Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Stu: This week, I’m excited to welcome Dr Melissa McCreery to the podcast. Dr. McCreery is a psychologist, emotional eating expert, author and host of the Too Much on Her Plate podcast. She’s helped thousands of women break cycles with overwhelm, overload and overeating without feeling deprived and without depending on ridiculous amounts of willpower. In this conversation, we discuss the triggers, foods, and strategies to finally make peace with food and create freedom from emotional eating.
Some questions asked during this episode:
What makes us overeat when we know that we shouldn’t?
Which foods/drinks are the most difficult to limit (ie. domino foods)
Where would we start if we want to address overeating?
Get more of Dr Melissa McCreery:
Free 5-day Freedom from Overeating workshop https://toomuchonherplate.com/register
The Hidden Hungers Quiz: https://toomuchonherplate.com/quiz
If you enjoyed this, then we think you’ll enjoy this interview
The views expressed on this podcast are the personal views of the host and guest speakers and not the views of Bega Cheese Limited or 180 Nutrition Pty Ltd. In addition, the views expressed should not be taken or relied upon as medical advice. Listeners should speak to their doctor to obtain medical advice.
Disclaimer: The transcript below has not been proofread and some words may be mis-transcribed.
Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of The Health Sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long-lasting health. Now, I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have. I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right, we are into whole food nutrition and have a range of super foods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more, just jump over to our website, that is 180nutrition.com.au and take a look.
Okay, back to the show. This week I’m excited to welcome Dr. Melissa McCreery to the podcast. Dr. McCreery is a psychologist, emotional eating expert, author and host of the Too Much on Her Plate podcast. She’s helped thousands of women break cycles with overwhelm, overload and overeating without feeling deprived and without depending on ridiculous amounts of willpower. In this conversation, we discuss the triggers, foods, and strategies to finally make peace with food and create freedom from emotional eating. Over to Dr. McCreery.
Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Dr. Melissa McCreery to the podcast. Dr. McCreery, how are you?
Dr McCreery (01:28):
I’m great. Thank you for having me. I’m excited about this conversation.
I am too. Certainly it’s going to shed a lot of light on many questions that I know that our audience has, especially in the day, well today, where we’re in an environment that we have heavily marketed foods, lots of signals coming out of social media that tell us how we should look, how we should feel, which can derail us and has and is derailing us every second of the day. But first up, for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, I’d love it if you could just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.
Absolutely. I am a psychologist, clinical psychologist, have been working with primarily women around food and eating and weight and overeating and emotional eating, and probably every single way that you can combine those things for over 25 years from my entire career. Have been online working globally, primarily around I help women break habits and actually lose habits with overeating and emotional eating. And I think that’s the key piece. You talked about all the messages people get. We live in this world where eating is being framed as something that you control or you stay on top of. And I work with women who don’t need one more thing to control. They don’t need one more thing to worry about or manage. And what I really help women do is put those struggles behind them so that they can put their time and their valuable energy into the things that matter so much more to them.
Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, lots and lots of questions then. I think I’m going to lead in then with probably a question that everybody asks. So what makes us overeat when we know that we shouldn’t? And quite simply, I guess in its very simplistic form, when we look at the laws of thermogenics, calories in, calories out, we consume calories, we burn calories, should be that simple, but there are so many different variables in there, so many different variables.
So many, so many.
Why do we ever eat? We know we shouldn’t be doing it and we know that some foods are Domino Foods and we can’t stop eating. But I guess then we tap into the psychology of things. And as we mentioned, we’ve got lots of signals. But from your perspective, why do we do it?
Well, first of all, I think that’s a great place to start this conversation, because the typical client that I work with is somebody who knows how to solve problems, knows how to seek out information, knows how to be strategic, and yet there is this gap between where they are and what they know and what they’re telling themselves they should do. And that’s in air quotes, and what they are able to do or what they are implementing or the results that they are getting. And especially for people who are great at solving problems, this is the most frustrating thing in the world. And then when you layer in that message of it’s simple, just have more self-control, just eat less, just move more.
It is so deflating to confidence and to hope. I think that diet mentality really teaches us that, well, if it’s not working, it’s your fault and you just need to go in there and try harder, which creates this hamster wheel. And coincidentally, I think also leads to more emotional eating and overeating because out of frustration and perfectionism and all that kind of stuff. So if we are going to talk about overeating and emotional eating, we really have to talk about the underlying reasons that food has the power that it does in our lives. And I think that’s true particularly for women. What I talk about with my clients is a concept that I have created called Hidden Hungers, which is there’s some very common reasons that women overeat.
And they have nothing to do with laziness and a lack of willpower or not caring enough. And they actually don’t have to do with a lack of information about food and nutrition. Because what I hear from so many people is I could write a book, it would have conflicting chapters, but I could write a book with all the information I have collected, right, as you mentioned about how and when and where and not to and how to combine it, and yet it’s not working. We can talk about that because there’s a whole dynamic there that has to do with psychology and why food has the power that it does in our lives.
Do you think, or how much do you think the type of food then governs this problem? Because I know that there are a lot of very, very smart people out there that are working very hard to manufacture foods that are so insanely hyper palatable, that are engineered for that bliss point in our brain to want us to eat more. And we have so many foods, all these chips and dips and things that some of the slogans even say, when you pop, you can’t stop. And it’s true, I just want more. And they oftentimes hijack some of the signals in our body with hormones that tell us that we’re feeling full versus these pleasure centers that tell us that we need more. Is food or the type of food a large part of the problem, or is that just a smaller part and perhaps psychologically there’s something else going on?
Well, I think it varies from person to person. I think absolutely what you said is going on, but I also think our brain is, we are programmed when we have a problem to jump into action and especially if you are a problem solver. And so if you are somebody who is frustrated with how you’re eating or you’re frustrated with your weight, it seems entirely logical to jump into, okay, how am I going to eat? What’s the food plan going to be? What am I going to eliminate? What am I going to throw out of my cupboard? And the problem is, on the one hand, at a level that makes sense, because it is part of the equation. But if we skip the piece about why am I feeling out of control? Why am I finding myself in the kitchen at three o’clock when I’m not hungry, staring at the cupboard?
Why can’t I stop pinching on ice cream at night? What is going on in inside of me? Because that’s our first source of power. And we live in an age where people are so busy and so overwhelmed and so stressed, and the things we’re doing are so overlapping, especially people who are still working virtually, right? You’re clicking from one Zoom meeting to another Zoom meeting, your life literally overlaps. And so there isn’t a place for a lot of people to check in with themselves and even notice, am I hungry or what am I feeling? Am I stressed? Am I bored? Am I needing comfort? Am I feeling like I just need the world to stop for a minute and I’m using food to push something away? And what is going on inside my body? Is this the best kind of food for me to put in my system right now?
So the first step is really slowing down and getting in touch with what is going on inside of us in the immediate things we can control around ourselves and our environment. Did I say that in a way that makes sense?
You absolutely did. So tell us then a little bit about the process then that you might adopt when wanting to address overeating. How does it work? Because I’d imagine there’d be quite a wide gamut of people as well that perhaps experience very similar core issues that you’d need to address, but in very different ways.
Absolutely. And because of that, so the first kind of tenet of what I teach my clients or members of my program, is that there is always a reason that we eat. And it very well may be something that, a chemical or a physical reaction, it can be hunger and it also can be a host of other things that we have been marketed to and taught our entire lives to use food for. And so first of all, letting go of all the garbage around self blame and being hard on yourself and guilting yourself, because you can argue with me all you want about, not you, but I’m talking to listeners. Listeners can argue all you want about whether it is true, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not helpful. Because once you decide that you are the fault of this, that you are the problem, you lose your ability to be curious about how you might fix it or change things.
There’s always a reason you overeat. I’ve actually created a free quiz, it’s called the Hidden Hungers quiz that people are welcome to take if this is speaking to them. But you can take that quiz and you can get some clarity around what is the primary reason behind my overeating? And by the way, people when they start to learn about hidden hungers usually get overwhelmed and they think I have all of them. And you might have all of them, but there’s always one that is primary and that is a good place to start. Because hidden hungers really start explaining things like comfort eating, mindless eating, stress eating, eating to push things down or to avoid things. There’s all different sorts of reasons that we turn to food or that we use food. It’s a coping strategy.
And so starting to get clear on what your particular hidden hunger is and then getting some really doable strategies that you can implement to start to take care of those things. Because, which by the way you get when you get your quiz results. But if you think about things like exhaustion, which leads to hidden hungers, stress, which leads to hidden hungers, tough emotions, overwhelm, and being too busy, not having enough time for yourself, all of that that works together can create a ball of even more overwhelm, triggers overeating, and it can feel pretty impenetrable. So what you really need are to start in one place with some very simple steps that can start to take apart that whole circuit and start to help you feel your power and confidence back.
Because if you’re feeling completely beaten down, if you’re feeling like you need food to cope, and again, I’m talking to you highly successful person who is not used to feeling this way, it can feel really hard to believe that you’re ever going to get anywhere. And it can certainly feel hard to start looking at cleaning up your eating or eliminating food groups or all these other things that you may have in your head that you think you want to do.
Got it. Got it. So hidden hungers are particular triggers that would trigger you for some reason, yet to be discovered, into emotional eating or eating outside of a pattern that would be considered normal and healthy.
Hidden hungers are the things that we are really hungry for, that are not food, that we’re using food to take the place of. And it’s interesting because sometimes people will say to me things like, okay, I know I’m a stress eater, but how is that helpful? I know I have stress. I know I’m a stress eater. I can’t do anything about my stress. Or I have learned that I’m an emotional eater and it’s not changing. And there’s a lot of messaging out there about identify a certain kind of eating and just knock it off, which is not helpful. But the other thing, and this is the other reason that I think hidden hungers are so important, is that sometimes those labels aren’t really useful. So you can be a stress eater, and that can be very true. You have a lot of stress and you’re eating to cope with stress.
But it may be that your primary hidden hunger is a hunger for rest, because you’re actually exhausted because of the stress and the overwhelm. And in many cases, if you’re missing what that primary leader is of your overeating, you can try to reduce your stress all day long. And I see this a lot, and I’m sure you do too, people with a chronic exhaustion or sleep deprivation. You can do all the good stuff in the world, but if you don’t find a way to address your hunger for rest, it is going to be like rolling a boulder uphill the entire time.
Absolutely. Especially when you spoke about exhaustion and sleep. And it’s interesting because we’ve been doing what we are doing for almost 15 years and speaking to lots and lots of professionals like yourself, and so really have an understanding of what’s happening emotionally, psychologically, but physiologically as well. And this weekend particularly, I had a very busy Saturday in terms of out on the water doing loads of sport, lots on my mind, and I had a shortened sleep window, and I woke up and for the entire day I was hungry, I was craving carbohydrates.
You were starving, right?
Because I know that my glucose was dysregulated, and that in my mind I thought, I know that. And so I made conscious steps just to go for fat and protein dominant meals and starchy carbohydrates that weren’t going to act like fuel on the fire, putting paper on the fire that just disappear very quickly and have me searching for more. But for those people that don’t understand that the body does react to a lack of sleep, oftentimes through hunger throughout the day for the wrong types of food, very easy to be railroaded, sidetracked, and not understand.
And very easily to play head games with yourself. I’ve talked to so many women who are like, well, I know I’m just trying to perk myself up, so I should somehow try to control it. No, your biology is different. When you are not getting enough sleep, you literally are hungrier, you literally have different cravings. Sorry, this is just a soapbox of mine. But they’ve also done long-term studies with women where even if you control for calories, people who are chronically sleep-deprived weigh more than people who are not. It is so powerful. It’s interesting, I think it is so easy for women to minimize their own needs, plow ahead with all these priorities, and then feel like they should still be getting these amazing results even though they don’t feel permission to take care of themselves.
Totally. And do you find that, does motherhood play a role in that as well? Because you’re speaking about successful women, so they’re clearly dominant in the workplace. They understand what they need to do, but then perhaps they need to come home and they need to tend to the family as well and oftentimes tend to the family before themselves. So they are the last person to receive personal attention, perhaps at that point they’re just too exhausted.
Yes. The most common overeating, and actually this is a place where a lot of women when they hear this, my group program is called Your Missing Piece. And so in your missing piece, a lot of women will hear somebody else talk about that, and you can just see the look on their face on Zoom when they’re like, oh my God, I thought it was just me. The most common overeating is overeating at night. And it is because the usual scenario that people describe, and I have heard, I don’t know how many thousands of times, is it’s the end of the day, I know I’m tired, so there’s a hidden hunger. I know I’m tired, I should just go to bed. I know I need sleep, but this is the only moment I have had for myself all day long. The house is quiet, I just want a reward. I just want some comfort or I just want to zone out, depending on what kind of hidden hunger profile you have.
And I know I should sleep, but I am not going to give this up and I don’t have the energy to do anything else. What I want is my comfy chair and a bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips, and I want to be left alone. Because self-care comes last. Right?
Absolutely. I would imagine. And you mentioned the ice cream and the chips as well, thinking about foods and drinks that are most difficult to limit perhaps that we shouldn’t even have in the house, that are always those comfort foods that you reach for when you are in that situation, how do you address that? Do you get people that have emotional eating problems and reach for carrot sticks and hummus?
I wouldn’t have thought.
No. And I think just about every woman everywhere has heard this advice that you should just go binge on carrot sticks.
And they all have rolled their eyes. Right? I think that part of the problem, food is complicated. Well, actually, food can be simple. Our relationship with food is complicated. And what we also, I think is important to talk about, is that so many women have this history of being bullied by diet talk or being told what to do or being shamed for not being successful. And it is really both fascinating and horrifying and sad. I guess that’s not both, that’s all. To see really powerful people who’ve just have had their confidence taken away in terms of their ability to have the relationship with food that they want. And so in terms of decisions about what to eat, I really think that it’s very important to shift from this deprivation diet mentality thinking, to what I call freedom mentality, but really where you get to be the boss of you and you’re the CEO of this whole game, and you get to make the calls.
Instead of that whole, I know I shouldn’t eat this, and I know I shouldn’t eat that, and I can’t have that, which frankly just leads to binges and cheat dynamics, where you’re cheating and starting over and all that kind of stuff. We really start from a different place, which is taking your own psychological power back. There’s something so powerful, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to convey this. There’s something so powerful about making choices from a place of power instead of a choices that just you feel like you are supposed to make. Right? There’s a woman in the program recently who she made a choice to clean out some foods in her house. She didn’t want them anymore because she overeats them. But her choice came from, it wasn’t the first thing she did in the program, because then she would’ve felt deprived and bad, and she would’ve wondered how long she could keep this stuff out of the house.
It came from a place of, I’m moving forward, I’m doing stuff that feels good for me. It doesn’t feel like taking something valuable away from me anymore to not have ice cream in the house, and I’m not telling myself I never get to have ice cream again, but I would like to experiment for the next little while to see what opens up for me if I leave this out of my life. And just hearing her talk about it, because she had talked about it the first week she came in the program, just hearing the difference, just incredible. And when you can get to that place where you feel like you’re running the show and you’re making the rules and you’re listening to yourself and you’re saying, oh, no, those really are Domino Foods for me, or I really don’t feel good, I don’t want to eat that crap because I don’t feel good in the morning. Instead of I’m not allowed to eat that stuff. That’s how you start to build really permanent change.
I think from almost being in a calorie prison and being beholden to these foods, that make you feel, will give you that very short term high, but you know how you’re going to feel perhaps the next day or thereafter, to be empowered. And I wonder if it’s that sense of empowerment that is really driving then the success and creating these healthy habits moving forward, because a sense of empowerment can be so rewarding, perhaps more rewarding than eating a food in and of itself.
Oh, yeah. And empowerment also gives you permission. You have permission when you feel empowered to say things like, okay, I tried this and this didn’t work so well for me, so I’m going to make an adjustment. Instead of diet thinking, which is, I tried this, it didn’t work for me, so now I have to start over on Monday and do it again and be harder on myself.
That’s right. And perhaps feeling like a failure because it hasn’t worked.
You’ve tried something, it hasn’t worked and it doesn’t work. And then next week you try something else, it doesn’t work.
And you get madder and madder at yourself.
And you get so angry and frustrated that you think, you know what? I’m just going to snack on something that makes me feel better. And then it’s a vicious cycle. It’s fascinating.
I had a conversation with a client last week, and we were talking about that cycle. Well, we were talking about that time of eating that happens when you are on some kind of diet, that in the window between when you have, quote unquote, blown it and now it’s all ruined, and then when you decide it’s time to start over again. And we were talking about that and she was talking about that pattern in her life, and all of a sudden she just said, you know what? That is all my extra weight. That is every piece of my extra weight. It isn’t the thing I ate. It isn’t like I ate all those brownies that night. It’s the eating I did after I ate the brownies. And four days later when I just finally had it in me to start over again because I was through being mad at myself.
She said, that’s the problem. If I could just get rid of that right there, I would be gold. That’s the cycle I help my clients break, because it not only does that not keep you stuck, but it feels awful.
I could only imagine. How does alcohol play into this as well? Because oftentimes for the busy person, alcohol is often an easy option to allow us to relax and just shrug our shoulders, sink into the chair, put Netflix on, then grab whatever food might accompany an alcoholic drink, which typically is a comfort food as well.
Exactly. No, I think for a lot of people pouring that glass of wine or having that cocktail has become the way you signal to yourself, I have permission to be done now. Right? And then it becomes this whole habit. And then for some people it is paired with food. And for some people you just feel more relaxed and you don’t care as much and you make different kinds of decisions. And so again, it is important to start looking at, okay, what is your source of power? And not in terms of how can you have more self-control so you don’t eat or drink at night? But how can we give you your power to be done in a different way or to have the kind of limits in your life or to take care of yourself in the evening before you’re so exhausted that ice cream feels like the only thing you have the energy for?
I think that’s another place where our culture gets us confused. Power is not being strong and hard on yourself. Power is creating a life where food doesn’t have the power, because those hidden hungers, you’re getting fed much better, higher quality things. And so it is a pleasure to keep going. It isn’t deprivation. You’re actually, you’re not missing this stuff. And that’s what I love, is when people in the program say, you know what? I didn’t even realize it. I just looked back at my calendar and I haven’t binged in four months. And they didn’t realize it because they weren’t working really hard to do it. Right? That’s just wonderful.
Absolutely right. Oftentimes I think as well, and when you make the right choices or smarter choices with foods that perhaps have the nutrients that your body is actually craving, then you feel full or fuller sooner. You feel fuller for longer. You don’t need to snack, you don’t crave because your body is satisfied, but in a different way. So you’ve written a book, The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan for Smart, Busy Women, and you have a program as well. So I’m keen to understand more about how they work together, what we could expect from either one of those as well.
That’s such a lovely question. The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan book, which preceded the program. It’s a great introduction to what I do, probably, well, not probably, it has less of the mindset piece because that takes more time. And one of the things about changing the way you think about things that I think one of the things that’s important for everybody to know before you get frustrated with yourself, is that it’s difficult to do it in a vacuum. It is difficult for me to identify the thoughts and the mindsets that I have that aren’t serving me. Because in my head they make perfect sense. In my head, it just feels like, well, that’s the way things are and the way people think. So The Emotional Eating Rescue Plan book is a 28-day plan to get clearer on the reasons that you’re overeating and to start to replace those in different ways and to take your power back from food.
My Missing Peace program is a six-month program, because I feel really strongly that women don’t need more short term fixes. Women do not need more of that cycle of being good for a while and starting over. That’s a program where we really go deep and there is a lot of coaching. It’s all online. Starting to take your power back and then figure out food from your inside out. What works for me? What gives me energy? What does not work for me? What do I feel good eating? What are the plans that I’ve been setting myself up with for the last 10 years that were never going to work because I hate chicken breasts or whatever it is? So that program is, that’s a much deeper, more intensive program. The book is a good way to start. And then have a podcast, which is also a good way for people to start playing with these ideas and learning what it looks like.
So many tools, fantastic tools these days as well that you can take at your own pace. And I love the fact that when you’re curious, you can just settle into a podcast. And that’s something that I do of an evening. It’s one of the things that I just like to wind down, listen to a conversation about whatever I’m interested in at that time. And that switches off the gears, the monkey mind of all of the craziness that’s happened during that day. I’m intrigued then. So six month program, and typically we’re always looking for the magic pill, the quick fix, and that’s why the internet is a wash with 14-day challenges, 28 day programs for everything under the sun.
How long do you think that it actually takes during that program? What’s that part of that timeline that the shift really does start to occur within and those healthy habits start to materialize or perhaps people start to think about things in a different way? Because I know that, mentioned before that we’re busy, we just want this fixed quickly, but oftentimes it can’t be fixed quickly.
That is such a great question. And I think, first of all it varies from person to person. One of the interesting things about our psychology and our brain is that we see what we are focusing on and we focus on what we are looking for. And so that is one of the interesting things about doing a program that includes a mindset shift, is that when you come into the program, you are going to be looking over here for these things to start happening, and they start happening over here. And if people aren’t watching me I’m pointing in two different directions. And that is mind-boggling for people. So that is interesting. For people who are thinking about how long it will take them to make changes in any kind of program, I think there are a couple things to think about. One is it is really different to get some new skills and some new strategies and get excited because they’re working for you.
That is very different from making those things into habits, and not just making those things into habits, but making those things into the kind of habits that happen automatically. I don’t have to come up with a training plan to remember to brush my teeth. It’s just a part of what I do. And you want your relationship with food to not be something you have to agonize and stress over from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. So A, whatever you’re doing, you need to bank enough time to not just learn the stuff, but ingrain the stuff. And the other thing I always tell people to think about is that we are all really good at showing up on a good day and doing our best job. And if you join a program, especially my clients, who are high achievers, they’re very good at getting As and doing all the things and checking boxes.
And when we sign up for our program, we tend to do that. But if you think about when your eating is the worst, or your emotional eating tends to go off the rails, it is not in those bright, shiny moments. You want to be in a program with somebody that you trust, that is the second really important point, long enough so that you hit whatever those hurdles are that you always hit, whether it is the holidays or it is work stress, or it is self-doubt and self-sabotage. But the place where you are really going to take the benefit from a program that addresses your overeating is when you get to that place where you think, this isn’t working, I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this anymore, or whatever happens that usually derails you. When you can go through that in a different way, that is when you are really making lasting changes with your relationship with food.
Fantastic. And is there perhaps a part of the day that people all always struggle with? Maybe it’s that evening section or perhaps it’s the morning when they don’t get the food right and because they haven’t got the food right in the morning, then there’s a cascade during the day of hunger and cravings, things like that. And on that question, if for instance, problem areas are typically during the evening when you want to rest and reset and just watch Netflix. Are there strategies that you implement instead of that, that maybe mindfulness, meditation, things that may help us think differently?
You just described the cycle. I think for most people, and it’s either the end of the workday or it’s late afternoon, or sometimes it’s before bed, but I think something to think about. And people are always like, okay, so what should I do instead? What will I do instead of having the Netflix and the whatever it is? Often I think we need to start with some compassion that one of the reasons you are in this habit of the Netflix and whatever it is that you’re eating is because probably your brain is saying, I should do something else, but you don’t have the energy to do it. And so it’s really important to, if you can reverse engineer this thing a little bit, and like you just described start to think about, so when did it start to go off the rails? I had a good breakfast. Oh, that’s right. I’ve been having meetings all week and I’ve been too busy and I haven’t been eating lunch.
And then I get home and I’m ravenous. So maybe I need to firm up my lunch. Or what I hear from a lot of women is they have this lovely morning routine. It works for them. They love their breakfast, they pack a healthy lunch. They feel really good about that. But oh, guess what? They haven’t gotten up from their desk or they haven’t stopped looking at their computer screen for the last eight hours. There was no break in there. And so they show up at the end of the day, they don’t know if they’re hungry. They don’t know what they’re thinking, they don’t know what they’re feeling. Their shoulders are up around their ears, and then everybody’s screaming, what’s for dinner? Is a recipe for any of us to overeat.
Yeah, that’s right.
So really thinking about if I have this trouble time, what is that time two hours before look like? Is there something I could do there that would make it less inevitable that I would show up the way I am showing up later in the day?
Excellent. And disaster management. I’ve been at this for two months, going really well. And then you know what? Cascade of things that we’ve spoken about before, whether it be crazy work, stress, family issues, whatever they may be, have thrown me back into my old ways because I guess we’ve probably got this default record playing in our mind of just have a drink, put on Netflix, grab some chips and just relax and everything will be fine. Do you have a mechanism for disaster recovery or is it not perhaps even looking at it as a disaster?
Well, if we can get to a place where we’re not looking at it as a disaster, that’s great, because again, it’s really that gap between when you decide it’s a disaster and when you get back on the horse or whatever it is you tell yourself in that bad inspirational voice inside your head that you’re telling yourself you have to do. It’s just a thing. You just did a thing. And what I always tell my clients is that it really is, your power is in the next step, your power is in the step you’re taking right now. It is as simple as looking down at your feet and deciding, okay, which one am I going to pick up and where am I going to place it next? So sometimes what’s really helpful is to have a reset plan that is so simple, you know can do it anywhere and you can do it in the next 10 minutes.
So it doesn’t mean I go and I clean up my refrigerator, but it could be I go and get a glass of water and I take a vitamin and I forgive myself. Or I go sit on the deck and I take 10 deep breaths. What is the thing that is going to be your signal that, okay, moving on. Right? Moving on. Because that’s all you got to do is just keep moving forward.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. We have an analogy here that burger and fries eaten once, that’s not going to be an issue for your weight, but in the same vein, a caesar salad isn’t going to be the answer. A single caesar salad isn’t going to be the answer to fat loss. It’s what you do long term. It’s those repetitive healthy habits that will hopefully get ingrained as healthy habits that really make the difference. Are there any factors that commonly disrupt the progress? Anything that perhaps that you find as a collective that a lot of your clients perhaps fall by the wayside by doing? It might be alcohol, it might be timing.
I think it’s the things we call self-sabotage, that are really, it’s interesting, there are some huge self-sabotaging things that we do that we have often been taught are success strategies. Like all or nothing thinking that it’s really perfectionism in disguise. So, okay, I’m going to go to the gym. Well, if I’m going to go to the gym, I really need to go five days a week. And if I’m going to be there to make it worthwhile, it really needs to be an hour to be there. And pretty soon you’ve created a plan that is not sustainable and you don’t even get out the door for your 10-minute walk, which would’ve added up.
So perfectionism, coming up with plans, which I am a master at, I can do it, come up with these elaborate plans that sound really good in my head, but do not fit my life. And then because I can’t do them, like I just described, I don’t do the simpler thing, which could have accumulated, being really hard on yourself. And because what happens, and I mentioned in the beginning, when we fall into self blame, it closes the door to being able to be curious about, okay, what’s not working here? If all I’m doing is getting mad at myself because I’m binging every night and watching Netflix, I have already decided the problem is me. And I’m not open to thinking, okay, so how could we rework this so I’m not feeling this way at the end of the day? What could I do differently? I can’t be playful with that.
And that’s one of the reasons I think that coaching is so helpful because we can’t see our own mindset. And if you could download, if any of us could download the soundtrack that we have in our head and the way we talk to ourselves all day long, especially around food and eating. It is often we would never say these things to someone else, but we just live with that diatribe going on, telling ourselves that’s just how life is and it’s perfectly normal. We don’t hear it. And tending to that, learning how to treat yourself differently and have some different thoughts, I cannot overestimate how powerful that is.
That’s right. The power of the mind is absolutely profound when you start to unpack what’s actually happening and perhaps when you start to assess how many of those negative thoughts actually have any meaning in as much as whatever fear-based ending you have on a particular train of thought, never happens. So how much energy do we put into these things that just never eventuate?
Or just aren’t helpful.
I’m a marathon runner and that’s the example I often use. Marathon 26.2 miles, you can think, and you do think a lot of things at mile 25, but you have to sort through what is helpful for me to focus on. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, it doesn’t matter if your legs feel like they want to fall off and you want to sit on the curb and you want to cry, it doesn’t matter if your goal is to finish, then it behooves us to, so what would be useful to focus my mind on? And so that is also a practice, because changing your relationship with food is a marathon because we eat every day for the rest of our lives. And so really learning how to be the curator of what is going on between your ears is one of the most empowering things that you can do.
Yes. And I bet as a marathon runner, you didn’t train to run a marathon by running a marathon. You probably started at some stage by walking around the block.
Yeah. And you know what? I did not think, okay, I can walk around the block, so this is going to get me where I want to go.
But what I did was I actually worked with somebody who had a program and I thought, okay, this has worked for other people and I can do step one. I also didn’t think about what I was going to have to do at week 20. I thought, okay, I can do step one. And it looks like, well next week I think I could do that. We grow.
Slow and steady wins the race. I think that’s another phrase that we use here as well.
Don’t you hate that? We all want thin thighs in 30 days.
I know. Absolutely. No, that’s fantastic. Well, we’re slowly coming up on time, but I’m keen to understand then a little bit about your self personally in terms of perhaps the habits that you implement, that perhaps you have worked on to implement that allow you to really crush your day and stay in the peak physical and mental and emotional fitness, that are perhaps non-negotiable. And I’m thinking along the terms of maybe you like to get up at a set time, see the sunrise, maybe think about yourself, have a hot drink, go for a walk, all of these things that you do by default every day that have just taken you to the point where you are now.
That’s such a good question. I don’t do them every day, but these are the habits that I have learned, when I don’t do them, my day goes differently. Right? I am a morning person, which I know people who are not morning person people hate to hear. But I am a morning person and I love my mornings, because I love starting my day on my own terms, which starts with my coffee. You will never pry my morning coffee mug from my hands. But that’s really the time when I look at my schedule, what’s ahead of me for the day. I do some planning. And I also do some journaling and think about how am I thinking about this? I literally ask myself, is this the way I want to be thinking about my day or is there another thought I would like to practice today?
I think there are two other non-negotiables. One is getting outside as much as I can for often a run or a walk. And that really is not about, clearly it is fitness, but I live in a beautiful place and being outside by myself, usually with no sound or podcast or music, that’s my meditation. I get to be in nature. I get to breathe fresh air, I am unplugged. And that just sets me up. My family members will suggest that I go for a run if I skip that step. And then the third thing that I have learned that is really non-negotiable for me is making sure I stop and I eat a decent lunch. It’s very easy to get busy. It is very easy to not have time. It is very easy to grab a bar or something because I get excited about my things that I’m doing. But I could map it out, if I don’t stop for lunch, the rest of my day is just different.
Derailed. Derailed. And what about the evening? What does your evening routine look like?
I have a hard stop. When my last call is over, but usually at the end of the day before dinner I am done. Work is over. And weekends too. Weekends are my weekends. And I think that’s really important because what I noticed, especially during the pandemic, when everything was all blurred together for so many of us, if I didn’t know what it was I was supposed to be doing at what time, if I could just do anything at all the times, it really started to feel stressful. So knowing this is my off time means I don’t have to come up with some other thing that gives me permission to be done.
That’s excellent. It is. I love that word, hard stop as well. I’m a child of the 70s where, well, I was born in the UK. And in the UK the shops closed for lunch. So the shops were closed between 12 and two for lunch. And after midday on a Saturday the shops were closed and Sunday every shop was closed. And now everyone is on 24/7. There is no hard stop ever. And of course the internet now, well that’s just shopping 24/7. So it’s very different times. Interesting. There’s not a lot of room to just daydream and gaze and be present anymore, which is a shame.
But also so important because if you’re not thinking about what you need and what you want, do you know what, is food is so seductive for filling up those gaps. Right? Or for quieting down the things that we need and we want that we tell ourselves we don’t have time to deal with.
Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. Fantastic. Boy, we’ve certainly uncovered lots of topics here that I know that our listeners would like to dig in deeper, just in terms of understanding more about you and your work, listening to some podcasts and things like that. How can our listeners get more from you? So where can they go, what’s the best place to send them? Wanting to-
Well, it’s pretty simple because it’s the same name just about everywhere. My website is toomuchonherplate.com. Toomuchonherplate.com. And that’s where you can find the free Hidden Hungers quiz, which I highly recommend. My podcast is Too Much on Her Plate with Dr. Melissa McCreery. And that is wherever you like to listen to your podcast and get that. And stop by the website, I’m going to be doing a free five part workshop series live in a couple of weeks. It’s repeated just a few times throughout the year, but if this is appealing to people, that is, it’s five days of actionable training and steps around how to create your own freedom from overeating formula, one that fits you and works for you. And people have found that really helpful. So that’s available on the website too.
Right. Fantastic. Well we will put all of the links that you’ve spoken about today in the show notes. But Dr. McCreery, I have had a fantastic time. I love the conversation, learned so much as well, which is wonderful. I’m sure our listeners will too. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you. This has been a lot of fun.
Brilliant. Thank you. Bye-bye.