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Crazy Eating: How to Break a Habit & Stop Overeating

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What's Wrong with All-on-Nothing Thinking?

Most of us, myself included, try to change our habits by simply deciding to change and then waiting to see what happens. This rarely works for two reasons: 1) there is no plan, and 2) there is no plan.

You Need a Plan

Have you ever accomplished a goal without a set of steps towards its achievement? Maybe if you've won a lottery, but regular folk, like you and me, may find that a systematic approach works better. What won't work is simply saying, "I'm not going to do that anymore." Ha, like fun you won't. Your brain is constantly striving to provide you with what you tell it you want. If you say, "I won't eat ice cream," but you really do want ice cream, then your brain isn't fooled. It will make every effort to get you some ice cream.

That's simply the way we are wired, but you can short-circuit that wiring by sending your brain a different message.

End Crazy Eating Habits: Help I Can't Stop Eating Ice Cream

Of course you change overeating habits by first changing the belief that you can't stop eating ice cream. It's a process. Here's how I change habits by first creating ...

My Plan: Addicted to Nuts

Janet (name changed) came to me with only one "issue." She said she was addicted to mixed nuts and couldn't help but eat a whole jar every single day. (Substitute your favorite food in this example). Since nuts are so high in calories, I knew this one change would help her to release 15 pounds or more, so here is what we did.

First I had Janet keep a food diary for one week, with a goal of discovering her triggers for nuts, if any, and also determining how often she really wanted to eat them. When we started she said, "Oh, that'll be easy! I want them all the time," but when she returned after one week she said, "It was amazing, but there really were very specific times when I wanted them."

She discovered that on Mondays and Tuesdays while she ate them (out of habit), she didn't really seem to have the same frantic desire. She said, perhaps it was because she'd already bought seven jars on Sunday (it's our nature to try to figure it all out, isn't it?). On Wednesday she started to think about the nuts while at work, "I sometimes get bored at work, and start to daydream about going home and what I'll do that night." Thinking about a pleasurable activity to come was one way Janet escaped boredom, while at the same time she was setting herself up for a full-blown craving that night. What you put your attention on, you'll achieve, and she was achieving her goal of eating nuts quite easily.

By Thursday, she noticed she didn't start to think about nuts as early, probably because she attended a meeting every Thursday that lasted from morning until noon and she was too busy with other things. She also met with employees and did more problem solving on Thursdays which left her anxious, in fact, she started to nibble between meetings right at her desk with the jar of nuts she kept handy.

Fridays were another story entirely and this was what surprised her. Janet and her husband had started a tradition of dinner-and-a-movie the first Friday of every month. Here they would wine and dine, pretend they were dating and generally have a good time together. She noticed on that Friday (a date night) she thought about her "date" and not about nuts at all. Interestingly she was beginning to see the pattern, when she was busy or occupied or doing things she enjoyed she didn't even think about eating those nuts, but when she was bored or anxious, thoughts quickly turned to her favorite treat.

Saturdays and Sundays Janet puttered around the house. She didn't have children and her husband worked weekends so she was able to do what she wanted, but she found most often that she'd lay on the couch reading magazines and nibbling most the day, while it didn't have to be nuts, that was what she ate most often. She didn't think there was any particular reason for eating while reading except that she'd done it for so long that it was now a habit, and wouldn't be easy to change.

Which Habits to Change First

Now she had a list and she rated the intensity of which days were the easiest (low cravings) to the greatest (high cravings):

Day Probability

Yes, doing this may take a little time and effort. Big deal! How long have you struggled with your weight up until now? Decide if you are willing to do what it takes, and IF that answer is YES, read on ...

Monday Low
Tuesday Low
Wednesday High (daydreaming about them)
Thursday High (daytime nibbling)
Friday Low (night out with husband)
Saturday High
Sunday High

Choose One Day or One Eating Event to Modify

Step 1: Pick one thing. Don't try to tackle it all at once. I've written about how I did this with my once-a-week cheeseburger and fries habit which at one point I would have said I could never change, but today if I have a burger and fries a couple of times a year, it seems like a lot. I couldn't even drive past the Dairy Queen without starting to crave my weekly burger (tomorrow I'm going to have ...), but not any more. That old association is simply gone. This can work for you too.

This method is included in detail in Session 2, Patterns and Habits, of the One More Bite 8-Week Workshop. So what happened with Janet? ...

Start with the Easiest Habits

Step 2: Rate the events based on most probable to least likely, in other words, which event would be the most difficult for you to change, and which would be the easiest. Another mistake we make is to try to change our most firmly ingrained habits first - better to work on the easily changed first. Small successes build on each other until the more difficult become the easiest themselves.

Janet decided to work on Monday first. She didn't really think about eating nuts on Mondays anyway, it was just something she did out of habit, so for week one she decided she would simply not eat nuts on Monday nights.

She used EFT for any desire as it came up, because though she didn't think about it in advance, as soon as she sat down on the couch, the idea of eating nuts came to her, and she felt a desire to get up and go get the jar. This time (and every time thereafter that night), she first did a round of EFT on that desire, "Even though I really want to eat some nuts, I deeply and completely accept myself, and I choose to wait." She also had decided that this Monday she was simply going to wait out the cravings, so no matter how intense they became, she told herself, "I can have them tomorrow. Today I'm going to wait." (She reported they never really got intense anyway).

Knowing she wasn't giving them up forever made it much less difficult to ride it out that first Monday, and Janet called me Tuesday morning laughing, "I couldn't believe how easy it was." That made week one a success all ready, no matter what else transpired. Since Monday was so easy, and Tuesday was a similar situation, she decided to also tackle Tuesday, knowing, if she faltered, she was still a success, because she followed through on Monday.

You could work first on a Wednesday habit, that doesn't make the process any different. Just make your plan and follow-through.

Tuesday was a repeat of Monday, and though she never ate any nuts, by Wednesday, she was starting to notice the strong desire. Wednesday had been a day of high desire all along, and she decided to let it go - in other words she wasn't going to deal with Wednesday's just now, but go ahead and enjoy her habit. Eventually maybe she'd tackle Wednesday. In this manner you work yourself from a daily habit, to a few days a week habit, to a once a month habit, and eventually to no habit at all, but rather eating something you enjoy because you choose to enjoy it.

Rinse Repeat

Step 3, Keep doing what's working. For some it will take longer, and others it will go quickly, but no matter how long it takes, if you make a plan, and then stick to that plan, you'll find success. You'll also want to consider what you'll do instead.

For instance, simply sitting in the same place and doing the same thing often leads to the same outcome. Stand up, stamp your feet, move around (try this next time you're watching TV and notice the desire for food). When the first thoughts of eating pop into your mind (and you know you're not hungry of course), jump up - do something different. Anything at all will shake up the pattern. Couple this with EFT and you've got a winning plan.

Eventually Janet worked through the rest of the week, taking it one day at a time. After six weeks she said that she rarely ate nuts during the week at all, and her desire was changing somewhat on the weekends without her consciously putting effort on it. She said, "I'm only buying two jars of nuts a week now, down from seven, if you can believe it. That's saving me some money too, which is nice." Expect some of your food habits to take time to change, while others will be zapped quite easily.

This week, make your list of what you do most often and when. If you're telling yourself, "That won't work for me. I could never do that." Then fine. For you this isn't a good plan. What is? Think about it. What might work better for you? Can you modify this idea? What if you used EFT on the idea that EFT won't work for you, "Even though I can't do this and I don't think it will work anyway, I deeply and completely accept myself." "Even though I like all these ideas, but I know nothing will work for me, I deeply and completely accept myself."

Use these tools and you may find yourself surprised at the result. Here are recent comments from a workshop participants:

"What you wrote is what I was looking for. :) I think I just have to literally stop myself in those times and make myself do EFT. I really wanted that chocolate... and I didn't want to find out that I wasn't hungry at all (I know I wasn't) and therefore, didn't need to eat the chocolate. EFT would have been a barrier to me getting what I wanted in an impulsive moment :) EFT works if you work! That's my mantra to myself."

"I have been using EFT at least 3 times a day and more like 5 or 6 most days. I am going to work on drinking more water for another week and then tackle a bigger vice: double cheeseburgers and fries (although I have only had one of those combos since I began the program... a major victory in my book for me!)."

Read my weight loss articles - you'll find lots of ideas & suggestions. Learn to use EFT. Get The Daily Bites for examples of how to use EFT for weight loss. Take it one day at a time, one bite at a time.

You may not need to lose weight specifically, but if you have issues with food that you'd like to resolve, learn to use EFT and NLP methods. You can learn to remove your obstacles to feeling healthy and in charge of your own life. Look here to see if a Weight Loss Coach is right for you.


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Kathryn Martyn M.NLP
Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP EFT Weight Loss Coach
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