Are old beliefs causing cravings or overeating?

By Michelle May, M.D.

Do you ever struggle with inexplicable cravings or overeating that doesn’t make sense to you?

We are staying at my parents’ cabin, and last night, my daughter got an almost empty bag of Fritos® out of their cabinet for a snack. I immediately wanted some, though I recognized I wasn’t hungry. I said, “Oh, they’re almost gone! Can I have a few?” As she handed them to me, she said, “You know, we can buy more.”

Old-beliefs-cause-cravings-overeatingOh. Right! I briefly reflected on what just happened…

I love Fritos but we don’t keep them around very often. It’s not about restriction or fear of bingeing on them anymore; it’s simply a conscious personal decision to have them with a deli sandwich or at a social event (when I want them), rather than having them available all the time. Interestingly, although I never feel deprived of Fritos, seeing them was still an environmental trigger. However, knowing they were almost gone felt like an emotional trigger! Why?

I remembered that when I was a kid, my active younger brother would sometimes finish off our favorite snack foods before I had a chance to have any. As a result, I would often overeat these foods out of fear that I wouldn’t get my share. Later, when I began dieting, Fritos weren’t allowed. That deprivation further reinforced my scarcity fears.

I share this story with you as an example of the power of mindfulness. Awareness of my physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings in the present moment allowed me to recognize that old beliefs were influencing my current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I simply needed to remind myself that food is not scarce. I can buy—and eat—Fritos whenever I want so there is no need to eat them just because my daughter wanted them!

Is it possible that old beliefs about eating or emotional connections to food are driving your eating cycles? What are you doing to recognize and heal the root causes of your overeating? Until you do, you will continue to be under the spell of these invisible drivers!

Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Retreats teach you how to recognize and address eating patterns that aren’t working for you!

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