If you’re a woman in her 50s and beyond, you probably already know all the things you “should” be doing to keep weight and eating in check.
As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has helped many women overcome indulgent eating and has personally struggled with eating for comfort and zoning out, I have a lot of empathy when I hear this scenario:
Despite all the dieting knowledge, you find yourself night after night with a pint of ice cream (or more) in front of the TV. In daylight, you beat yourself up for poor eating and later are filled with shame when the doctor brings up your weight during a check-up (unless you avoid the doctor for fear of that shame).
If I’ve just described your situation, or close to it, chin up, my friend. Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to overcome indulgent eating so you can lose weight. It is my hope you will be able to see beyond the self-blame to actual solutions to your struggle.
I’ve got news for you. The reason you struggle with food and weight has very little to do with self-control!
Instead, the problem is All or Nothing Dieting, where you either believe you have to “eat perfectly” or “what’s the point?”.
The most prevalent plan for weight loss today, All or Nothing Dieting, disconnects you from your body and emotions, blaming you when you inevitably backslide to “all” the eating.
When you take the focus off berating yourself for every slip-up, you’re able to productively problem-solve.
In the moment of a craving, where you are doing the mental gymnastics to justify the eating (“I don’t really care about changing anyway, what’s one time going to matter?”), whether you are aware of it or not, your body is experiencing panic.
This panic, along with food anxiety, is a sign your nervous system is activated. Research shows an activated nervous system leads to more food cravings and eating less healthy, comforting foods.
And All or Nothing Dieting? The restriction activates your nervous system, too.
All or Nothing Dieting rewards you for skipping meals or eating very little. And that usually backfires as your hunger catches up to you, and when paired with anxiety that results from unstable blood sugar, you’ve got a recipe for panic eating.
Eating enough food during the day to meet your energy and nutrition needs can go a long way to curbing indulgent eating, especially if you struggle with late afternoon or nighttime eating.
Most women over 50 are served well by focusing on protein intake to preserve muscle and bone health and eating an abundance of produce for its disease-fighting properties. You can consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to get specific nutrient recommendations.
Many people believe their eating or cravings are mindless or habitual, when actually food cravings are a signal from your body about an underlying need.
The reason you may be unaware of the emotional need your cravings are signaling is because indulging with food gives you a rush of feel-good dopamine, effectively numbing the underlying discomfort (especially when eating takes the form of binging).
It is possible to discern your emotional needs and care for them when they surface so the food craving never occurs.
Hopefully, by now you can see that your indulgent eating is not happening because you are lazy, but rather as a result of All or Nothing Dieting which stops you from trusting yourself around food because it changes your mental and biological responses to eating.
The tips I’ve shared today are all steps on the journey to cultivate the Courage to Trust yourself again.
With the Courage to Trust, you can create calm, consistently healthy eating patterns that leave you feeling peaceful and free in your body, with the confidence you are doing everything you can for your health.
You can start your journey towards cultivating the Courage to Trust by downloading this 10-minute audio guide to stop your food craving from turning into indulgent eating today!
When do you notice a spike in your food cravings? Do you think you can control it? What have you tried? Would you try to calm your nervous system and develop the courage to trust yourself?
I’m a night time eater. After my normal meal, I will eat Melba toast, cheese, bread, fruit – whatever is available. It is as if I just can’t stop. I eat very little during the day – I’m just not hungry. At least I don’t keep sweets, chips etc in my house.
I’ll be 76 in January and live by myself in a Retirement Village. Every day I say to myself tomorrow!! – but tomorrow is exactly the same.
Thanks for sharing your experience Pauline, you are certainly not alone! As women, we’ve often been taught that not eating is a virtue when in reality eating is a biological necessity. When helping women cultivate the Courage to Trust their bodies I will often recommend an experiment: eating regularly throughout the day with a focus on protein and fiber. Often times taking care of basic sustenance needs solve the problem of after-dinner munchies. Of course, this issue can get more complicated if medications or conditions are decreasing appetite (or increasing, too!), and that’s when working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is important. You’re welcome to request a free call with me if you’d like to work with me: https://cassiechristopher.net/courage-to-trust-method/