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My two biggest challenges with food

By Michelle May, M.D.

Your-challenges-with-eatingWe are getting ready to reopen our Mindful Eating Support Community for the first time since January, but before we do, I’d really like to hear from you…

What are your two biggest challenges when it comes to managing your eating?

Please post your two challenges by commenting on this blog post below. (Use your first name only, and don’t worry if you don’t see your comment right away! We have to approve them to prevent spam.) Or, if you prefer, you may post them on our public Am I Hungry? Facebook page.

Read on for help: Why do I keep struggling with the same eating issues? and How to Make Sense of Your Eating Issues

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

113 Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    Eating when I am hungry but really don’t want to eat mentally or emotionally. When I am in a challenging place whether it be anxious, upset, having a bad day, etc. I have a hard time making myself eat when I need to. I could be hungry and I will just tell myself that I will get past it.

    The second thing is honoring what I am hungry for. If I am craving pasta, carbs, or something that others would consider “unhealthy” I have a really hard time honoring that and having those kinds of foods.

  2. Chris says:

    Mindless snacking & probably being on the road for work, making healthy choices. Sometimes it is hard to plan out healthy snacks when traveling.

  3. Kim says:

    I would say my two biggest challenges are

    1) planning meals and preparing them especially for work.

    2) food boredom. Eating the same foods over and over again because they’re healthy.

  4. Maria says:

    1) stressful eating
    2) skipping mealtimes

  5. melissa says:

    Emotional eating and portion size.

  6. esther says:

    I have two, cakes and drinking, love a good glass of wine, beer and rum…..one or two no more

  7. Kimberly says:

    1- Snacking on chips, crackers gets out of control in terms of serving sizes. A serving is not half a big bag of chip or a whole sleeve of crackers with peanut butter, cheese or dip.
    2- Not cooking at home when I should. Relying on fast food options. Cooking is not what I want to do after a full day of work, then there is the worst part…the clean up!

  8. Judy says:

    My biggest challenge is staying in the social network (meeting friends or family) and staying on track with my plan. I hate admitting that I am watching my food intake, I feel as if others think “when will you finally lose the weight??”
    Another challenge is budgeting for healthy eating. It seems when we go to Sprouts for the veggies and meats- when end up spending more than we’ve allotted for groceries. It appears that buying the better creamer (walden farms) or fresh spinach and broccoli and meats we spend too much.

  9. Kimberly says:

    1- Snacking on chips, crackers, cookies. Serving sizes should not be half a full-sized bag of chips or box of crackers. I find I mindlessly eat these on a regular basis.

    2- Not cooking at home enough. relying on fast food or other restaurant food. Cooking after a full day of work is not what I feel like doing, not to mention the clean up!

  10. Patty says:

    Sugar is a BIG problem for me. I am pretty sure it causes an addictive behavior for me. I need to just avoid it-if I eat chocolate I want MORE-a piece does not satisfy me and then my choices go down until I detox from that episode. And of course portion control is my other problem.

  11. Conyers says:

    My 2 challenges are quantity and knowing if I am really hungry.

  12. ray says:

    1. Trying to slow down my eating. Having eaten my meals quickly most of my life, I find it a little difficult to slow down. I do put my fork down regularly, to pace myself. Putting less food on my plate does help to set myself up for slowing down while eating.

    2. Eating more fish….not something I really like doing. I do eat some fish, but, not enough. I don’t know how to increase this food in my diet. The lack of real good fresh fish in our area, prevents me from eating more fish.

  13. melinda says:

    My two biggest challenges are overwhelming sweets cravings, and determination, sometimes my determination just goes right out the window.

  14. Linda says:

    my two biggest challenges with food:
    1- food that others bring in to the house, such as pastries, chocolate, ice cream.
    2 – eating at regular times to prevent being starving and then not choosing wisely.

  15. Lori says:

    My two biggest challenges- only two?

    1) Aligning my food wants and needs with those of my family without preparing separate meals. Definitely we are not all on the same page. Food choices, preparation, even timing.

    2). Eating out – especially while traveling or on the road where the restaurant’s healthy selections are an afterthought. Every menu feels like a quiz: what’s the thing I like best that’s the best balance among taste, health, and what the restaurant can prepare well?

    Eating while traveling combines these two issues. On the day when I would rather eat several small meals, my family wants big breakfast and early dinner.

  16. Kristina says:

    1) Snacking while preparing food
    2) Snacking due to stress or boredom

  17. Katherine says:

    1. Keeping Balanced when allowing carbs in my diet. When I allow bread or sweets into my diet, then I want them everyday
    2. Allowing Alcohol without gaining weight

  18. Kay says:

    1) sticking with my resolve and goal to eat mindfully and evaluate my hunger before just diving in and eating anything and everything in sight
    2) being more in touch with my body and feelings to understand what I really need, when I know it’s not food

  19. Carrie says:

    My biggest challenge is sabotaging myself and not understanding why!
    My second biggest challenge is the all ir nothing syndrome..either bingeing or dieting…never eating by my body

  20. Jim E. says:

    1. Managing Portion Size: This is far and away the hardest thing for me. I have a tough time feeling satisfied unless I’m eating large portions.
    2. Making Healthy Choices. I was raised with great-tasting, but high-calorie, foods as the staples of my diet. I try hard to make better choices, and in some cases I have made meaningful changes in my diet, but I still find myself falling back to the high-fat and high-sodium foods of my childhood.

  21. Patricia says:

    Stress eating and night time eating

  22. Kelle says:

    1) Getting so stressed and busy that I don’t take time to eat until I am at the extreme end of the hunger scale

    2) Planning and preparing food for my family, as well as for my own needs, which usually are not aligned.

  23. Sama says:

    Struggling with both overeating and / or undereating (the constant back and forth between the two extremes) due to eating disorder (fluctuation between bulimia, anorexia, binge eating over the years)

  24. Rita says:

    Rita
    #1 portion control
    #2 sweets

  25. Kelly says:

    Just two! Lol! 1.) Eating out/not cooking enough at home. Neither my husband nor I like cooking plus we eat completely 100% differently so we end up eating out a lot. My mindset when we eat out tends to be that it’s somewhat of a treat time so I overindulge or eat things that I know won’t make me feel good. Eating out feels like a bad habit and almost like an addiction. 2.) Soda and sugar. I feel addicted to these and need them often. I have worked hard to let go of good and bad foods and know they don’t make me feel good and it is not what I really need but I still can’t control it most of the time.

  26. Kathy says:

    Procrastination eating
    Eating between meals

  27. Hester says:

    My 2 biggest challenges are:

    1) not giving myself enough time to cook food (and eating bars or other prepared foods)
    2) not giving myself enough time to eat (between activities)

  28. Amy says:

    Going out to certain social events with friends where I have historically joined actively in eating and drinking.

    Not eating while doing a stressful work project

  29. Lori says:

    eating more protein
    nights and weekend – controlling the snacks

  30. Angela says:

    Avoiding a sugary dessert after dinner.

  31. Heleene says:

    Avoiding emotional eating.
    Stopping before I eat to determine whether it is hunger or just wanting to eat.

  32. Jodi says:

    Discipline at work. Saying NO to all the junk food and lunches!

    Not eating at night when home alone. My mind convinces me to go out and buy ice cream!!

  33. Theresa says:

    Moderating sweets – knowing when to indulge and how much should be enough. Also, not allowing the indulgence to last days or even weeks! Getting right back at eating well.

  34. Madeline says:

    Emotional eating – I immediately turn to food when angry, sad, stressed or frustrated. I am definitely more aware of it now but I seem unable to stop.

    Processed food – I eat too much of it because it’s convenient.

  35. Paulette says:

    Mindless eating in front of the computer as a way to cope with the stresses in my life.
    Taking the time to make a meal a special occasion when eating alone.

  36. Simma says:

    Secret eating – as if doesn’t matter if no one knows I do it.
    I am still learning what hungry feels like. It’s shocking how removed I have become from my body.

  37. Dina says:

    The choice between something yummy that is not really what I feel is best for my body (and convenient) and the choice of a healthier option, and then eating when super stressed.

  38. Sue says:

    1. HATE cooking
    2. LOVE the taste of food

  39. Denise says:

    Making healthy choices and portion control.

  40. Deborah says:

    1. Coca Cola in any form or fashion….diet, regular, it doesn’t matter….it is my gateway to binge eating and “treating myself.”

    2. Not being hungry at the same time as my family but still feeling pressure to make a meal and sit and eat it with them for dinner

  41. Kelly says:

    Eating while I work at my computer. I work from home so no one to watch me! I do it as a stress reliever for sure. I keep saying I will find an alternate thing to do but it has to be something that allows me to still do my work at the same time!

  42. Esther says:

    I agree with many commenters above,

    Processed food because of convenience and
    Grazing in between meals

  43. Mike says:

    My biggest challenge is eating late at night, after my wife has gone to sleep. I often feel lonely, and can easily been to during that time.

    My second challenge is eating foods which are unhealthy for me. I have major health challenges I need to stay away from salt and carbohydrates. Then I end up eating tasty bread or salty nuts or salty crackers.

  44. Sue says:

    Meal planning and having the right foods available
    Also I enjoy some wine at night or cocktail

  45. Sharon says:

    2 biggest challenges with food:
    1) southern hospitality – we nurture most every encounter with food: weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, holidays, group meetings / ice breakers, welcoming into a home, etc.
    2) availability of food – almost everywhere and ANY time.

    Maybe this is actually only one challenge – not planning ahead; or not being on the planning team, for such events.
    And then there is the issue of preservatives in foods – somewhat necessary for safe food handling. Yet, do we have to have it in such abundance?!?

  46. Turanga says:

    My biggest challenges are emotional eating and _consistently_ making healthy food choices.

  47. Jodi says:

    1. exhaustion at the end of work day and too tired to make dinner . I grab fast food.
    2.. outings, special events and vacations. I always feel that I don’t need to stick to diet when these occur.

  48. Sue says:

    Well truthfully I’m sure I have more than two, however the two that are rooted in my core are as follows:
    1) Letting go and “trusting” that my body will tell me what, when and how much to eat, without trying to control it in some way.

    2) the fear of what my body weight/size will actually be if I am courageous enough to really “trust” my body to do it’s thing. My fear is that I will end up being bigger than what I have been most of my life, because that is what my body really wants to be, and I am not sure my head could deal with that very well, lol. I like the way being lighter feels and I am not sure I am ready to give control of that up!

  49. Michele says:

    1) I have always constantly desired to consume every dessert in the world everyday. I have not eaten sugar-real or fake-for over 10 years but still crave it.
    2) Carbs in general. I try to avoid all the grains and potatoes with minimal success.

  50. Carolyn says:

    Eating in the evening
    Cravings for sugar, carbs, fatty snacks

  51. Pam says:

    Eating too much sugar and eating (late) after 6pm.

  52. Sharon says:

    My two biggest challenges are making preparation and planning a priority for myself and wanting to graze throughout the day and evening.

  53. Somer says:

    Over eating, and eating fast rather than enjoying my food.

  54. Susan says:

    First and most difficult, eating at night after dinner when not hungry.
    Second, eating more than my body needs even if it’s healthy food

  55. Dean says:

    1) lacking time to adequately plan and stock my refrigerator with healthy and appealing food choices

    2) eating impulsively.

  56. Wendy says:

    Being with friends!

  57. Anna says:

    Portion size and eating for special occasions/holidays

  58. Wanda says:

    1. Sweets. I have struggled for many years to eat them in moderation
    2. Stress and emotional eating.

  59. Ronald says:

    My two biggest challenge is adequate portion size and
    2. Don’t overeat!

  60. Pam C says:

    Number one. Eating when I’m at hungry
    number two. Eating with the presence of food as a trigger versus actually being hungry

  61. IRENE says:

    Portion control.
    Missing pasta and pizza and bread and butter and sandwiches

  62. Carin says:

    1. To stop eating when I am satisfied… I eat till I feel the food in my stomach and then it is too much.
    2. To wait until I am really hungry/empty…. I eat when I am about 3 on the hunger scale and I am afraid to wait till empty – afraid of the hunger feeling

  63. sharon says:

    1. NIGHTTIME EATING!
    2. snacking if I am having a glass of wine.

  64. Athena says:

    Day-time unconscious restricting due to no appetite and no real hunger cues until dinner.
    Night-time binge eating and/or drinking due to severe depression and anxiety. Binge eating is typically not processed or junk. But I tend to settle on one food/type, (e.g. cheese, Greek yogurt, protein bars, fruit and yogurt, fruit and cottage cheese, hummus and pita chips, etc) and can’t seem to stop. I will only have appetite for that one food for days or weeks then I just stop craving it and can’t even look at it. Then I move on to another food.

  65. beth says:

    1) Knowing when I’m full, or around a 6. I can tell my hunger score but not fullness. This is a big part of why I eat such large portions.
    2) Removing food rules. Such as being ok with ice cream, candy..

  66. Sandra says:

    1- emotional eating
    2- eating when I am not hungry

  67. Cheryl says:

    Eating too many biscuits – mainly in the evening when I am not actually hungry as such. I feel I need something crunchy which only a biscuit provides.

    Wanting cake….well, yearning for cake really.

  68. Wendy says:

    Two biggest eating challenges – Emotional Eating. Second – portion control.

  69. Heather says:

    My two biggest challenges are my fatigue level and consequently cravings. When I’m exhausted my desire for sugar goes way up. And I’m exhausted a lot of the time.

  70. Tanya says:

    Cravings and grazing

  71. Kathy says:

    My two biggest challenges are:

    1. Craving sweets (primarily dark chocolate)
    2. Craving salty snacks (not as bad as #1

  72. Debbie says:

    Emotional eating and craving chocolate. I do better if I avoid chocolate all together. If I eat just 1 piece, the craving becomes much more intense.

  73. Mary says:

    Snacking and nut butter. I eat healthy but I love nut butters and put it on too many foods (bananas, apples etc).

  74. Kathleen says:

    Dieting my whole life which then created many forbidden foods.
    1. Allowing myself to eat forbidden foods, to not feel guilty and fear if may set of a bindge.

    Dieting my whole life, no meal structure and always grazing.
    2. Its a challenge to prepare meals and remember to feed myself .

  75. Al says:

    1. Impulse, “no think” eating.
    2. boredom/loneliness

  76. Hillary says:

    1- Not knowing how to stop. I eat mindfully and then get anxious/compulsive and keep going.
    2-Eating when tired.

  77. Mina says:

    Having recently had bariatric surgery, my two biggest challenges are (and were before my surgery too), mindlessly eating while preparing dinner, and then having dinner. I don’t snack between lunch and dinner so it is likely that snacking may help with this although post surgery, I am making a concerted effort not to snack while cooking. I drink copious amounts of water instead.

    In addition to this, I am learning to stop eating before I am full but I keep thinking of food even for several hours after a meal. At night, I just go to sleep to avoid eating. During the day, I have a coffee to satisfy that hand to mouth action.

  78. Linda says:

    1). Reverting back to the rigid, strict disciplines of maintenance I used for years to maintain my weight loss.

    2) Being persuaded by well meaning friends to return (with them) to rigidly imposed rules & counting to maintain weight, resulting in obsessive behavior.

  79. Coleen says:

    1) Planning/making meals
    2) Not snacking on sugar late at night

  80. Dina says:

    1. Chronic overeating!!!! Not wanting to stop eating at meals, eating too much while preparing meals, just eating to eat.
    2. Eating in response to urges.

  81. Nster says:

    1. Sweets
    2. Buffet and/or food that I didn’t have to pay for ie samples etc

  82. Melissa says:

    Excessive Snacking while I am prepping dinner so I am not hungry at meal time but proceed with eating meals anyway because it’s mealtime

    Mindless eating – I feel out of control

  83. Lisa says:

    1-I dont know how to stop eating when I am full.

    2-Portion size.

  84. Laurie says:

    1. Stress eating when I am not hungry.
    2. Nighttime eating when I wake up in the middle of the night. It can be a couple times during the night.

  85. Karen says:

    Cravings for sweets especially ice cream and wanting to snack at night.

  86. Terry says:

    Eating when feeling lonely or angry.
    Snacking in evening with TV

  87. Annette says:

    Others in my family eat at very set times, so I sit down to a whole meal when I may not even be that hungry and would have been better off with a lighter meal. Also stopping when I’m full and not going for a second helping because the food is really tasty.

  88. Adrienne says:

    Eating to fulfill emotional needs; because I’m sad or angry.
    Special occasions such as holidays/vacations.

  89. Susan says:

    1. Listening to my level of hunger when I am tired
    2. Not berating myself for being a failure when I have a run of not eating mindfullly

  90. Bev says:

    1. Procrastination – when I should be doing something else. I run to food to avoid or put off doing something else.
    2. Grazing in the evening while watching tv. I have some favorite shows but I may have to give up tv to try curb the eating.

  91. Jane says:

    1. Not being able to have a couple of squares of chocolate , eating the whole bar.
    2. Eating when I’m tired or eating at certain times of the day

  92. Kim says:

    1. Emotional eating
    2. Failure to plan meals

  93. Lynn says:

    I have a terrible time trying to resist desserts and I eat too much for a regular meal.

  94. Jane says:

    1. Daily 3:00 pm slump. I always crave a sweet or salty something in great quantities – like popcorn or corn chips or pretzels or M&Ms. At that time of day I just want to gorge on these things and it never ends well.
    2. Eating slowly and stopping when I’m comfortably full. I tend to wait too long to eat and then I’m starving and shovel food in too quickly. I don’t feel full until it’s too late.

  95. Donna says:

    I am a confirmed Chip Aholic, not sure why there is not a support group for this problem. A large bag is no challenge for a gal like me.
    The next is the calorie bomb called wine and beer, I find it hard to say no to a second and once I do the gloves are off. I am more likey to try a little this or that , which I know should not be hitting my lips and not my norm.
    Going totry to fill to the brim with water, then dig in, hopefully sending mixed signals to my tummy and stop the insanity before it begins.

  96. Lindsey says:

    My biggest challenge is snacking when I get home from work or at night before bed. I usually feel stressed or tired from work and just want to eat, then feel crappy when I go to bed or wake up early because my stomach is upset. I often crave salty foods at this time even when I know I am not physically hungry or I’ve already had a light dinner but want to keep eating.

    I also consistently struggle with portion size and eating too much, too fast.

  97. Barb says:

    I struggle with not doing something else while I eat. And thinking about food. I also pack up massive choices of food for work and time to prepare a healthy salad (which I crave and try to eat daily). Sorry that’s 4!

  98. Sharon says:

    My biggest challenge is, the open package of cookies. If a sleeve of cookies gets opened for company or grandchildren, I will, through out the course of the remaining day/evening, finish that sleeve of cookies. I have put them out of sight. Even in the freezer, it’s not something I do everyday or even once a week, it’s just annoying, that I do it when I do.
    My second challenge is eating enough throughout the day to keep my body in working mode vs starvation mode .

  99. Carolyn says:

    1. I’m vegan so really trying to find foods that satisfy my hunger is a big thing. I don’t get enough protein and really not enough nutrients needed. I’m working on finding good foods and good foods to eat that will make sure I live healthy.

    2. I worry about how much I eat now because I want to stay skinny. I’m working on listening to my body and making sure I eat when I need to to fuel my body and give me energy.

  100. Brook says:

    Portion control
    Secret eating right before going to bed

  101. martha says:

    Not taking things out the night before to thaw.
    Having a extremely busy schedule

  102. Robin says:

    I eat way too much (of junk food) when I am tired, overworked, or stressed.

    Taking the time to meal prep.

  103. Mike says:

    My spouse has Lewy Body dementia. So stress eating is a problem.

    My second issue is that life’s new distractions create a lack of awareness.

  104. Pam says:

    Eating when I’m not hungry, and eating food that looks good just because it’s out, weather at home or elsewhere

  105. Julie says:

    My biggest challenge is when I have had a bad day or I am feeling down. The second would be in the evening watching tv

  106. Patty says:

    My greatest challenge and always has been- my husband. He seems to lose weight much easier than I can. In the past years he has lost about 30lbs! however, he usually only eats
    one meal per day, and is so active doing outside work. I feel like i lose the weight so slowly and feel guilty when I eat…

    My second is that I want to eat like a thin person, but I am not thin! I like to have a beer in the evening during summer, and love mexican food!!! Thank you for allowing me to share.

  107. Kim says:

    1. stress eating, or when I’ve had a rough day
    2. portion sizes

  108. Rita R says:

    1.eating in the afternoon when I am tied to my desk, not sure if it is boredom or just a desire to get away from the desk and move around
    2. Eating late in the evening, my husband works late and eats dinner late, I seem to have to eat something then even if I have eaten earlier , especially eating bread.

  109. Barbara T. says:

    Finding low calorie, low fat foods that I can take to work for lunch that consists of more than just the same old thing. I think it would help me a great deal if I has more variety.

  110. Cathy says:

    I have no real sense of what a “normal” day of eating would be anymore. It seems like there is always something wrong with whatever it is I eat. I always feel like I am cheating or eating the wrong thing.
    Eating out.

  111. Barb says:

    1. Free food at the office
    2. mindless eating in the evening when I am not really hungry, especially if I am sitting at the computer.

  112. Connie says:

    Eating with people who restrict makes me want to eat. Eating for comfort.

  113. LisaAnn says:

    Core beliefs that got me through tough times in childhood, but are no longer serving me. Believing that if you take away the eating disorder, I will be erased.

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