The Top 6 Associations for Overeating

We don't always eat because we are genuinely hungry. Often we have created an association with eating, and it can lead to junk food. Whether or not you attend the next workshop Retrain Your Brain for New Eating Habits on Saturday 10th February 2018, here are the top six eating associations, which can help you to identify and target those triggers which are relevant to you. The psychologist Pavlov would call these conditioned responses (remember the bell causing the dog to salivate? What's ringing your bell?.  

  1. Association with time. The urge to eat poor quality food can arrive at a specific time of day, such as mid morning, afternoon or early evening. We might call it a snack or justify it by wanting an energy boost. The question is: is it real hunger? If so, is this best thing to eat?
  2. Association with another food. You may eat a good meal but then feel the need to follow it up with something sweet i.e. loaded with sugar. It's a myth that you are born with a sweet tooth, and I'm sorry if you have justified your craving that way. It's an association you have created over time with sugar, which has addictive qualities.
  3.  Association with the same food. Once you start eating you may feel compelled to eat more of the same. The appetite increases after you start eating. This can apply to wheat based foods such as bread and pasta or fat based foods.
  4. Association with drinks. You may have created an association to eat with tea, coffee, alcohol or other drinks. Not only does alcohol have zero nutrition it encourages overeating.
  5. Association with feeling states. Feeling stressed, depressed or just tired can trigger a desire to put food in your mouth, with the belief that you need it.
  6. Association with occasion. This is not just big occasions such as weddings, parties and holidays. An occasion can be simply a weekend. "It's Friday night". Even meetings or training courses, when you might eat more biscuits or pastries than normal. 

How do you break the association?

It can be like changing the clocks to summer time. Difficult at first, but once you repeat the new pattern enough times it becomes established. However it's not always that easy, depending on the strength of the compulsion and the surrounding denial and justification that can go with it.

Instead of attempting to change the behaviour to retrain your brain, you can do it the other way around. If you have learned EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) you will know how to tune into the feeling or urge which is attached to the association, and then clear it. This makes a huge difference and can be used alongside an NLP mental rehearsal technique such as the New Behaviour Generator to install new eating patterns. This means that you eat better quality food, and not junk.

The workshop Retrain Your Brain for New Eating Habits is where you can learn about dealing with these and other issues. Feel free to let me know if you have any queries or want to add to my list!

I am based in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, which is convenient for Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford, Coventry, and other areas in the Midlands, UK.