I grew up thin. Actually, by most standards, skinny. I never had to watch my weight. I was super active and ate whatever I wanted. It all changed when I got pregnant.
We all have our stories. Some of us struggled our whole life with weight. Some of us gained during pregnancy and never lost it. And, still others gained during menopause. When weight gain happened doesn’t really matter. What matters is how we gained it, and we ALL gained it the same way, overeating.
In the words of the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime…
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?
Sorry, I know it’s stuck in your head now. But, truly, we all got here by eating more than our body required for fuel. Period.
The most common reason people begin the overeating cycle is to make themselves feel better. Whether it’s boredom, sadness, confusion, overwhelm, stress, or some other negative emotion, food was the answer. Food provides the brain with hormones that make you feel better. Our brain is highly evolved and will seek pleasure over pain. It’s programmed to look for pleasure hormones.
It’s not our fault we look to food to feel better. We’re programmed to do it. What starts as a snack in the afternoon, or some ice cream after dinner, can soon turn into a habit. And it’s a habit that becomes hard to break.
I’ll bet some of you have had a day or two like this. Wake up, weigh yourself, very unhappy with the number on the scale, and you overeat all day long to feel better. Then you wake up the next day, the number on the scale has increased, and the cycle starts again. Ugh.
That cycle proves just how much pleasure hormones our brain gets from eating. Even when our logical brain knows that eating too much food causes our weight to increase.
So, how did I get here? The first step in figuring that out is to document what you’re currently eating. Each day for the next week, write down absolutely everything you eat AND drink. Exactly what you eat at each meal. Write down all the little bites between meals, you know, the breath mint after lunch, the last bite of mac and cheese from your kid’s plate, the potato chips from the vending machine, your daily Café Mocha. Review your entries. Visualize all the food on a dinner plate. Get a really good picture of EXACTLY what you eat. The more data you have, the more informed your decisions can be.
Now that you know how you got here, what will you do about it? Where do you want to go?