Are you familiar with a situation when in the middle of writing an important email or picking your phone for a call, you suddenly distract yourself by eating something? I caught myself doing this. Why does it happen to me and you? The answer is procrastination. When you have to accomplish something, you don’t want to do, you try to avoid it. Eating is a convenient way to avoid doing something that is perceived as stressful, unpleasant or hard.
How procrastination is connected to overeating?
The problem with procrastination by eating is that you usually eat when you are not hungry. In this case, excess energy you get from food goes to your fat cells. (Learn more about what happens on physiological level when you overeat). Right after eating, you probably get short moments of relaxation. However, later you usually become anxious and stressed about your overeating.
Role of decision making in overeating
There are many reasons why we procrastinate. I think the most common is that we want to avoid making decisions. In some situations, we can’t make a choice right away because we experience inner obstacles such as anxiety, fear, lack of confidence, uncertainty, and so on. On one hand we want to accomplish something, on another hand we face many unpleasant feelings. Food helps us to escape from that inner conflict and unpleasant experience.
For example, you need to call your friend and say that you can’t care about her dog while your friend on vacation. Your friend will be upset by this news. You want to help her, but you will be extremely busy at that time with your projects. You have no idea what words to use for making this conversation easier than it could be. You look at the cell phone on your table, experience resistance and discomfort, and go to the kitchen. While eating cookies, you think “I’ll call her later” and relax.
We live in the world with abundance of choices. We have to do hundreds of decisions daily. It can be extremely stressful and described as a “decision fatigue”. Even small things might contribute to decision fatigue and higher stress. What to wear today? What to eat for lunch? What shampoo to buy? How to react in this situation? And so on. If you usually minimize decision fatigue by eating, you might gain extra weight or struggle with losing extra pounds. It is crucial to find other ways to cope with stress from decision making process.
How to break habit of using food for procrastination and lose weight
The first step in stopping procrastination eating is to become aware and notice when you avoid something by eating. Ask yourself “Why do I want to eat right now?”.
The second step is to find other ways to decrease high level of stress and to tolerate mild stress which all of us face in a daily life. For example, you can use breathing technique for relaxation – close your eyes, inhale fast and then exhale slowly, repeat five times.
The third step is to implement those other coping mechanisms and change the habit of eating for procrastination. Meet with Elena for a consultaion to learn more.