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Weekenditis and nighttime overeating – Part II

 

Curing Weekenditis

 

Last week we have talked about the symptoms and problems of weekend overeating. This week let’s look at the cure for this problem. Each of these virulent little critters, one by one, and talks about solutions.

 

Infection 1: Perfectionism

Treatment: Be “good enough”.

The descent method you follow is better than the perfect method you quit.

Be reasonable and sane with your food (and alcohol) intake, and include foods you enjoy as often as possible.

 

Allow yourself to be “good enough”. Because you are good enough.

Instead of “perfect”, try for “just a little bit better”.

Instead of “the best choice”, try for “a wise choice”. Or “a kind and loving choice”.

 

Infection 2: All-or-nothing

Treatment: Operate along a spectrum of possible options.

All-or-nothing thinking gives you two options: perfect or failure.

In reality, there’s a continuum. What are the “pretty good” or “not too bad” options?

Is there an option that — again — is “just a little bit better”?

 

Infection 3: Good-bad trade-offs

Treatment: Come back to your grown-up values.

Trading off “good” and “bad” is for little kids and convicts.

Forget about “good” versus “bad” — instead, come back to your adult values and deeper principles when you sit down to eat.

Be wise, loving, kind, and sane.

 

Infection 4: The Screw It Effect

Treatment: Learn your own physical hunger and fullness cues. Notice when, where, and how you’re likely to say “Screw it!”

Otherwise known as “disinhibition”, the “Screw It Effect” is actually caused by “food rules”.

Non-dieters (i.e. normal eaters) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full.

They don’t have strict “rules” about what, when, where, and how they eat.

They eat to their right level of “full” and rarely to “stuffed”.

 

No matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, a family dinner or cocktail party, they eat according to internal cues and their values (say, a stronger, leaner, healthier body).

If you keep trying to follow rigid external rules and prohibitions, it will almost always inevitably lead to overeating crap.

Because once we deviate from “the rules”, as everyone does, we have nothing left to guide us.

 

Infection 5: Cheat Day

Treatment: Cultivate an abundance mindset.

Some people find the idea of relaxing with eating once per week useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then we applaud you on finding a worthwhile strategy.

But for most clients, having one “cheat day” means the rest of the week is food purgatory.

Like the Screw It Effect, Cheat Day depends on scarcity.

Scarcity makes us feel anxious, needy, and greedy.

 

So if someone says “I can only have food X on Sunday”, this might just fuel the idea of overeating food X because they know they “can’t” eat X for another six days.

Abundance, on the other hand, allows us to feel calm, satisfied and fulfilled.

You can know: There’s always enough food. And simply say, “Not right now.”

 

Infection 6: Scripts and stories

Treatment: Notice (and challenge) the stories you’re telling yourself.

We all come up with stories to explain why we do things. That’s how brains work — they try to make sense of things.

Except brains sometimes focus on the wrong reasons. Tell stories that aren’t true.

Our brains may tell us that we eat because we’re busy, or bored, or traveling, or working (or not working), or having family dinners (or eating alone), or any number of other “causes” that sound perfectly logical.

These stories make sense.

 

We can see “evidence” that these stories are “true”. (“I always over-eat when I’m at mom’s house, so that must mean mom’s house is responsible.”)

But these stories often start to make us feel like we don’t have choices. Like we can’t control our actions. Like we’re victims of circumstances.

This makes us feel powerless and afraid of ourselves. Or of situations.

(Now we worry about going to mom’s house. Our over-eating “because” of mom’s house becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.)

 

The alternative here:

 

  • Accept and allow the feelings, thoughts, and urges you may have in certain situations — these may not change.
  • Notice when we are telling stories or playing out familiar scripts — don’t judge them, just notice them.
  • Consider how much control we actually do have over our actions. Is it absolutely true that mom’s house “makes” you eat?

 

 

Infection 7: The void

Treatment: Get out of your head and into your life.

The rush and jangling noise of the busy week/day drowns out quieter things.

Like alone-ness and lack of real connections. Lack of meaning. Lack of purpose.

Reaching for a snack or a glass of wine is better than facing the emptiness, or sadness, or loneliness.

We know. It hurts sometimes. Or just feels like nothing.

The antidote: Do something.

 

If you’re lonely, reach out. Help others. Find a way to share your kindness and care, and to build relationships that really matter.

If you’re feeling adrift, start chasing a purpose that excites you. It could be a Big Thrilling Project. Or it could be a few minutes of a quiet hobby.

If you find yourself gazing into the void regularly, add meaningful activity to your weekends/evenings.

 

The activity doesn’t even need to be pleasurable. It might even be uncomfortable, like taking a new class.

Importantly: Don’t just add more quantity. You probably don’t need to be more busy. Or add more noise.

Instead: Add more quality. A few more minutes of something meaningful and soul-filling will go a long way.

 

Putting it into practice: Making complete, wise, and loving choices

Here’s one more way to start treating Weekenditis (or Eveningitis):

Make complete, wise, and loving choices.

A complete choice is one that understands all the trade-offs, now and in the future.

A wise choice is one that steps back and considers the options.

A loving choice is one that is kind and caring — that tries to take care of YOU.

 

If it happens to be a weekend or evening, and you notice yourself drifting towards a familiar story (like “I need to treat myself”), this is a red alert.

Pause. Take a moment. Breathe.

 

Let your wise and kind grownup-woman brain kick in.

Consider all the options and angles. What will you feel now? An hour from now? Tomorrow?

What are you willing to trade, and why?

Then choose (notice that word) accordingly. And consciously. Think through to consequences.

Decide what your “deal” is. What your priorities are, and what you’re willing to trade.

 

For example:

“Right now, I need some stress relief. I feel out of options, so I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream. I know I’ll feel nauseated and guilty afterward… but I accept these consequences. Right now, getting a break from my feelings is my priority.”

Importantly:

You’re free to eat and drink anything you want.

YOU choose YOUR behavior.

Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes.

Your call.

Stuff to think about

Here’s a little thought experiment for the upcoming weekend.

For weekend overeaters: Think back to when you had a weekend of eating that went well. What was different? And how can you do more of that?

For nighttime overeaters: Think back to when you had an evening of eating that went well. What was different? And how can you do more of that?

What to do today

 

Review the symptoms of Weekenditis.

(Or Eveningitis.)

You’re looking for:

 

  • Perfectionism and strict rules
  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Good-bad tradeoffs
  • The “Screw It Effect”
  • Cheat Day
  • Scripts and stories
  • Avoiding the void

 

See whether you recognize yourself.

Do the symptoms of Weekenditis (or Eveningitis) sound familiar?

Even a little?

Decide whether Weekenditis is working for you.

If you’re loving your Cheat Day or evening munchies, and it’s definitely giving you the body you want, then keep doing it.

If you’re conflicted, time to investigate further.

Try a thought experiment.

If you’re someone who struggles to eat well, or not drink too much, on evenings and/or weekends:

 

  • When have you eaten well (or been OK with just a few drinks) during evenings or weekends?
  • What was different?
  • How could you do more of that?

 

Put yourself in charge.

Remember: YOU are in charge of YOU.

Make complete, wise, kind — and grown-up — choices.

Notice when you’re playing out familiar scripts or telling old stories. Could you revise those stories… even just a little?

 


 

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