popping candy

Work's been hectic. A bunch of your colleagues got laid off and your team has had to do more work to bear the brunt. You have calls at all hours, worse than usual. With remote work being the norm, the meetings and schedules have gotten worse. Your day is no longer your day. Nor does it have anything to do with daylight but according to when the day is at New York or the Bay Area.

Everything about your schedule is out of your control, or so you've been led to believe.

You have no time or energy to think about food and so food is whatever is there on the table, or whatever is easy to order and devour. You walk out of a meeting at 6 pm, already at the end of an 8-hour day but you still have 3 more meetings. Thanks to the recent festival/birthday/wedding, there's a boatload of tempting snacks and you pop in a few and go back to your desk.

clothes feeling snug

You feel more drained. Your work suffers. But you feel you have no choice but to work even longer and harder. Food becomes a fun get-away. You order your favourite foods coz you tell yourself you deserve them. You are putting up with so much shit at work that you deserve a break.

But it stops feeling as good as it used to, of course.

Photo by Matthew Henry / Unsplash

And is it your imagination, or are your clothes feeling a bit snugger than they used to?

Cut out all the ....

What the fuck?!?! All the hard work and discipline over the past few months have been destroyed because of this crazy phase. At home or at work, things have been so hectic that you did not have any energy and look what happens when you relax a bit. You've put on so much weight and the self-criticism becomes self-flagellation and unhealthy.

You decide to exercise extreme control. From zero control, you are on a DIET. Either you are cutting out most of your calories, or whatever the current enemy is - carbs or fats or whatever. And the pendulum swings all the way across.

Is food the core problem?

Imbalance is fine. We find balance over a time period filled with imbalances, constantly tinkering and titrating what we are up to. A bit of fun over the weekend, and a bit of work over the week - some kind of balance. A bit of fun in the evening after a long workday - balance. Whatever the time frame, we are used to this.

But this extreme lack of control over food to extreme control over food does not work. Why? From my experience, it is because we are not getting to the root of the problem. Is the problem about food? Most often not. The problem is about your day, your work, your frustration somewhere else that you are not willing to see or take ownership of. You have ceded control but maybe you should not have. Working 12-hour days or you'll lose your job? Is that so? Is that a job you want to be enslaved to? Are you truly okay to let that be out of your control? And because you are not, but at the same time unwilling to fix whatever that larger issue is, whatever the elephant in the room is, you are trying to control other smaller things. Which unfortunately can never fix the root cause. And so, everything goes unresolved.


Penguins and an inquisitive seal pup face off on a beach in South Georgia.
Photo by Rod Long / Unsplash
  1. Plan your weekly menu after a sumptuous, relaxed meal.
  2. Control your environment. Get rid of junk in your house and toss them in the bin.
  3. If you are at an extreme - stupidly eating everything in sight or severely restricted eating - recognise the red flag for what it is.

And know that the real issue is not your food. But something else in your life where you have relinquished control. But need to take control back.

Get back your workday. Get back your time with your friends or family. Get back to your routine. Get back your "me time". Fight for it. Sit down and confront what you are running away from.

And once you do, great!

Your out of control eating is a symptom of something else. Identify it. Confront it. Deal with it.