Overcoming Overeating: Are you deprived or depleted?

Have you ever been to a party, zone in on the dessert table and start thinking about which ones you’re going to sample? You want to stay “in control” of what you eat because you don’t want to overindulge too much, but you also don’t want to feel deprived or depleted. The second you think of limiting yourself to one or two desserts, you dig your heels in and feel the urge to rebel.

What if the deprivation you’re afraid of feeling from only having one dessert is actually something else?

This was an experience a client had at a social gathering. She found herself eating carrot cake she didn’t really want but she didn’t know why she couldn’t stop. She was confused because she knew she had a choice and could eat the carrot cake and cupcakes if she truly wanted to, so she didn’t think she was feeling deprived.

What Makes You Want to Overeat?

After exploring the situation, what we uncovered was she was feeling depleted and deprived from not having time to herself. She had just gotten back from being with her family, which tends to deplete her. The reason she comes home feeling depleted is because she typically accommodates her family and doesn’t use her voice. She also feels like she wants to control situations that are outside of her control, and when she’s not able to control them or share her perspective about the situation, she feels stifled.

So, the deprivation she thought she would feel from not eating the carrot cake was really about feeling deprived and stifled throughout the previous week from not using her voice and feeling depleted emotionally and physically. The sugar was a way to refuel herself and to bring her pleasure she was lacking elsewhere.

How to Overcome Overeating without Feeling Deprived

When we look at food and eating out of alignment with our goals as a symptom and protective behavior, we can bring curiosity as to what we’re really craving. Once we have clarity, we can see we actually have other options we may not be considering when we’re operating in automatic pilot. Then we don’t need to rely on food to try to fill a void, make us feel better, or provide satisfaction.

The next time you’re feeling depleted or deprived, ask yourself:

  • What will help me recharge and feel replenished?
  • If you’re feeling stifled from not using your voice, how can you experiment speaking up for your needs in small ways? When doing this, think about how you want the situation to end and how you can come to a collaborative solution if another person is involved. (Hint: If you don’t know what the other person needs you may need to ask).

What you think might be lack of self-control or discipline around food, is often a symptom there is something else that needs to be explored.

To continue this exploration and learn more about what leads you to overeat at parties, check out the “Healthy Relationship with Food Masterclass.” In this pre-recorded 45-minute training, you’ll dive into what’s really leading you to overeat, so you can finally figure out this “food thing,” even though you already have so much information.

Imagine being able to go to a social gathering where you don’t feel called to the food table and are able to fully enjoy connecting with those around you. No guilt or thinking about your food choices for the days that follow. It’s not a pipe dream…it is possible!


How can I eat less at parties without feeling deprived?

Do you ever go to a party and get excited about what food is going to be there? You start planning for all the “treats” you’re going to eat that you don’t get to enjoy often. In that case, the food is center stage.

The next time you’re going to an event, if you notice you’re thinking about the food, pause and check in by asking, ‘what’s important to me about this event?’ or ‘how do I want it to end?’ Often when asking clients this question, some form of connection is what comes up (but see what comes up for you). Depending on what you discover, check in to see if the food is as important, or if it takes a backseat and becomes more of an accessory.

Then, when you’re at the event, if you focus on what you identified as important to you, what happens to your cravings and eating? Do you end up eating less?

What are ways to not compulsively overeat at parties?

If you feel like you always overeat at parties, it likely isn’t because you’re lacking willpower or discipline. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the food around you. However, if you experience a lot of guilt, eat when you aren’t hungry, and can’t stop thinking about the food, that’s where we want to explore further.

If you think back to the last time you overate at a party, what was happening before you ate? Think about everything that happened during the day leading up to when you overate. Don’t think about the specific circumstance. Instead, was there anything that was stressful? If so, what did you make each of those situations mean about you?

For example, if you didn’t know many people at the event, what did you make it mean about you? Or, if your clothes weren’t fitting before you left, what did that trigger in you?

Based on the above, why did your overeating make sense? Once you know that, it will help you explore what triggers your eating the next time around.

About Laura:

Laura is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and holds a certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). She has supported over 125 clients who know what they should be eating but have a hard time sticking to it by helping them identify the familiar patterns keeping them stuck so they can radically transform their relationship with food.

Laura is a facilitator of the research-based Truce with Food® process, which helps clients achieve sustainable results by getting to the bottom of why they fall off track and aren’t able to remain consistent. She’s also the creator of the self-paced course, “Behind Your Cravings”.

After successfully losing 60 pounds and working through her own emotional relationship with food, Laura’s mission became helping others get to the bottom of their self-sabotaging patterns.

Laura coaches clients one-on-one, in small groups, runs workshops, speaks at summits and conferences, and has been featured in Voyage Chicago. Laura can be contacted at [email protected].

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