Get Results By Making Peace with Diets

The real solution for permanent weight loss is understanding the hardest part: your urges to overeat.  Not only are you increasing your awareness of them, but you’re doing the work to understand them and how they’re created and why, which is so important to know.  

 

You understand the effect of food and why it’s not the food that causes urges, it’s your thoughts about food, and in these articles,  you have the knowledge and tools to start changing your actions around food.  Meaning, you’ll begin to make decisions deliberately rather than be reactive to urges and feeling out of control.

 

What you have here in these articles is what all the diet programs out there are missing.  And you can see why it’s hard to generalize something as personal and unique as undoing your urges around food because we all have our own ways of interpreting what food means to us.  Changing a habit like overeating is not easy, but in these pages you’re learning exactly what to do.

 

What I want to talk to you about today is applying the knowledge you’re gaining—it’s what really makes all the difference.  You’ve likely been applying what you’ve been learning from these articles, and you’ve got to continue applying these tools so that you get stronger and more efficient at undoing your urges around food.

All that matters are the results you’re getting

It’s very important to truly understand that no one can make you eat anything you don’t want to.  I think this is one of the most significant pieces to understand about permanent weight loss, the piece where you stop judging your situation and stop judging yourself in a situation.  And not just criticizing yourself but expanding that and looking at how you may judge dieting, how you may judge others who want to lose weight, how you judge food in general.  The only thing that matters in your road to weight loss are the results you’re getting…. Or not getting.

 

One thing I want to make very clear to you is that dieting is not a bad thing.  Nor is it a good thing.  It is just a way of eating.  That is all the word diet means.  You’re not in the right for being “anti-diet” nor are you in the wrong for being “anti-diet.”  You can be for diets or not—it just doesn’t matter.  How you judge how someone else eats, how you eat, or what a “fad diet” out in the world is designed to help you achieve… don’t let it take up any more cognitive real estate because of the  emotional overwhelm that comes with it. 

 

Your opinion of all of that is what makes weight loss either so confusing and frustrating or motivating and empowering.  

 

It’s all based on how you’re viewing it.  There is so much about diets being restrictive or depriving or freeing or “the right way to eat”… it makes it all so confusing unless you realize that all that matters, in the end, are the results you’re getting.  Do you like the results you’re getting? That is all that matters.  

 

And you want to find this out for yourself because you’ll begin to remove the judgement you have about dieting and how others do things because you’ll begin to notice that what works for you may not work for someone else, and that what works for someone else doesn’t have to work for you.  Your results are coming from your own actions based on how you are feeling and are choosing to believe about yourself within a circumstance or situation.

 

So, you can diet or not.  It’s totally up to you and that’s neither a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s YOUR thing because it will create YOUR results.

 

And I really want you to remember that your urges around food are not impossible to undo.  They are not made of impenetrable emotional steel.  They are not so solid that you’ll never begin to pull on a single thread to unravel them.  

 

Think about a plant.  If you don’t do the work of giving it water, it will slowly start to get worse.  But even before it dies, when you give it some water, within a day or two it’s perked up.  It took days and days, a long time, to get so withered it was about to die, but with just a little care and water, within a day it came back and began to show more and more signs of life.  Eventually, it started blooming again, and much faster than you initially thought.  The more water and dedicated care you give a plant, the more it thrives.

It’s the same with doing your work around urges.  

 

If you don’t do this work, then your urges can compound on themselves and you’ll begin to feel withered and worn down from the fighting.  But if you do this work, and you give yourself compassion, curiosity, and steadiness, you will compound your confidence and strength in the other direction and you will have a whole new life, one where urges are the non-issue that they are and you’re free to create and do things that you were telling yourself you couldn’t before because you thought your urges were a weakness. Because you thought that ignoring them or pushing them away, or wishing they didn’t exist or happen to you, were your only options.

Assess your current results

So, the way to get to this point where urges are undone is to assess your current results.  Let’s look at weight loss as an equation and your urges are one variable.  Work the equation backwards and find the variable that is not making the equation be the result you want.  When you have the variable, then you can make deliberate decisions on whether or not you want to change something about it.

 

A word of caution as you do this.  Notice if you’re trying to rush to “fix” the equation.  When you’re feeling rushed and impatient, then willpower will easily come in and serve as your source of fuel and motivation, but we know it never lasts.  Willpower is not a reliable variable in the equation for permanent weight loss.  In movie terms, it’s a supporting character, not a main character.

 

If you notice that willpower has set in, then that’s OK, but I want you to ask yourself, “Why?  Why do I want to rush through this?  Why do I want to get back to overeating as soon as the weight is off?”

 

Nothing is wrong with willpower rushing back in—remember, habits are behavioral tendencies you have.  Nothing is wrong, it just means that there is a reason you had to believe that using willpower up until now to lose weight was necessary, and that reason will be incredibly important and useful information for you.  That reason will be a thought that created the urgent emotion to use willpower to rush through weight loss, whether it’s one pound or 20.  

 

Like I mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll want to identify what weight loss means to you and why.  Doing this will help you see why this work is important to you.  Your reasons won’t look like anyone else’s reasons. 

 

For example, if you can’t find any good reasons to stay overweight or continue giving in to urges, then there’s no good reason to keep overeating, right?  Putting things into perspective like this will be amazing for you.  This will help you with deciding how you want to move forward from here.

A peek into what is possible

How you’re thinking about weight loss today will be different from how you’ve thought about weight loss in the past.  So now you need to ask yourself and decide, “Do I want to keep doing this?  Do I like the results I can get, and is it worth it to do this work and find the reasons why I was giving in to food to feel better?”  

 

My hope is that these articles have given you a peek through a door into what is possible for you and your body.  There’s so much more to find and explore, so you want to ask yourself if you want to do it knowing what’s possible if you walk all the way through.

 

Remember, your urges are just intense desires, and you can change that.  Your current eating habits are not set in stone and you can change them by doing this work.  You can change them by applying this work and developing the skill of, not just not giving into urges, but the skill of undoing them so completely that they’re no longer a problem, they’re not an issue anymore, so keeping the weight off will be effortless and you’ll enjoy your life the way you only imagined was possible.  

 

It can be a reality for you.  

 

You have to keep practicing and you’ll get better and better.  It’s just like learning how to brush your teeth or riding a bike or driving a car or excelling in a sport.  It won’t be easy at the beginning, just like when trying a new exercise and your muscles are quivering.  That’s a good sign, actually, when muscles are shaking—it means they aren’t used to the work but you know that with consistency and showing up, they get stronger, they’ll stop shaking, and you can accomplish so much more with your body all from the decision to show up and do the work.   

 

Your brain adapts in the same exact way.  You’ll have neural pathways in your brain that aren’t developed quite yet, but the more you practice, the more developed they will get and, in time, they become your new normal.  This is the work that is required to transform your life.  Not just your body, but your mind and your life.

 

So, keep using these articles and the tools to help yourself learn and undo habits and, eventually, urges.  It is possible and you can do whatever you want. If you haven’t already downloaded it, you can use a great tool I’ve created for you called the Undoing Urges Starter Guide. You can access it here 

You have the option to never do this work again or to revisit it or to keep going.  Neither way is right or wrong, but you will get a result either way.  You are the only one who gets to decide whether or not to move forward.

 

I will tell you that this work makes undoing urges 100% possible.  You can change your habits and your desires and I believe in your capacity to do so 100%.  I have no doubt. It’s not just what I’ve achieved, but what my clients have also achieved. It still takes my breath away how profoundly they have changed from doing this work.

 

Your work will be to continue this work until the urges lessen in intensity and become the non-issue that they are.  The more work you do, the less intense they become, the more you will show up in your life how you truly want to.  

 

And when that happens, you will be closer and closer to your goal and when you get there, you’ll look back and be in shock at what you were able to accomplish and how you were able to do it.  Then, any goal you set after that will be so achievable.  Because you’ll have undone the urges that were holding you back.

 

It gives me chills just thinking about the increased capacity you will gain to accomplish your weight loss goals in such a mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy way.  I hope you believe in yourself as much as I believe in you.

 

Living free from urges to overeat IS possible. You CAN live in the body you want and regain the space in your mind that once spiraled incessantly with thoughts about food and weight loss. No matter how many years you’ve been dieting or even how pervasive your overeating or binge eating history has been, this is 100% possible for you. If you’re ready to get started, then let’s talk. You can schedule a free consultation here. 

 

An Urge Undone

This is how you get conscious and aware of your triggers so that you can understand what actually starts the habit, what exactly causes the urges.  It’s different for everyone, so it’s unique to you, and you can get the awareness you need to identify the thought that is creating your urges to overeat.

 

Now, don’t do what so many other people do when they notice what their triggers are. They decide they’re either going to hide from those triggers or remove them from their house.  This is when people remove all the “bad” food from their fridge and pantry, or they say “no” to friends and family when asked to go out to a restaurant or party where there will be food.  

 

Don’t do this—there’s no need to.  Remember, the trigger is never what causes the desire, or the urge, to overeat.  It’s your thoughts about those triggers that are creating the urge.  

 

And this is the greatest news I ever got and that I am SO incredibly excited and honored to share with you if you didn’t already know it at this level of understanding!  

 

You don’t have to remove yourself socially and you don’t have to remove the food from your house… otherwise, you’re left with nothing and no one, and that’s not fun at all!  You can’t avoid your triggers forever, that’s unrealistic and not the length you want to go to just to lose some fat.  These triggers will always be around, you can count on them either never going away or changing over time.  You will never win if you try to control the uncontrollable.  

 

So, before I go on to explain how to not give in to the urge to overeat, I want to ask you some questions that will help you identify your own triggers and the way you’re thinking about them.  

 

Think back and identify when you tend to overeat.  Whether it’s at a football game and tailgating, or at home after work, or at a family member’s house for the holidays.  List those events out on paper.  Then, within those moments, think about how you’re feeling and how you think you would feel if you didn’t overeat, or didn’t give in to the urge to nibble and eat past fullness or satiety.  Then, be inquisitive and without judging yourself, ask yourself what it is you’re thinking that is bringing up those emotions for you.  What is going through your mind?

 

NOW that you know exactly why you, specifically, are overeating, it’s time to find out the answer to the biggest question: Why?  

 

This is the question that needs to be considered the most and that most people never even bother to think about, which is why they stay stuck.  The reason is because so many people already assume that negative emotions are wrong, they’re terrible, they’re incorrect just for being an emotion that isn’t related to happiness.  

 

This makes it really easy to desire avoiding them, right?  These emotions are being associated as painful on some level in your brain.  But why?  I really suggest you question that, otherwise you will never know how to undo an urge without fighting. But what I want you to really start to ask yourself is what is so terrible about a negative emotion that you need to not feel it?  That you seek food to get relief from feeling it?

What is an emotion?

It’s really important to know what an emotion actually is. 

 

An emotion is the word chosen to describe the state that your body is in when it’s feeling something.  

 

So, when you’re sad, for example, your body expresses that sadness in several ways, either through releasing tears, or lowering your lips and cheeks into a frown, or through slow movements, like you don’t get up off the couch very quickly.  

 

Every single emotion is expressed in your body at one point or another.  And what I want to ask you is, what do you notice you physically do when you’re feeling joyful

 

Or when you’re feeling frustrated?  When you’re frustrated, do you notice temperature changes, like, you feel your body heat up in certain places, like around your neck and face?  

 

When you’re feeling lonely, where do you feel the feeling of lonely?  For some people, loneliness is felt between their stomach and their chest, like a light tightness.  

 

An emotion is how you’re describing a physical state that your body is in, or a feeling state, and each emotion is expressed differently throughout your body.  

 

In short, negative emotions tend to increase tension in your body, meaning you can feel your muscles tense up. With positive emotions, you don’t feel the same kind of tenseness.  Take joyfulness for example; you may feel a pleasant lightness in your chest.  Or excitement… those can be those “good” butterflies fluttering around your chest that you love experiencing.    

How an emotion fuels you

Many of us are aware of physical changes in our body when we experience emotions, but we kind of stop there.  We don’t think about the effect our emotions actually have on us, meaning the actions that we’re inclined to take following how we’re feeling, because no one taught us how to actually identify and actually experience, or feel, a feeling.  

 

And it’s not a hard thing to do… frustration may create a heated face, sadness may produce a frown… these are just sensations in our body that are just as normal as moving our arm to the side or crossing one leg over the other.  

 

We’re not taught this with all emotions growing up, though, and our parents didn’t teach it to us because no one taught it to them.  But it’s true—every emotion shows up differently in our body and some we’re more familiar with and accepting of than others, even though they are all the same insofar as they are only physical vibrations or sensations in our body.  

 

The more you practice feeling an emotion and letting it come and go in your body, you’ll notice that it’s not as hard as you thought and that it’s a completely normal thing for a human body to do.  

 

So, knowing that emotions are just physical sensations in your body and mean only that, if you’re overeating because you’re giving in to urges to avoid feeling an emotion, then what emotions are you aware of that you’re avoiding?  What physical sensation are you avoiding experiencing?

 

The reason you need to know what your emotions feel like is because overeating has been your way of avoiding feeling a feeling.  

 

You overeat to feel less awkward at parties, to feel less boring at dinners, to feel less insecure or judged around your peers or family members.  For me, I overate because I had urges to avoid feeling judged.  It may be different for you, so it’s important to know how to feel your emotions so that you know what physical sensations you’re trying to avoid when you overeat.  

 

Remember how we talked about an emotion being a trigger?  A habit won’t be brought up unless there’s a trigger to get it going.  Well, a negative emotion may be a trigger for you.  An emotion like boredom, doubt, shame, or confusion… any time you feel even a second of it in your body, you nibble on some cheese, or grab an apple, or grab an extra cookie or half a donut in the break room.  You do these in order to change how you feel.  And when you do this, you make the urges stronger because you’re teaching your brain that a negative emotion is bad, and needs to be solved.

 

Your brain learns to reinforce this habit.  

 

But the thing is… there is no problem.  

 

Negative emotions are not bad because all they are, are physical sensations in your body.  We’re supposed to have them and feel them!  That’s part of the package of being a human being.  Animals have emotions too and they don’t judge themselves for experiencing any of them.  They just feel them and move on.  We do that too as human beings, but we’ve taught ourselves to use food to move on for some of our emotions, and that has created a habit of overeating that has resulted in weight gain that isn’t how you imagined your life would be.

 

And the beautiful thing about actually feeling your emotions is that, the more you do it, the more aware you will become of what you’re thinking.  And your thoughts create your emotions.  

 

Learning how to actually feel a feeling solves a lot for many people.  It may not completely get rid of a craving, but when an urge comes up, you have some reprieve, or real relief, and time to pause, and ask yourself what is it that you’re unwilling to physically feel?  

 

Feeling your emotions—from the positive ones to the negative ones—can decrease the intensity of the urge by a significant amount, and when the intense desire is lowered, then it no longer is urgent, and you’ll be making decisions consciously instead of unconsciously.  

Emotions don’t last forever

Another thing to keep in mind is that emotions don’t last forever; each and every single one passes.  

 

Most of us don’t actually let an emotion just run its course, or come and go.  Instead, we fight it.  We resist it.  We try to outrun it or outsmart or avoid it.  That just makes things more frightful and reinforces the habit of resisting or fighting it.  

 

You can lose weight this way, but the journey to weight loss will be so painful and miserable for you that you’ll even associate your results with pain, so you’ll return to overeating because that’s how you’ve remembered makes you feel better.  

 

Feeling your emotions is so important for loving your body no matter what size or shape you’re in.  It’s something I focus on with my clients a lot because the more you allow certain feelings like love and acceptance in your body, the more you’ll want to re-experience those emotions in your body, which makes the whole weight loss journey so much more wonderful, loving, and worthwhile, so there’s nothing to run away from or hide from when you actually have lost all the weight.  

 

Experiencing your emotions in your body all the way through is the key to undoing your urges, which is the key to never gaining excess fat ever again.

Do the work

Ok, so let’s practice this.  Let’s bring it all together.  Think about and write down when you notice you tend to overeat.  Find those moments in your day and list them out.  And in those moments, think about how you’re feeling and how you think you would feel if you didn’t eat anything, or didn’t give in to the urge to snack or nibble and eat past fullness or satiety.  Then, when you notice the feeling, ask yourself, “What is going through my mind?

 

Now, when you’re doing this and you notice that one of the emotions you’re feeling is a difficult emotion, start writing down what you notice you are physically feeling in your body.  Pay attention to your whole body and locate where there is tension in your muscles, or temperature changes, or a twisting feeling in your stomach, or perspiration building up in the palms of your hands…  Do you feel anything in your nose, on your nose, around your ears, on the back of your neck, along your back?

 

The reason this is so important to do, and why it’s such a crucial skill to develop, is because you will start to train your brain to learn that difficult emotions are not bad, that they don’t need to be solved by eating.

 

Definitely do this work—it will change so, so much for you.  This is the work that will be the most transformative for you.  

 

And don’t judge yourself or doubt your ability to try this.  It’s not the way you’ve been taught to handle urges, so trying a new way will feel awkward and different at first, but this is the only way to lower the intensity of your urges so that you are ultimately in control of what you eat, and in the end, you’re in control of the weight and shape of your body.  

 

This practice that you develop will be something that you can use for the rest of your life. And I am so happy that you have this tool now.  

 

As always, if you have any questions about how to move forward with anything I share and how it can help you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I want to make sure you have everything you need to make the progress you want. I answer any and all questions about undoing urges to overeat in the Undoing Urges Facebook group. I hope you join us!

 

The Overeating Habit Explained 🌀

Remember when you learned about overeating and how it’s an action that is driven by how we’re feeling?  You can revisit that topic here.  And when it comes to losing weight and keeping the weight off, we need to know what we’re feeling so that we can change the action of overeating.  And with overeating, we feel either one or both of these things: over-hunger and urges.  

 

We learned how closely tied to each other these two sensations are.  We learned that calorically-dense, ultra-processed foods elevate dopamine in your brain to such high levels and so rapidly that your brain learns that these foods are necessary for your survival.  And anything that is necessary for survival is desirable.  That’s where intense desire, or urges, comes into the equation.  And then, when the reward of food—no matter if they’re calorically-dense or nutritionally-dense—if food is the object of your desire, then your brain will commit to memory the need for the reward.  It will urge you to the reward because it perceives it as necessary.

 

So, I know it feels like the chips are stacked against you.  Trust me, they are not.  You are infinitely more powerful than your brain.  This is what I mean.

Brain Power

Your brain is a learning, perceptive machine.  The most powerful in the world, in fact.  It is designed to keep you alive and it will use its programming to find patterns that will ensure your survival.  The thing is, it’s been misdirected and told to focus on some wrong things.  

 

Your brain is so efficient, and it focuses on these two questions: will this be pleasurable, or will this be painful?  

 

Everything in your life, everything you’re motivated by, is based on these two questions that your brain is naturally geared toward thinking all the time.  Because if it determines that something is pleasurable, it will go towards it.  If it determines that something will bring pain, then it will avoid it.  

 

Remember, your brain, which is part of your nervous system in your body, is trying to keep you alive for as long as possible because it knows you are the only one of your kind that there will ever be on this planet, that there ever was in the history of our species.  

 

You are truly the only one.  

 

And once your brain is certain, it will become extremely efficient at solidifying that pattern… all for your survival.  

 

This is what is commonly known as the motivational triad: your brain seeks pleasure and reward, it avoids pain and threat, and it does both of these extremely efficiently.

 

So, now you can see how dopamine helps your brain determine what is pleasurable.  And the more that belief is reinforced, the more of a habit it becomes.  

Habits

This is what today is going to be about.  We’re going to learn about habits, where they come from and how to break a habit without resistance. 

If you think about it, you may realize by now that overeating is a habit for you, as it is for many, many people.  If you’re not overeating, then you’re either losing weight or maintaining your weight.  But overeating is a desirable habit, that’s why it feels so confusing when you want to break away from it—as you do every time you start a diet—but you still want to keep eating the way you do.  It’s because it’s a habit.

 

What is a habit, exactly?  A habit is an action you’ve kept on taking.  

 

Habits are GREAT and we want habits that help us live a lifestyle that we enjoy.  

 

Brushing your teeth twice a day is a habit.  

Pouring yourself a cup of coffee in the morning is a habit.  

Putting on underwear is a habit. 

 

We have some great habits that ensure we don’t get rotten teeth, that we start our day off with some energy, and that we’re well-dressed and have good hygiene.  They’re not only good habits that ensure we have a great day and a great life, but they’re habits because they’re effortless.

 

If you think about it, we weren’t born with our current habits.  So many habits we created unknowingly and even accidentally.  

 

Think about brushing your teeth.  When you were little and were learning how to brush your teeth, it was hard and awkward at first.  You resisted when your parents told you to brush your teeth at night.  Then, when you got yourself to the sink, you either forgot to put toothpaste on the toothbrush.  Other times, you maybe forgot to brush your top jaw, or one half of your mouth.  It wasn’t a very graceful learning process.  

 

Now, however, you’re so efficient at brushing your teeth that you can brush your teeth and check your phone at the same time.  It’s effortless.  And better yet, you want to want to brush your teeth because you learned to like how a clean mouth feels.  You learned to like not having cavities.

 

Believe it or not, it is the exact same process that happened with your over-desire for food, or what made your urges get so intense and strong.

 

The thing is, and you may not be surprised to learn this, but actions that deliver big rewards, like eating calorically-dense foods or eating large portions of food, will flood your brain with dopamine and will be memorized by your brain faster.  The bigger the reward, the more quickly the action becomes a habit.

 

A habit is created when there’s a reward involved—and avoiding something that you perceive might be painful is also a compelling reward because of the certainty you feel knowing you avoided pain.  It’s why diets are hard to adhere to if you think there will be any level of pain involved in the adherence of it.  

 

So, when there is a reward, a habit will start to be developed.  But your brain also needs repetition.  The action of overeating has been repeated over and over again and so often for many years, that it just feels like a part of who you are.  Like, not overeating feels like you would be an impostor of some sort.  And in a way, you’re right, but you weren’t born with urges (intense desire)  to overeat.  It was learned, which means it can be unlearned and maybe you’ll actually be living the way you were always meant to be.  It’s REALLY interesting to think about that.  

Now, I want to calm your fears about the habit of overeating if you’re thinking right now that you’ve been overeating for years and years and years.  I don’t want you to think that it’s going to take just as many years to undo the habit of overeating.  This is why: you weren’t consciously aware of the habit you were creating every time you overate.  

 

So, what will happen if you develop a new habit but knowingly?  

 

Your brain is ridiculously efficient and is always looking for a rewarding pattern to follow or a painful pattern to avoid.  You can create a habit much more quickly when you do it knowingly and are deliberate with your focus and willingness.  So, you can really undo a habit that you developed over years and years, even decades for some of us, all in a matter of months.  

Triggers

So, a habit is created when there is a reward, when there is repetition, and finally, when it’s got a trigger.

 

You know what I mean when I say trigger, or a hint.  Many people think that urges come up when they see food, or when they smell or see something appetizing.  So many things can trigger the urge to eat something, and therefore, reinforce the habit to overeat.

 

But have you noticed that the same urges come up even when you’re just sitting at home, or when you’re at work and you notice you have an urge for something in particular?  

 

That’s because it’s not the thing itself, like the food, it’s your thoughts about the food that are bringing up the desire for food.  

 

We think thousands upon thousands of thoughts each day, and it’s hard to keep track of them, especially if we try to sort them out in our head without writing them down.  That’s why I think the BEST thing that tells you what your trigger is will be your emotions.  Because your emotions are with you everywhere.

 

How you are feeling is the trigger to want to seek food.  

 

You can be feeling either anxious, bored, lonely, or frustrated, and if you repeatedly eat when you’re feeling these emotions, then your brain will start to recognize that anxiousness, boredom, loneliness, and frustration are cues to begin the habit of overeating.  

 

Eating is a really quick and easy way to change how you feel, and that’s why you really want to pay attention to the emotional state you’re in before you start eating.  

 

You might be thinking, “That doesn’t make sense, I don’t eat to avoid feeling anything.  I eat when I’m happy, like when I’m with family or friends, and I’m not trying to avoid being happy.”  

 

I get it, it was confusing for me at first, also.  But let me ask you this: what would happen if you went out to a party, a football game, a restaurant, and you ate only until you were physically satiated, which meant some food would be left on the plate or you didn’t even get to try all the food, like dessert, which is what you normally do… How would you be feeling?

 

That emotion, whatever it is for you in the situation you find yourself in—maybe judged, doubtful, weird, insecure, or uncertain—that emotion has become a trigger for you.

 

Whatever you are trying to avoid feeling, which is an emotion, is very often your trigger.

 

Here’s the most important thing to know.  Your triggers do not cause your urges.  So, you see the trigger, you may even feel the trigger in your body, like boredom, and you have a thought about it, about whether that is something pleasurable or painful.  THAT thought is what then brings up the urge, or your heightened desire, and answering it with food solidifies the habit again.    

 

Head on over to An Urge Undone to know how to do the one thing you need to do to finally break the habit of overeating.

 

Hunger in Diets

I sometimes like using the term over-hunger to describe the sensation of hunger (from ghrelin) that you feel from eating mostly calorically-dense foods.  Over-hunger is your body thinking it needs more energy, or food, even though it already has enough or got enough in a meal or for the day.  

Over-hunger is mostly experienced when eating calorically-dense foods that are typically ultra-processed, meaning they have been significantly changed from their original state, with salt, sugar, fat, additives, preservatives and sometimes with artificial colors added. 

Your body isn’t physically satiated from those foods, but it will still use and store the large number of calories it got from those foods. And since you’ll get physically hungry later, you’re more likely to eat again.  And the important thing to remember about ultra-processed foods that I mentioned in this article is their rapid and potent effect on the dopamine in your brain.  

The more of these foods you eat, the more easily your dopamine is elevated, so the more your brain thinks they are necessary for your survival.  But calorically-dense, ultra-processed foods are typically nutrient-deficient, so they are not necessary for our survival—they just pretend to be by raising the dopamine in our brain.  We only THINK they’re important, but our body is physically telling us these foods are not useful because it’s hungry again and it wants the nutrients it needs to survive and function well.  

 

The Hunger & Fullness Scale

What I want to leave you with today is an exercise that you can start using today and for the rest of the week—and frankly, for the rest of your life.  The aim is for you to get to know your legitimate physical hunger AND fullness levels.  This is similar to the Hunger-and-Fullness scale I work on with my clients in the Undoing Urges Weight Loss Program because it’s one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge that will last you forever and that will help you unravel the intensity of your urges by a significant amount.

So, let’s start with the Hunger side of the scale.  It’s important to know what physical hunger feels like because it’s much different from a craving or an urge to eat.  

Even though I’ve used different forms of scales over the years, this scale is one that I found easy to understand that I got from two of my coaches, Brooke Castillo and Martha Ayim.  The Hunger Scale is only about how your body is feeling as far as physical hunger is concerned:

Imagine a a scale that ranges from 0 to -10. 

0 is a neutral feeling and you’re neither hungry nor full, you’re completely content and not thinking about food.  

The extreme end of the scale is -10, where you’re so hungry you’re about to pass out.  Most of us don’t ever get to that level.  

Around -4 is where you start to feel the ghrelin in your stomach growling.  But it may be slightly different for you.  

Use this Hunger Scale over the next several days to gauge where you’re at physically in terms of true, physical hunger.  You may notice how quickly hunger goes away when you either drink water or something warm like tea or even when you start eating a few bites and then feel satiated.  This may be the most fun and interesting information you get about your own body—and feeling more connected with your body is an incredible feeling.

Now let’s move on to the Fullness side of the scale.  It’s also extremely important to know what physical fullness, or satiety, feels like because once you hit that spot where you’re full, but you want to keep eating, then you’ll know you’re just experiencing an urge.  And if you find yourself there, then you can remember the questions in this article and figure out why you want to listen to the urge, but I’ve included them below. This is the best way to start unraveling an urge because you’ll know that you’re already full, that you took care of your body’s physical needs.

The Fullness Scale is measured the same as the Hunger Scale where 0 is neutral but it goes up to +10, which is extreme fullness, like you’re so overwhelmingly full it’s painful and you can’t move. This scale will let you know what satiety feels like to you and where you’re most comfortable with how much you eat.  You don’t have to eat to a +4 or a +5 if you feel light and great at +2 or +3.  When you notice that you’re physically satiated, take a look at your plate and how much you ate and what you ate, and ask yourself how you’re feeling.  

  1. Where on your body do you feel an urge? 
  2. What does it feel like when you say no to an urge?  When you say no to an urge, when you feel that desire for food but don’t eat the food, how do you feel?
  3. When you have the urge to eat food that you didn’t plan to eat, what thoughts do you notice you are having?

The Hunger-and-Fullness Scale is one of my favorite tools when coaching my clients because it alleviates them from the mental math and drama around food.  They learn to trust their body and their body’s physical desires and, therefore, they trust themselves even further because they’ll want to take care of their body and listen to it rather than force it to do something.  

I hope the Hunger & Fullness Scale begins working for you as it’s worked for me and for so many of my clients with feeling more safe and calmer around food. If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve joined us in the Undoing Urges free Facebook group where we discuss your hunger and fullness, and so much more.

I would love to hear how this goes for you.  Take care and bye for now!

 

Real Physical Hunger 🤤

Today I’m going to explain a concept that is the answer for why we are so confused so often about how much we’ve been eating.  When you have incessant urges to overeat, then one of the reasons is likely because of your thoughts about hunger and how much of it you—or can’t—tolerate.

If we back up a little bit to remind ourselves why weight loss for fitness- and mindset-savvy women is difficult sometimes, it’s because we are overeating.  Overeating is an action that we repeatedly do when we experience two things: urges and hunger.  

Urges are that intense desire that I covered in great detail in previous articles (this is a good place to start 👈). That is where most of your work will be when undoing your urges to successfully lose weight and it’s meaningful because it’s the work that will ensure your results last.

Today, let’s talk about the other component to overeating, which is hunger.  After this article, you will understand so much more clearly and easily why what you are eating is causing weight gain or stalled weight loss, and then what to do about it.  It will actually help you understand your urges a lot better and will propel your work towards undoing them.

And I want to make this 100% clear… This article is not meant to make you feel bad about what you eat or don’t eat, it is strictly educational and geared towards making you question how you want to eat—not how you’ve been eating.  We are focusing on where we’re going, not beating ourselves up for how we got here.  

Remember, if there is one thing I will ever tell you to do it’s to never again beat yourself up.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and if you want to undo your urges around food so that you can finally keep the weight off, then you need to understand this information about food and your physiology in order to decide on purpose how you want to go forward from here.   

When did hunger become such a problem for weight loss?

Think about how you physically feel after you’ve eaten one cupcake vs. one whole egg with three slices of bacon.  Specifically, how you physically feel within 10-15 minutes of only eating either a cupcake or an egg with three slices of bacon.

Only one meal will actually give you the physical sensation of legitimate fullness, whereas the other meal will not be as filling and you’ll most likely get hungry again within the hour.  The thing is, both meals had the same amount of energy, or calories, that entered your body.  

Right now, I’m not even talking about the type of calories, meaning protein or carbohydrates or fats; I’m only talking about physical fullness.  

So many of us no longer know what true fullness feels like.  Thanks to all the dieting we’ve done over the years, some of us have been telling our body when it’s full rather than letting ourselves feel when fullness is achieved.

It’s not just the years of dieting that have skewed how we think about hunger and, therefore, how we feel about it. Part of the reason hunger is a problem for us when trying to lose weight is because of the kind of foods we eat.

Your body is very good at telling you when you’re physically full and when you’re physically hungry.  There are hormones in your body dedicated to sending those specific signals.  

🟣 Ghrelin: You have the hormone ghrelin, which is located mainly in your stomach and sends the hunger signal.  You’ll know when ghrelin is out when your tummy is growling, and you can feel it in your stomach.  

🟣 Leptin: The hormone that tells you when you’re full is called leptin.  Leptin actually resides in your fat cells and not only tells you when you’re physically full, but it also signals you when to move.  Have you ever noticed that you can’t sit for too long?  That you get the itch to at least get up and move around?  That’s leptin signaling to you to move your body.  

So, you see, the human body was designed to eat and move.  Those are facts that you can rely on about your amazing body.

So, let’s tie this in with hunger.  

Why do you notice your tummy growling typically within an hour after eating a cupcake vs. not feeling physical hunger for a long while after eating an egg and three slices of bacon?  They each had the same amount of calories—a little over 200 calories each meal—but why do they feel physically different in your body?  

The reason is because of the structure of the food.  And this is where most people understand the surface level of processed vs. whole foods, but I’m going to go deeper than that to help you understand how it actually ties into urges and your weight. 

Your body never, ever stops burning calories

Your body is designed to take in energy and put it to use.  It will always do that until the day you die.  The hormone Insulin is the workhorse behind that task.  

Food is energy—that is how our body interprets food.  It also labels the fat on your body as energy.  All food you eat will be converted to energy, and any extra energy is stored away for later use.  Stored energy is fat, and the more energy we eat that we don’t use, the more fat we gain.

But not all “energy” or food feels physically satiating.  Feels physically filling to you. Why is that and what foods DO create physical fullness?  And why is physical fullness important?  

The reason I am asking you to consider these questions is because you’ve been searching for years for a diet to follow that you can feel full and safe doing.  

And I’m going to tell you that the only diet that YOU will follow, that you will want to want to do, is the one that will ensure you keep your weight loss results for the rest of your life.  So, what diet do you follow? 🤔  

You adhere to the one that you decide is how you want to eat for the rest of your life.  

That’s the only way to eat that will sustain results, that will sustain results because you want to keep them, without despair, resentment, confusion, or frustration.  

But, you understand that you can’t eat all the cupcakes whenever you want and lose weight.  It’s true, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the picture forever and it doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without.  

You will have to adjust your food plan (or daily menu) as you lose weight, but your body is so smart and adaptable, that you can increase the amount of food you eat after you’ve lost the weight without gaining all the weight back.  This is known as reverse dieting, which I work on with my clients once they’ve gone through the Undoing Urges Weight Loss Program.  

Calorically-dense foods & hunger

A cupcake has the same amount of energy as bacon slices and an egg, but it’s not physically satiating because you’re hungry again and much sooner.  Most processed foods, or anything that has been altered from its natural form, are calorically-dense foods, meaning they pack a ton of calories for the small volume that they are.  These foods are the familiar foods made primarily with sugar, flour and other ingredients you don’t typically keep in your own kitchen.  

Most of these foods have also been stripped of the majority of their nutrients and fiber, so they are not physically filling nor are they providing you with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that your body needs to perform well and function optimally.  

Remember, what I am telling you is not to make you feel bad in any way.  I am giving you the facts because this information will help you with your decisions moving forward from here.

Calorically-dense foods are still treated the same as all other foods by your body.  Meaning that, even though these foods didn’t physically satiate you, your body will take those calories and distribute them where needed.  Some will be used for actual energy, like walking to your car or going for a run, but not all calories will be used up for that.  Your body takes in only what it needs, and extra energy automatically gets stored away for later use.  

The thing is, the more calorically-dense foods we eat, the more gets stored for later use.  And when you’re feeling hungry again even though you’ve eaten calorically-dense foods, you tend to eat more, and that is overeating, even though you have plenty of energy.  

That is how mismanaged hunger contributes greatly to overeating.  

We tend to eat when we’re physically hungry—that’s why we have a hormone to remind us to consume energy.  But when we’re eating foods that aren’t physically satiating, our body is going to release ghrelin again and we’ll want to eat again… and again, and again.   

Nutritionally-dense foods

Now, let’s talk about whole foods, or as I prefer to call them, nutritionally-dense foods.  These foods are your vegetables, your fruits, your meats, your dairy, your complex carbohydrates.  These foods are typically lower in calories for their volume but fill you up amazingly well.  

Have you ever tried eating 200 calories of raw spinach?  You would get so physically full before getting halfway there because it’s A LOT of spinach. 

That’s the beautiful thing about nutritionally-dense foods.  Not only are they physically satiating, but they contain all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body needs to function beautifully and at its best.  That’s why they’re called nutritionally-dense foods.  

Maybe you’ll have noticed your nails or hair getting brittle over the holiday season… it’s not necessarily due to the cold.  We tend to cut out protein and vegetables and eat more calorically-dense foods like cookies, candy, pies, etc., which deprive us of nutrients, and your body starts to show that deficiency.

That’s not meant to scare you at all, because obviously your body is still up and running and doing your daily things, but you can see how the quality of foods you eat can either add or take away from your body being at its best.

Now, there are some foods that are both calorically-dense and nutritionally-dense.  Those foods are foods like avocados, nuts, oils, fatty meats, cheeses, and seeds like chia seeds or flax seeds.  

When it comes to weight loss—meaning, strictly losing fat—it doesn’t matter if you only eat calorically-dense or nutritionally-dense foods… If you eat too much of either, you will gain weight.  You can lose weight on cupcakes if you’re in a caloric deficit—just as true as you can gain weight on spinach if you’re eating a caloric surplus of it. 🥗  

The thing is, it’s almost physically impossible to overeat nutritionally-dense foods because you get physically full so much more quickly and so much more efficiently because of the fiber, water, and nutrient content in these foods.  It’s very, very easy to overeat calorically-dense foods because they don’t keep you full for as long or as well as nutritionally-dense foods.  

And you can eat both and still lose weight—and that’s where you want to honestly factor in how you want to eat and live the rest of your life.  

If you eat nothing but cupcakes for the rest of your life, then you will lose weight, but you’ll lose so much more in terms of nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals, and you won’t feel great.  You’ll be nutritionally-deprived, and your body will greatly suffer.  It’s like being happy about getting the flu; you feel physically terrible and miss out on so many things in your life, but at least you lost 5lb!  

That’s where the work with undoing urges is so important because if you don’t have urges for calorically-dense foods like cupcakes, or even urges for consuming lots of nutritionally-dense foods like sweet potatoes or peanut butter, then you’re in control of the quality of your life for the rest of your life.

If you have a fear of hunger or feel like you’re disconnected from reading your hunger AND fullness signals, then join me in the Undoing Urges free Facebook group where we talk about this and more. I hope I get to see you there where I can help you more.