Ep. 278: What To Do When You Overeat

Ready to change your mind about weight loss? Grab The 5-0 Method to lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.

Eating “off-target” (overeating *or* undereating!) is something we all experience on our weight loss journey. In this episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast, I’ve got the goods on how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

You know the scene: you’re getting together with family or friends and before you go, you have every intention of eating to your weight loss calorie target. But then you get there, and… somehow you find yourself eating way over (or under!) your plan.

What happened?

My friend, there’s a very simple system at work here — so simple that I call it “The Wheel,” and you can learn all about it here: https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/the-wheel/. In a nutshell, your brain is doing exactly what brains do, and nothing has gone wrong!

In this week’s episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast, I’m sharing my own experiences with overeating, a framework for understanding why you “find yourself” overeating, and the mindset trick that will help you stop overeating in its tracks.

What You’ll Learn:

  • WHY we do things we don’t intend to do
  • The REAL REASON it’s hard to stay on target with your calories, and
  • HOW to eat the way you want to, every time

Yes, you should definitely give yourself grace for the times when you overeat, and – armed with the knowledge and advice from this episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast – you can also ensure that you eat the way you want to in the future. Listen now and let’s get your GOAL.


Hey GOALfriends, welcome to episode number 278 where we are talking about what to do when you overeat. And let's just start right there with the title. I know you noticed it because I didn't say the word if it's not what to do, if you overeat, it's what to do when you overeat and I really specifically use the word overeat because this tends to be more my problem. Therefore, I can share some stories with you about how this happens to me and when it happens and all those sorts of things. But I want you to know that the word undereat could just as easily be used in that title depending on which way you tend to come at weight loss yourself. Whether or not you are one of my friends who really, really struggles to get all the way up to your calorie target or if you are one of my friends who really, really struggles to get down to your calorie target. Either way, this episode is for you at some point in time. And in fact here, I'm gonna even open it up to being much more broad than to have anything to do with eating. Truly, anytime you find yourself doing something or not doing something that you had really intended to do, like any of the five steps of the 5-0 Method, if you find yourself staying up too late or not drinking your water or over exercising, whatever it is, what we're talking about today totally applies to you. And really, where I even started going with this is that the reason that I use the word when is that you're going to, and if you take nothing else away from this episode, please, please, please take away this. Nothing has gone wrong when you are struggling to meet your targets, nothing has ever gone wrong on your journey. The reason these things happen is simply because, and I'm gonna, okay, , I'm backpedaling before the words even come out of my mouth. No, you know what? I'm gonna say the sentence and then I'm gonna backpedal. The reason these things happen is because we're not paying attention. And further to that, that not paying attention, I want you to hear that in a way that doesn't sound judgmental, even though I know that upon first listen, it totally sounds judgmental. It sounds like I'm telling you you're not paying attention when you are. You're trying so hard. What I mean is that there are so many thoughts in our head that create feelings that drive actions that we cannot pay attention to them all until they draw our attention to them. When we notice ourselves either doing something or not doing something that we had intended to do. That sentence, the reason this happened is because you weren't paying attention is actually really intended as being empowering that you have the ability to pay attention and you weren't. It's totally okay and I'm gonna teach you how. It's so funny. I have this year on my regular , my non podcast YouTube channel. I'm putting out a short video every single day of the year and I put out a video, oh gosh, this was quite some time ago now, where I was talking about actually something that we had talked about in an entire podcast about how like the real guarantee of weight loss is you, that you have all the power all the time to make all the choices. It's totally up to you and within you to be able to do this. Like, you are the guarantee. And I had somebody leave me a comment that said I, I'm not quoting verbatim. It was something along the lines of, so you're telling me it's all my fault? Thanks, with the little eye roll emoji. I went back and watched that video like three or four times. I was like, how did you hear me saying it's all your fault when what I was telling you is that you could totally do it. So where I'm going with this is that I totally understand and felt this way when I first came to mindset work, that being told that you are capable when you kind of maybe harbor some disbelief in that, which I totally did, I 100% did. I came to mindset work, feeling incapable of everything and like the world happened to me and I was simply a victim of my life and that I had it harder than other people and nobody understood me and like, like I had a lot of mental and emotional drama about taking responsibility for my own thoughts and my feelings and my actions and my results. So on the one hand, I absolutely do understand that sometimes when I say things like, you're just not paying attention, I totally hear how that could sound to you, which is why I've gone well above and beyond with my explanation to tell you that I'm not saying that in a you are doing it wrong way. I'm saying, there is a method wherein you can pay attention and I'm gonna tell you and then you can do anything, like, you can do anything. It's so amazing to me. So what to do when you overeat before I tell you all of, not all of the steps, cuz there really aren't that many. But before I tell you the steps, I do wanna cover a little bit of like foundational knowledge. One of them I've already talked about. It's a concept that I am going to from here on in the foreseeable future refer to as the wheel. It's actually a concept that we've been talking about since literally forever. I've finally given it a name so that I can refer to it to you very quickly. The Wheel is simply the circular like logic of; it's how our brains work where we have a thought. It creates a feeling in our body, that feeling in our body drives our actions and then those actions produce a result that is essentially a restatement of the original thought. This is the way your brain works. Your brain is always both creating and looking for evidence of how what it already thinks is true and that is the mechanism by which that happens. This happens all the time for everything in your life. And I have finally given it the name The Wheel for two reasons. Number one is because there's absolutely no reason to reinvent it every time because it simply exists. It's the way your brain works and and because it's not my invention, calling it The Wheel makes it very clear that this has been around forever. It will be around forever. It's not mine, it's just, it's kind of a shorthand way of saying your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings drive your actions and your actions get you results. So from here on out and I will in the presumably very near future actually have an entire episode called The Wheel that I will be able to refer you to. I'm picturing this as being a very short episode where I can just explain the concept very quickly so that it's very easy to refer to. Anyways, we're gonna be talking about that today. Uh, we're also gonna be talking about the curious observer, which I have in the past very frequently and in fact have an entire episode called the Compassionate Observer. I'm in the process of kind of renaming that and rethinking about that concept about how having compassion for yourself and compassionately observing your thoughts, your feelings, your actions, kind of tinges it with the idea that you're coming to your journaling or your your mindset work with the idea that you need to fix something or that you wanna, I guess kind of feel bad for yourself or that you want to solve a problem or want to feel better and you'll be far better served thinking about the process of observing yourself through the lens of curiosity and simply being open as opposed to trying to fix something, trying to solve a problem or trying to feel better. So I'm in the process of renaming the compassionate observer, the Curious Observer, and you will find lots of episodes wherein I refer to it as the curious and compassionate observer, but at sometime in the future it will be a complete switch over to the Curious Observer. Anyways, understanding that concept of essentially it's metacognition, it means that you can think about your thoughts, you can observe yourself in a detached way. And then another concept that we're gonna talk about today that, I honestly don't think I've ever covered because I have felt like this is something that we all understand and I know you do, but also I really feel like it bears a pulling apart. It bears some examination and it's the difference between your conscious thoughts and your subconscious thoughts. And I know that you know that conscious means you can hear it and subconscious means you can't. That's literally the definition. But also when I talk about how your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings drive your actions, your actions produce results. I think because this is how I heard it when I first came to this concept, I think a lot of us really feel like it's only our conscious thoughts that are doing that. It's only the thoughts we can hear that are producing results in our lives. And I want you to know that that's not true at all. Like at all. Like most of our results are being produced because of subconscious thoughts, which again comes back to my blanket statement of the reason things happen is cuz you're not paying attention; that you're not paying attention because you can't, things are happening underneath the surface in your brain where your brain's like, oh dude, I've totally got this. Don't worry, I've got this thought that covers this situation. I'm gonna create a feeling, I'm gonna drive some actions. We're good here. You don't need to think about this. That's what frequently is happening. In fact, you know what, I'm gonna say always, I'm gonna throw out an always in that sentence and I'm gonna tell you, but that is always what's going on. When we find ourselves as though transported by magic, doing something that we didn't intend to do, the intention is conscious. The actual thing that happens, the behavior that we notice is coming from subconscious thoughts. So really the crux of what I'm saying here is that what I'm offering you as a process for what to do when you overeat or undereat or under drink or under sleep or overexercise or find yourself doing anything that is not what you intended to do. This process is gonna help you find your subconscious thoughts and it's actually easier than you think. So step one is that we're going to find the thought and we're going to find the thought by coming to our journal with our curious observational skills. Now, the only way to develop this skill, in my opinion, is to, and I say this with love, do it wrong. All of us come to our journaling and come to our mindset work and come to our lives frankly with this layer of judgment like, “Oh, I have this terrible thought”, or “Oh, I have this really awful feeling”, or, “Oh, I have this habit and I wish I wouldn't do this.”. We are all judging ourselves all the time, and the only way to learn how to not judge yourself is to practice it and truly practice it in very small doses because you won't be able to practice it in large doses until you've practiced it in small doses. The same way that we practice anything, learn to play the piano. You don't just sit down and I don't, I don't even know how to finish that sentence, play a concerto, something, I don't play the piano. I should really stop giving that as an example, but I always do. Anyways, what you're going to do is in order to find the thought, you're gonna sit down either with your journal or just in your own brain. You're gonna use your imagination to go into the exact moment right before you did the thing that you didn't intend to do. Now, here's why. When you can recreate this moment in your mind, your brain is so good at imagination that it kind of, I'm gonna say, it doesn't know the difference it does. Your curious observer understands that there are two parts of your brain. One of them is reality, one of them is imagination. But while you are imagining things your brain is functioning as though often is really going on in real life, meaning that while you are imagining you have access to the thoughts, the feelings, and the actions in a way that you didn't when it was happening in real life. So you're gonna go into your imagination to the exact moment where you decided subconsciously from a subconscious thought to overeat or undereat or undersleep or whatever it's, and you're gonna ask yourself, what was I thinking? Now that might be a little bit too broad. You can also ask yourself something a little bit more specific about what was I thinking right before I put that in my mouth? What was I thinking right before I did that thing? You might, depending on which one comes more easily to you, generally speaking for me, thoughts are easier to find for you, feelings might be easier to find. You might go into that moment and ask yourself, what was I feeling right before I did that thing? Now I'm gonna tell you that the reason that the thing happened is because you felt uncomfortable in some manner. So here's the example that I'm gonna offer to you. This is something that happens to me, used to happen to me with some frequency on occasions like birthday parties or family get togethers or like Thanksgiving, like American Thanksgiving, like where the focus is really on food and being together and having fun and there's just that general vibe of everybody's eating, we're all here to eat together. This is an eating occasion, which is again why I told you why I called this episode “What To Do When You Overeat”. This is a lifelong, I have so many examples from so many places in my life where I intended to eat an amount that was going to feel comfortable and meet my targets and did not. So you might notice a feeling of maybe something like urgency or obligation or this is the one that always gets me being left out. If you don't eat, whether or not you notice the thought or the feeling first, you will likely notice something along the lines of either a thought like that looks good or I want that or that smells good or, oh, I bet that's so delicious. Any one of those like hunger or desire producing thoughts is going to create a sense of desire or urgency in you. The other one that I hear very frequently, especially when I go to somebody else's house and they're serving like lots of food, is I don't wanna be rude. Speaking of a life of examples of how I subjugate myself for other people's feelings, I, that is a whole other podcast, but the, I don't wanna be rude, so therefore I'm going to make myself uncomfortable by eating too much is a lifelong pattern. I don't wanna be rude is a thought I can find, oh God, everywhere in so many places in my life, but really specifically on holidays and family get togethers. Another one that I find very frequently, and I was actually really surprised by this one, is everybody else is having that the desire to not be left out or left behind or not belong or being other or unlikable or all of that genre of feeling, that is a very, very strong feeling in me. So when you find either thought or the feeling, and they might be, they might be similar to these, these are the examples that were very easy to find in my own brain. Yours might have some slightly different or more specific nature to it based on your life experiences. What I'm gonna offer you is that there is a thought that creates a feeling like hands down no matter what, this is where we come back to The Wheel. This is always what's going on. Anytime you notice a behavior, it's because you had a feeling and the reason you had that feeling was because you had a thought every single time and that thought and feeling are always findable when you go into your imagination very gently, very kindly, compassionately if you will, or curiously if you prefer. I prefer curious when you can come to your own situation without judgment knowing that what you are looking for is a subconscious thought, a thought that wasn't available to you consciously in the moment. It means, I like to think about this like, like there's a stray cat hiding in a bush who is really like leery of humans but is also simultaneously very hungry and would like some human contact. You just, you put the tuna down and you sit there and you're really nice and you put out your hand like, wouldn't you like some screechy scratches and you blink a lot because that's how cats tell each other that they're, they mean no harm and then you just wait for the cat to crawl out slowly. This is what I'm offering you about finding the thought and the feeling. You might, you might notice yourself being very impatient. Why can't I hear it? I don't know what's going on. This is ridiculous. I don't know what happened here. There's no way I can find this and just remind yourself that of course you can. Of course you can recognize the feeling and hear the thought as long as you remain open to it. Now, having said that, let me tell you, this process might not work for you the first time and that's completely okay. That's why I offered it to you as a stray cat and learning how to play the piano. They don't seem related, but I swear they are. This is going to take some practice and it might take more patience than you might want to come to your journaling with. Both of those things are completely okay. This situation, whatever it was, the the occasion upon which you overate or over drank or over exercised or under slept or under eight or whatever it was, that situation is available to you in your brain for as long as you can remember it whenever you want to, you can revisit that moment to hear the thought and recognize the feeling. There's no urgency to do this right now except for the urgency that you create in your own mind by thinking a thought like, I have to figure this out now; you don't. You can figure it out whenever you figure it out. Now, coming up next, after we have found the thought, recognize the feeling, however long that takes. The next thing that you're gonna do is, and I say this with love, you're going to judge it , but you're gonna judge it in a way that is actually really specific and not judgmental at all. You're going to decide if it's helpful. This is what we talk about so frequently with the two step tool, which is, I know this one, episode 89 Mind Management where I talk about how you're gonna find your thoughts and decide if they're helpful. I really wanna clarify here something that I used to in lots of old episodes of the podcast describe as a purely intellectual process where you could simply observe your thought and your feeling and decide intellectually whether or not it was helpful. What I'm gonna offer you today, I want to be very, very clear with the way you know the parameters through which you decide whether or not your thought is helpful is because of how the thought feels. The feeling that the thought creates is your answer. You don't just think about your thought more because there are lots of thoughts that either sound helpful or sound unhelpful, that may or may not be helpful or unhelpful. The only way to know the true litmus test of whether or not a thought is helpful is how it feels. Now, I already told you earlier in this episode that the reason you were driven to do something that you didn't intend to do is because the feeling was uncomfortable. So spoiler alert, whatever thought you find, I can almost guarantee that it's unhelpful, but I still want you to practice this because it's such an important, well, it's an important brain-body connection and it's just a really important skill to really put yourself through the paces every single time. Again, coming back to the whole practicing piano thing, one of the reasons I hated practicing piano, the what? Three months that I took piano lessons when I was like 14 years old. I hated the fact that I had to keep practicing the same thing over and over. I found that so incredibly tedious and boring and quit. I mean I, I don't play the piano. I do however, do mindset work and I do it every single day and I go through this process every single day even though there's a part of my brain that knows just instantly, oh, that's definitely an unhelpful thought. Yeah, you can see that, but also allowing your body to do its job and offer you information builds a beautiful bridge of trust with your body in addition to your brain. Now, yes, I want you to build a bridge of trust to your brain, but building that trust, that bridge of trust with your body is so crucial on your weight loss journey and your just your menopause journey, your self-love journey, loving your body and trusting your body is, as far as I'm concerned, it's the pinnacle of success and the only way to get there is by practicing it a little bit at a time by asking yourself on purpose to feel the feeling inside your body that a thought creates and to trust the information that it's giving you. Let's say you hear a thought like that looks good. Now, off the top of your head when you're looking at whatever food you like best, I'm in my mind, I'm looking at cookies. That looks good, that looks delicious. I bet that would taste good. My brain is offering me this thought, and it sounds very trustworthy. It sounds like eating that cookie would be pleasurable. It sounds on its surface like that might even be a helpful thought because everything about it is associated with like that pleasure. But when I allow my body to feel the feeling of that urgency, that desire that isn't just pleasurable, the urgent desire that feels craving, like that feels insatiable, that feels a little out of control. When I allow that to exist in my body, which is the feeling that thought creates for me, oh, I can feel how uncomfortable that is. I can feel that that thought is unhelpful because of the feeling, the emotion that it creates in my body. When you allow this process to unfold a couple of things, number one, you're gonna have to be more patient than you think. Just , hands down across the board, this is going to take more patience, more focus than it sounds like. Just listening to the podcast, when you sit down with this, your thoughts are gonna go a mile a minute. Your feelings are gonna go a mile a minute. You're gonna be really tempted to make shortcuts and be like, I can tell already that that's an unhelpful thought or You're gonna be really like, you're gonna wanna get away from these uncomfortable feelings and I will tell you that wanting to get away from the uncomfortable feeling is the mechanism by which you do things you don't intend to do. That's why this whole thing is subconscious. It's because you're trying to avoid the uncomfortable feeling that you find yourself doing the thing like overeating when you have patience, curiosity, compassion, and an understanding, like just an intellectual understanding of how your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings drive your actions. All of it's okay. Some of it's subconscious. This is all just a process. You can manage your eating, you can manage your sleeping, you can manage your drinking, you can manage your exercise. You can lovingly create for yourself any A-N-Y result you want. This is how we do it. We find our thoughts, we decide if they're helpful. We build bridges of trust with our brain, with our body. We look curiously and compassionately at our lives. We judge ourselves, but only in the nicest way, and only like without that actual layer of judgment, but the the lovely layer of being able to see for ourselves when something is helpful or unhelpful. We allow our brain to do the work. We allow our body to do the work. Anything you want, my friend is available to you. You can go to Thanksgiving and not overeat. You can be in the middle of a really good book and still go to bed. You can enjoy exercising and not do too much of it. You can do anything. I really hope this one was helpful for you. Thank you so much for being here. I'll talk to you again soon.

Listen to the full episode here, and be sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Originally aired March 12, 2023
Eating “off-target” (overeating *or* undereating!) is something we all experience on our weight loss journey. In this episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast, I’ve got the goods on how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
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Meet Your Host

Mindset expert and certified life coach Pahla B knows a thing or two about changing your mind to change your weight and your life. She’s the creator of The 5-0 Method, Amazon-best selling author of the book “Mind Over Menopause,” and former yo-yo dieter who has cracked the code on lifelong weight maintenance. Join Pahla B each week for the personal insights, transformative mindset shifts, and science-backed body advice that can help you lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.