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Episode 85: Cruise Control Eating


Is your primal brain calling the shots? This episode of Weight Loss for Food-Lovers is all about taking back the power when you’ve slipped into cruise control eating. Molly defines what it means to take your hands off the steering wheel and let something other than yourself determine the speed and pace of your food voices. It’s easy and effortless to grab something to eat unconsciously, but do we really want to let our lower brain dictate our journey?

It’s easy to slip into cruise control eating and it can happen for all kinds of reasons: A change or disruption (like pandemic), a vacation splurge (you’ll likely regret later) or a period of crisis or stress. Whatever is going on around you, however, you always have a choice. Molly offers tips for getting back in control, including:

  • Step onto the scale. It’s only a metric. If it triggers shame or bad feelings, use the opportunity to examine and better understand your thoughts.

  • Write down everything you eat. Look honestly at what you were thinking and/or feeling when you made the choices you did. There is valuable information to be mined, information you can use the next time your primitive brain tries to climb into the driver’s seat.

  • Plan ahead: Write down exactly what you’re going to eat on vacation or at special events.

  • Eat without distractions. When you eliminate noise (phone, TV, work) there is room for your higher brain to take charge.

Molly reminds us that we experience 60,000 individual thoughts on any given day. If we don’t bring intentionality to our choices – food, alcohol or anything else – then we are giving away our agency. There is a real sense of power in taking back control, so make a plan and jump back into the driver’s seat!

If you’d like to learn more about how to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to your food choices, check out Molly’s 12-week course here. Or set up a free discovery call to discuss with her what coaching can do for you here.

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Topics Covered

  • Exactly what is “cruise control eating”? Molly defines it.

  • Cruise control eating happens for all kinds of reasons, including:

    • Seasons of change or disruption (such as Covid19)

    • On vacations with no plan-ahead food management

    • Periods of crisis or stress

  • There’s a mindless quality to cruise control eating; just grabbing for something without bringing awareness.

  • When do ingrained habits rear their ugly heads? When our primitive brain takes the wheel!

  • Your primal brain will always do what feels good in the moment. It’s not thinking about what you’ll feel like afterwards or the cycle in which you’re caught.

  • Old thoughts and habits are much easier on the brain than eating intentionally and making deliberate decisions.

  • With 60,000 thoughts going through your head on a daily basis, it’s easy to make poor choices unless you bring intentionality.

  • Loose thoughts: They’re easily displaced in the moment. You need a plan!

  • How to combat cruise control eating:

    • Step on the scale – remembering that it’s just a metric. (You can also use it as an opportunity to consider some of your old thinking and triggers around weighing in.)

    • Write down exactly what you ate at the end of the day. Reflect on how you felt in the moment, what you were thinking when you reached for the food.

    • Write down what you’re going to eat before vacation or a special event.

    • Eat without distractions. Turn the TV off. Put your phone away and really pay attention. Check in with your body. Are you satisfied.

  • Making a plan, stepping into consciousness – these are things that will leave you feeling empowered and hopeful.

  • Don’t be afraid to examine your cruise control eating behaviors. You’ll find valuable clues and information that will help you understand old habits and thought patterns that are deeply embedded.

Key Quotes

  • “Even when you’re in a mindless place with food and in a phase of cruise control eating, you still have the ability to watch yourself and notice what’s happening.”

  • “You are not making a deliberate or intentional decision about what you want to eat. You are letting your primitive brain make spontaneous decisions.”

  • “When you’re on cruise control … You’re making choices with that primal part of your brain that just wants pleasure.”

  • “Just because you’re cruise control eating it doesn’t mean you’re broken or that there’s anything wrong with you.”

  • “You have to realize what’s at stake when you let your primal brain be in charge.”

  • “Cruise control eating can often lead to a sense of failure and hopelessness, which makes it very difficult to reach your goal weight and stay on track.”

  • “Every time we get on the scale, it reveals the truth of our actions.”

  • “If you can figure out what’s motivating you to overeat or eat mindlessly, you can figure out how to solve it.”

  • “Use (cruise control eating) as a learning opportunity so that the experience isn’t wasted. There can be valuable information to help you identify the patterns that are happening.”

Links & Resources

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