Today you are going to learn the 3 deepest reasons why you eat so much all of a sudden.
These 3 deeper reasons are mindsets, and mindsets are meant to complement healthy behaviors.
So yes, healthy behaviors like eating balanced meals and using your journal to release stress are important.
But all the healthy behaviors in the world won’t matter 1 drop if you lack the right mindsets.
In this post today you are going to go DEEPER to really understand why ya sometimes eat too much:
- The Three Foundational Reasons You Eat Too Much Out Of The Blue
- How Your Survival Brain Hijacks You
- Why You Can’t Control Your Survival Brain
- The 3 Elements Of A Food Explosion Habit
- Why Random Little Things Set You Off
Please Note This Post Focuses On The Deeper Mindsets.
Eating healthy meals, moving your body, sleeping, etc … These healthy behaviors are all part of health, wellness and vitality.
But at Eating Enlightenment, we realize that without mindsets guiding us, our healthy behaviors will fall flat.
For example, let’s say you ask your athletic friend who knows all about health.
He or she tells you to eat more protein. Protein will keep you full, he or she says.
Then you won’t want to overeat. It’s that simple, he or she says.
Greatttttt….(you politely nod your head and pretend like this is all new information to you).
And maybe for a moment, you get re-motivated again …
- You cook up some chicken breasts.
- You eat 3 square meals for a day and feel great.
But then something happens. Gosh darn it, something always happens! Grrr 🙁
For whatever reason, you’re back at it. You’ve overeaten, again!!!
You’re dumbfounded. You just ate an entire pizza without really assessing whether you’re hungry or how you feel, you just walk to the fridge, pull out that leftover pizza, and quickly scarf it down.
It’s like you were working on the computer …
And then all of a sudden you had finished the entire pizza!
You didn’t even have a chance to think about eating the pizza beforehand!!!! You just lost control and went on autopilot!!!
Maybe you can feel pizza cravings calling your name like a ghost with a sick sense of humor.
“Go eat pizza … or I’ll haunt your dreams!”
You know you won’t be able to get pizza thoughts out of your head so … the hell with it. Nom nom nom … (you know the story).
Ok? You get the point.
And the same thing is true with other healthy behaviors like:
- Meal prepping
- Meal planning
- Getting Proper Amounts Of Macronutrients
- Eating balanced meals
All these healthy behaviors will fall flat if we are missing the deeper mindsets…
The Three Foundational Reasons You Eat Too Much Out Of The Blue
The first two reasons are:
- Biological and Physiological Needs
There’s no way around these two reasons. No magic trick.
You can’t ever have a meal plan perfect enough if you haven’t adequately addressed these 2 needs at the bottom two layers of this pyramid.
If you are missing the two bottom layers …
That’s when your survival brain is primed to take over your conscious mind, and make you overeat!
That’s why you are eating so much all of a sudden!
Your survival ‘reptilian’ brain is the 3rd deeper reason you eat so much all of a sudden, along with 1) physical food needs and 2) emotional safety needs.
Author’s Note – at this point it will be helpful to examine more in depth about how the survival brain works. I realize there are remaining questions like “why is the survival mind drawn towards food in extreme amounts?” or ”why do random events trigger overeating? These are great questions that will be answered, but first let’s get a grip on your survival brain. Without an understanding of these mindsets/emotional needs, healthy behaviors are bound to fail.
Your Survival Brain Shuts Down Your Thinking Brain
Have you ever heard of tunnel vision?
You know when you’re staring at the pizza box wondering how the hell you ate that entire pizza?
Like you don’t have any memory of eating the pizza? You just ate without consciously eating it?
That’s a sign your survival, reptilian brain has hijacked you.
It’s called tunnel vision.
Sometimes tunnel vision can be incredibly scary…
I can vividly remember this feeling in my gut and brain where I would be aware that my conscious brain was shutting down … and my animal brain was turning on.
And it’s like tunnel vision can feel like it’s squeezingggggg you. Like a pressure cooker.
This is why there can be sooo much friggin’ anxiety around food!
It’s like your very own stomach is being gripped by the world’s strongest person!
Tunnel vision is the hallmark sign of your reptilian (or sometimes called monkey) survival brain taking over your conscious mind.
Traditionally speaking, the survival brain operates in ‘fight or flight’.
But modern science has recognized that there are 2 other signs of survival brain taking over your conscious mind:
- Floating (like disassociation)
- Freezing (another form of disassociation)
These two signs of the survival mind are like ‘autopilot’.
You don’t need to be anxious for your survival mind to have taken over. You can be disconnected too.
But whether you are fleeing, fighting, freezing, floating, etc …
Tunnel vision is always there.
And what’s happening with tunnel vision …
Is literally your ‘higher’ brain, your thinking brain, is getting shut down by your survival brain.
You Can’t Control Your Survival Brain
The worst part is, you cannot control your survival brain.
You can’t ‘think’ your way out of the survival brain.
You can’t, and that’s scary as hell. That’s why people can’t stop thinking about food.
It’s why people get so anxious when they start getting cravings.
You know your survival brain is gonna win.
It’s going to win, it’s going to make you black out, and that’s scary as hell.
It can feel like the alien from Ridley Scott’s Alien …
Like pressure is building up in your chest and it’s going to burst out no matter what! Ewww…
You can’t control your survival brain.
You just can’t. And here’s the point:
If you haven’t adequately addressed these needs, the two foundational needs – food and safety – your survival brain is primed to take over.
If you are lacking food and safety, it’s like having a small fire that’s always burning.
Manageable but ok.
Yet, throw on some coronavirus, throw on some life stressors, a project deadline, a kid screaming …
LIFE, I believe it’s called. It’s stressful. Eventually a spark of stress is going to get mixed in with that small fire …
So you take that little spark of stress, mix it with the small fire and …
Small fire + gasoline = SURVIVAL MIND BINGE / EMOTIONAL EATING
Food Is A Temporary ‘Safety’ Reward For Your Survival Brain
So why does the survival mind go on a binge explosion of food?
Like if you’re two foundational mindset needs ( physical needs and safety needs) are not met …
Why lose control and eat food?
Coming back to the original question …
Why am I eating so much all of a sudden?
It’s because food is a temporary safety reward for your survival brain.
Remember your survival brain is just trying to survive.
It’s doing its best to keep you safe and well-fed.
So when you aren’t feeling safe and well-fed …
Your survival mind takes control over your thinking brain …
And makes you eat tons of food. Makes you.
Remember, you can’t control this. That’s why you’re asking ‘why am I eating so much all a sudden?!?!’
For a day or two you can ‘be good’ and eat healthy …
But eventually you will give in.
And the reason you give into food is because food is a reward.
Remember how survival mind works?
Remember tunnel vision?
It forces your thinking mind to shut down…
So that you can:
- Stop worrying
- Stop stressing
- Distract yourself from the rough edges of your life
- Soothe your emotions with sugary food
- Slow down and calm down
And even though tunnel vision can be anxiety provoking (or mind numbing) …
Food mimics safety.
For years food has given you tons of rewards that mimicked the two fundamental needs (physical needs and emotional safety needs).
When you eat a ton of food, you:
- Aren’t going to die of starvation
- You temporarily feel warm
- Your brain and body slows down afterwards. which mimics sleep
- You shut down your thinking mind and stop worrying, which mimics safety
Can you see how food has become a replacement for your fundamental needs?
If you don’t understand these aspects of your fundamental needs and survival mind, you won’t be able to stop no matter how healthy you try to be!
Habits Explain Why Random Little Things Set You Off All Of A Sudden
Let’s start off with an easy to understand habit, and then we’ll transition to emotional eating.
For starters, how much mental energy do you need to brush your teeth?
Like zero mental energy, right? You can brush your teeth without even thinking!
But what if you switch to your opposite hand and then try brushing your teeth?
It’s a lot harder! When you switch up your routines, it takes a lot more mental energy!
Brushing your teeth with the opposite hand:
- Takes more energy and thought
- Is annoying and frustrating
Because brushing your teeth with a different routine is annoying …
So typically we don’t change our habits. We keep the same tooth brushing habits for years.
And then, by keeping our habits the same for years, they become automatic.
We brush our teeth without thinking.
Emotional Eating Is Like Brushing Your Teeth
Years ago you began emotionally eating.
You probably began pretty innocently.
You were stressed, had a test back in school, or life just was busy …
And so you ate some food, and your survival brain put two and two together …
Food made you feel good, distracted, soothed, etc …
Your survival brain realized food had a lot of rewards!
So … if food mimics safety, physical needs, …
Why not turn to food for every little stressor?
At first you probably didn’t even notice you were reaching for the pizza when you were stressed before your big tests at school.
A few years go by …
And emotional eating slowly keeps becoming more of a habit …
Emotional eating becomes like brushing your teeth. You do it without even thinking about it.
Little Stressors Set You Off All Of A Sudden
Remember the small fire?
Remember that when you are not adequately getting your 1) physical needs and 2) safety needs …
Then it’s like having a small fire burning all the time?
When you have this small fire …
Plus a powerful emotional eating habit …
It just is pretty easy to turn to food. It doesn’t take much to set you off.
That’s another reason why you are eating so much all of a sudden…
If a little thing bugs your survival mind …
A random text message, project deadline, expensive bill, rude friend …
It can turn to food.
Even if your rational brain isn’t that worried or concerned, you “know” that things will be ok …
Remember, your survival brain is on fire.
Why Am I Eating So Much All Of A Sudden Recap
Ok, let’s recap this article.
For starters, there’s a little fire going at all times.
This little fire is when you aren’t meeting your 1) physical needs and 2) emotional needs for safety.
A while ago you began emotional eating for whatever reason…
The survival part of your brain quickly figured out that eating food can provide, temporarily, for many of your needs…
So your emotional eating became reinforced with rewards.
And when you have these unmet needs, along with the reinforced habit, then all it takes is a little spark.
And that’s why you keep eating so much all of a sudden.
*In rare cases you can have a medical condition, but the vast majority of people will fall within the above principles*
Now admittedly, feeling out of control and eating all of a sudden can be a complex problem.
If you’re curious regaining control around food, be sure to check out my 3 month program to stop binge eating.
The program is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT is considered the first line treatment option for Binge Eating Disorder.
Perhaps the best part about CBT is simplicity! You basically just keep an Awareness Journal around food.
Not a calorie journal or weight diary, but where you record your thoughts and emotions around food.
Have you ever recorded your thoughts around food?
While most people have logged food, calories or weight … usually recording thoughts is a new and refreshing change of pace where you actually get results too!
I’d encourage you to quickly google Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for yourself because CBT is simple and really works!
For example, you can see this woman here who binged for 40 years and then stopped in a few months with CBT strategies.
Get more details here if you’d like to learn more about the 3 month binge eating treatment program.