s, finally finding a solution and being very thankful for that as well.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m glad to hear my book was helpful to you. I wish you all the best!

  2. Kathryn,

    I wanted to thank you for your wonderful booked. You helped me have the courage to overcome years and years of eating disorder baggage. I cant tell you what a dark, dark place I was, feeling hopeless, where my eating disorder controlled my life. Countless memories flash before me on the hardships I faced. The times I called in sick because of a binge/purge the night before, the parties I flaked on because I didnt want to be near temptations, even though I would end of staying home and binging anyway. Now, I have been binge/purge free for almost 6 months and have lost the weight the right way from all the binging over the years. I now stick to a clean eating diet. I follow this as it helps me, but I dont count calories because I know that is a set back for me, and I refrain from the foods that were a problem for me (at least for now, until I know I am strong enough). I loved your book and feel the freedom again. Food doesnt rule my life, and I eat guilt free. On christmas, I treated myself, but didnt have that immediate reaction, “when I get home, I am going to binge” and spin out of control. I feel amazing! Thanks so much!

    1. Wow, you are amazing! Congrats on taking control and overcoming your bulimia. Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience; it means a lot to me. I hope you are enjoying your binge-free life:-) I wish you all the best in the future.

  3. Dear katheyn please help me. I am not able to stop eating……… i feel that my hands are following my lower brain……. i dunno wats going on….. i was fine for 5 days….. now i am just not able to disconnect those thoughts from myself….. those thoughts feel so real….. those thoughts are using the pronoun ‘i’ not ‘you’ or ‘we’. I am eating soooooooooo much…… i feel i am going to burst……. i dont want to waste time like this…… i have my exams going on…… i want to study….please give some suggestions

    1. I’m sorry you are struggling. To start, read the second question in the FAQ section of my website, which addresses binge eating after short time being binge-free. This is really common, and getting upset about it or allowing yourself to feel hopeless isn’t going to be helpful. Viewing the urges as neurological junk is something that is new to you, and acting on one urge doesn’t mean you are back to square one. You can move forward despite your setback. You may also want to see the blog post “Do You Truly Want to Quit” http://brainoverbinge.com/?p=198 which address feeling like “you” want to binge. The pronoun thing can be a useful trick for some people, but remember that any thought encouraging binge eating is from the lower brain, no matter how much it sounds like “you.”

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