Motherhood can be quite unpredictable. Some days we feel like a total rockstar and other days it can feel like we are dropping every ball that comes our way. Finding time and energy to destress from it all can seem hard. Sometimes we may be grasping for just a moment of relief from our stress.
Eating, especially something that tastes delicious, activates our parasympathetic nervous system (AKA rest and digest mode) and temporarily turns off the stress response in the brain.
When we are in an overwhelming state of stress, reaching for food may be the only way to get some much-needed relief.
Sometimes stress may actually have nothing to do with why we can’t stop eating. It could just be eating patterns we’ve developed. But in most cases though there is an element of food restriction that is driving our brain to keep desiring food past the point of satiety.
Restriction can show up in so many ways. There is the obvious, which is simply not eating enough food. But it can also show up as future restrictions. This is where you’re telling yourself that tomorrow you’re going to eat “better”. This just makes you want to eat more in the moment because the brain thinks it’s not going to get it again.
So what can you do if you feel like you can’t stop eating?
1- Give yourself some grace. Sometimes food is the only thing we can grab onto when we are in dire need of dialing down our fight/flight mode and turning up our rest/digest response. Work on eliminating guilt. Diet culture is constantly sending us messages that make us want to feel guilty for eating. Challenge those messages.
2- Make sure to fuel your body on a regular basis with satisfying foods. If you wait until you’re starving to eat you’ll most likely overeat when you do finally get to eat. If you are always limiting your food intake due to some type of diet your body may fight back with increased hunger.
To ensure you are getting balanced meals you can follow my PF3® method. PF3® is an acronym for protein, fiber, fat and fun. Include these elements into your meals and make sure to eat enough to keep yourself satisfied until the next eating opportunity.
3- Steer clear of tomorrow thinking. If you’re telling yourself “I’ll start over tomorrow” or “I’m going to start eating healthy on Monday” there is a good chance your brain will want to eat as much as it can now since it thinks it’s not going to get it later.
The bottom line. If you keep finding yourself in situations where you can’t stop eating, despite feeling full, then there is a good chance you are engaging in restrictive thoughts or behaviors. To move in a more positive direction allow yourself to eat guilt-free, have balanced meals on a regular basis and eat in the here and now by not thinking about what you ate earlier or how you’re going to eat “better” tomorrow.