You've likely heard this story from your clients before: they have the house to themselves on a Friday night and decide to treat themselves to a bowl of chips, which turns into two bowls, then three. Before they know it - the entire bag is empty and they are left clutching their stomach in regret.
Overeating is something many people struggle with. In fact, it may be the reason your client is seeking your help in the first place. We’ve rounded up a few tips that you can coach your clients through and help them start taking control of the amount of food they’re putting in their bodies:
#1. Help them recognize their trigger(s)
For your client, this is the most important step in taking control of their overeating. When they take time to reflect on what triggers them to overeat, they can start to create strategies to react appropriately when those foods are around.
Help them reflect on the five W's so they can understand why they overeat.
Who are they with when they overeat?
- Are there certain people who trigger them to overeat?
- Are there certain people who they tend to overeat with?
- Ask them to complete this sentence: “I overeat with... “
What do they tend to overeat?
- Are there certain foods that seem to trigger them to overeat?
- Salt, sugar, fat?
- Ask them to complete this sentence: “I tend to overeat when I am consuming…”
When do they tend to overeat?
- At what time of the day are they most likely to overeat?
- Are there certain situations where they tend to overeat?
- Ask them to complete this sentence: “I am most likely to overeat when.....”
Where do they tend to overeat?
- Do they overeat at home?
- Do they overeat when they are dining out?
- Ask them to complete this sentence: “I am most likely to overeat at....”
Why do they tend to overeat?
- Is there something that causes their overeating like fatigue, emotions or stress?
- Ask them to complete this sentence: “I overeat because…”
The answers to those questions are their triggers. Now the real question is: what can they do to cope with them? How can you help them break their cycle of overeating?
For example, if they know that stress causes them to overeat, then what are some strategies they can implement to better deal with stress. Perhaps recommending your client meditative movements like yoga or a long walk? Or if they tend to always overeat at night before bed, how can you help them change up their bedtime routine to avoid this happening?
#2. Encourage your client to not get over hungry.
Coach your client to learn that getting over-hungry sets them up to binge. If they want to avoid overeating, then they need to allow themselves to recognize their hunger levels and react accordingly. When your client gets over-hungry, their blood sugar drops and they start feeling stressed, anxious and irritable. They are also more likely to eat anything that passes in front of them, whether they are hungry or not.
Remind your client to be proactive and have a snack or meal before that insane, intense hunger sets in. Program these snacks into their meal plans so that they know how to feel prepared, should hunger arise. They are much more likely to make healthier decisions at this point before it is too late.
Meal planning is the BEST way to set your client up for success. Learn more on how we are helping with that here.
#3. Coach your clients not to restrict their intake
This goes hand-in-hand with reminding your client not to let themselves get over hungry. Many people think that the best way to lose weight is to restrict their intake. But this is so not true.
Educate your clients to know that starving and depriving themselves is not sustainable and can really mess up their hormones. Not to mention, restricting sends their body into a frenzy of hunger, which usually leads to binge eating. So instead of making themselves miserable in hunger, encourage them to just eat healthy! After all, that’s likely one of the reasons they started working with you.
#4. Encourage your client to “Treat yo'self!”
We are firm believers in treating yourself every now and then. And clients love to know that they have flexibility in treating themselves. So tell them to go ahead and have that slice of pizza or ice cream cone. It’ll help them as they introduce healthy habits into their lives and make the transition more enjoyable and sustainable. Encourage them to indulge in moderation, but also be mindful of the slippery slope.
#5. Remind your clients to prioritize sleep
It has been proven that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. Our clients end up eating when they should be sleeping and being tired causes them to crave junk food. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times: Sleep is so important! We know our clients are busy and sometimes it feels like there is never enough hours in the day but sacrificing sleep can have a huge impact on your client’s overall health. So encourage your clients to start making sleep a priority from day one.
#6. Don’t forget to remind your clients to drink lots of water
As humans, we often have difficulties distinguishing the difference between our hunger and thirst. Dehydration causes us to think we need to eat when really we need to drink. The best way for your clients to fight this is to not let themselves get dehydrated! Send your clients reminders or share these helpful tips to ensure they get plenty of fluids on a daily basis:
- Encourage them to infuse their water with things like lemon, cucumber and mint
- Have them keep a 1L water bottle on the go and have them try to drink at least two per day
- Program into your client’s protocol to start every day with a large glass of water so that they are fuelled up in case they get busy later on
#7. Get your clients to break a sweat
High-intensity exercise may actually decrease food cravings, according to this study by the International Journal of Obesity. Not to mention, it's a great way to reduce stress, improve mood and increase sleep quality - all common triggers of overeating.
#8. Remind your clients to give themselves time to be mindful
Sometimes we eat so fast our bodies don't have time to tell our brains that we are full! Encourage your clients to eat slowly and mindfully so their bodies have a chance to recognize when they’re full. Have them sit down at a table, take in their meal and be mindful of the different colors, flavors, and feelings when they eat. This will give their body time to register when they’re full and finished eating.
#9. Encourage your clients to avoid sugar
This one is a toughie. Trust us, we know. We get that your clients love foods that have sugar. Unfortunately, eating sugar only makes you want to eat more sugar, which is obviously a recipe for your clients to overeat. There is no easy way for them to end their sugar addiction, but with your encouragement and reminders that they can get there, they will find that they overeat less and feel much more in control.
#10. Get help
Sometimes your clients need bigger help than what you can provide. That’s where a solid referral network comes into play. There is a big difference between overeating, treating yourself and binge eating. For many, the struggle with binge eating and food addiction is very real. Binge eating is a disorder where you eat unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop. It is a mental health issue rather than an addiction to a certain kind of food. If this sounds like your client, do not be afraid to refer them to practitioners specializing in eating disorders. Check out the Binge Eating Disorder Association for more info.
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