THE BLOG

The Unexpected Place You're Probably Overeating

04/09/2015 02:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015
Blend Images - John Lund via Getty Images

There's a type of overeating that most people do without realizing. Focus on this one thing, and the payoff can be huge.

Overeating, emotional eating, and stress (that makes everything worse) crop up in the spaces between things.

In the car on the way to the next thing.
At the office when one meeting is over and it's time to dive into a project.
After dinner and before bed.
Looking at your to-do list and not feeling clear about where to start.
When you come home from work.
When you finish something big.

Transitions are a place of disruption between one pattern or flow (like being at work) and another (arriving home and stepping into a new role).

If you don't manage transitions, you put yourself at a disadvantage.

While productivity experts know clearly the importance of paying attention to transitions, busy high-performers can be terrible about this. In fact, it's a trouble spot that's usually ignored and it's a major cause of getting caught in vicious cycles with overwhelm, overload, and overeating.

Transitions, are a place where many smart, busy women grab something to eat -- mindlessly out of habit, as a way of procrastinating "the next thing," getting an energy boost, or even rewarding yourself while simultaneously forging ahead. When you're in transition you are not "in the flow" or in a groove and that discomfort can be another cue to reach for something to eat.

But wait, there's more. Busy people are not very good at paying attention to transitions - and by this I mean pausing long enough to check in with yourself and do what you need to do to switch gears successfully for the next activity. There's a tendency to rush on to the next thing without even pausing to catch your breath -- or worse, overlap activities so there is no transition at all.

That's what happens when you're always running behind or multitasking, or using the nonexistent "time in between things" to text or check your email or make a quick phone call.

It may feel necessary or productive in the moment, but not creating pauses and transitions in your day is a recipe for disaster.

So what's a busy woman to do?

Here's an easy recipe for handling transitions without overeating.

For best results, resist the urge to over complicate this.

  • Start noticing the transition points in your day and in your life. Chances are pretty good that these are also some of your most challenging points of the day.

  • Once you've identified your transition points, create small ways to pause and center or check in with yourself before you move on to the next thing. The easiest way to start is to create teeny tiny rituals or habits that you do when you are transitioning. By small I mean small.

  • Things like:

  • - Get up and stretch

  • - Go fill your water glass

  • - Take 10 deep breaths

  • - Walk around the office or your house

  • - Change your clothes or wash your face (when you get home from work)

  • - Brew a cup of tea

  • - Take a 10 minute break
  • A client started a lovely new ritual of lighting a candle when she gets home as a way to mark her transition.

    Another client transitions into meals by stopping and blessing her food.

  • As you pay more attention to your transitions, tune in to the hidden hungers you're using the food to feed (this free quiz can help) . You may amaze yourself with what you discover.
  • Pause, center, and move forward. It's that simple

    There's one more thing. If your life is so over-booked that it feels like you barely have transitions, you're probably guilty of major overlapping. Try giving yourself the grace of padding your schedule with five extra minutes between things (we're starting small here).

    Clients who have been stuck in this pattern often have to overcome the discomfort of "having extra time" or the temptation to use it to squeeze in one more thing. When they do, they usually notice pretty quickly how much better it feels to have that transition time - and how they feel more in control with eating, and with their life.

    Visit TooMuchonHerPlate.com, where Melissa McCreery shares tips and resources for moving beyond the 3 Os - overwhelm, overload, and overeating - so that you can create a life you love. To get her most up-to-date tips and strategies for making changes that last, subscribe to free newsletter and sign up to take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz.