Ep #112: Habit Eating and Breaking the Habit

Do you find yourself always overeating at night or on the weekends? Maybe it is when you get home from work or after you pick your kids up. This is what I like to call habit eating. In this episode I am going to help you start to change the habit for good.

I wanted to do this episode because I get so many questions around eating at night or weekends or certain times of the day.

We have developed so many habits, you know the ones I mean – every day at 2 p.m. you are looking for the candy bar, or at nighttime when watching TV you are reaching for the popcorn.

I will dive deep in this episode how these habits are caused by triggers and how to recognize those triggers in order to understand them, and what to do when a trigger happens.

Join me in this episode as I teach about how to change your habits by coming into awareness of these triggers.

I will give you tips on how to break these old habits and create new ones.

Are you ready for some new habits?

If you find what you learn here valuable, you can help other women find this show by leaving a review and rating of the show. Also subscribe – you can do that by hitting the follow button, clicking on the + sign in Apple or hitting the subscribe button wherever you are listening. This way, every Wednesday I am in your library.

In today’s episode, you will discover:

  • What a trigger is and how it has created our habits
  • How to add more joy in your life that is not around food
  • How to create new habits

Transformational Questions/Actions:

So what to do.

  1. Become aware of what your triggers are and how they have become habits.
  2. When a trigger happens – SDB.
  3. Disrupt the habit and decide what habit you want to create instead.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Weight Loss for Successful Women podcast with Shannan Christiansen episode number 112. Welcome to Weight Loss for Successful Women, a podcast for women who are ready to break the diet cycle and end their struggle with weight for good. Here’s your host, fortune 100 executive, and certified life coach, Shannan Christiansen.

Hello love. So happy to be back with you. Do you find yourself always overeating at night or on the weekends? Maybe it’s when you get home from work or after you pick your kids up. This is what I like to call habit eating. In today’s show, I’m going to help you start to change the habit for good. But first, I want to do a listener shout out, and today’s listeners shout out comes from Gabby Joan.

I found this podcast and Shannan in January, and absolutely love her outlook on weight loss. I have struggled with my weight for 10 years now, and I was honestly ready to just give up on trying to lose it. I love listening to her stories and advice, it has helped me so much. I’ve lost 20 pounds now just from changing my mindset and still going. I always look forward to her new content on Wednesdays as it helps me keep going and push through those tough days. Thank you Shannan for helping me and all the other ladies.

Ooh, thank you Gabby Joan. I love this review. I love all the reviews. And you know, my loves, if you just take a moment and leave a review, I would so appreciate it. You know, this really does help other women find the show. And honestly, I love hearing from you. I really do. I love knowing that you love the show and how it’s impacting you. So you can leave a review, rate it, and also subscribe. You can do that by hitting the follow button or clicking the plus sign in Apple. That way every Wednesday I’m in your library.

So do I sound a little, my voice is a little scratchy? Maybe. I tell you my loves, my life has been a little full lately for sure, but good. You know, life is 50 50 I believe. And so all good things and you know, some not so good things too, my loves. But I have to tell you, we just, this weekend, we went up to the cabin with my grandkids and, you know, Taylor and Telyn, and we really did have the best time. And I have to say, my dad was coming too, this is why I say life is always 50 50.

So my dad was, you know, coming too, we were all going up to the cabin and on his way up, his truck broke down. I know I couldn’t even believe it. He couldn’t even believe it actually. And so any who, long story short, he wanted to, the tow truck came, my brother came and got him. I went down and actually met him because he had stuff for the weekend. And, you know, he decided he wanted to go back home to take care of the truck and you know, all of that, all of that stuff. And so he didn’t get to come. And so that was, that was the 50 50 that wasn’t good. Cause we really wanted to spend this time with my dad.

And, but you know my loves, life happens. We did, the grandbabies, all the grandbabies and you know, my son and daughter-in-law and Paul and we really did have a really amazing time. You know, it was beautiful up there. You know, we had a fire. We went to this really cool place in Arizona called the Tonto Natural Bridge, and it’s just beautiful. And you know, so we went on a little bit of a hike. When you have five grandbabies, it’s a little bit of a hike.

And so we did that and just kind of hung out and played some games and, you know, ate some food and just really spent really good quality time together. And, you know, I have to say, it’s one of the things I wanted. I’m doing a whole 50 birthday celebration, you know, I don’t know a couple of weeks I guess. And you know, it’s one of the things I wanted. I really just wanted some time away with my family.


You know, I know my loves most of you, if not all of you, family is so important. And you know, I just, I love that time with them, and with my grandbabies spending time with them. And I actually got like special, like one-on-one time with each one of them throughout the weekend. And it was just, it was the best. So I hope and wish all of you as we’re in this season of holidays and busy-ness, and all the things that you get some time to slow down and spend with your family and friends, you know, and get some time to have some fun and some joy.

So let’s get into today’s show. I wanted to do this show today because I get so many questions around eating at night or weekends or certain times of the day. And I tell you loves, this comes up a lot, like Shannan, I do so good through the week, and then on the weekends, I eat all the things. And you know, I, I want to take you back to, you know, before I had lost my weight. I used to have this habit and this habit was really, you know, this every day at 2:00 PM, I would go and get a snack. So we had this pantry and it had all the things, you know, candy and chips and, you know, there was a refrigerator and there were yogurts and I don’t know, cheese sticks, all kinds of things.

And so I would have what I like to call a trigger, right? A trigger is just an event. And I would have this trigger where you know, something at work would be stressful because sometimes work can be, right? Or events happen or pressure, right, that you put on yourself. And so I would feel a lot of stress. And so I had this trigger of I’m at work, I feel a little bit of stress. And then I would go to “the snack cabinet.” And what happened is over time, it became a habit. And so, you know, at first it was just, you know, I would feel stressed, I would go get a snack, and then it started to become this 2:00 PM habit.

And so pretty much every day at 2:00 PM, I had created this habit of getting, you know, a Snickers bar or Sun Chips, and a mozzarella cheese stick. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not. It didn’t matter if I had just eaten a full, big lunch and was full, if 2:00 PM came around because that’s the habit that I had created, I was gonna eat it. And you know, we do this a lot, all of us do this. We have these events or these triggers. And then over time they just become a habit.

So I want to talk about triggers, because I think triggers are like warning lights. They tell you that something is happening and, you know, that a feeling mostly is happening too. And this is really where you can start to come into awareness, so you can decide what you want to do instead of your automatic brain being in charge. So understanding your own triggers and, you know, what events or situations or times of the day, what are the areas in which you overeat or eat more than what you want and how have these triggers become habits? So coming into this awareness, understanding where you’re at right now is the very first step.

So I like to think of triggers in four different ways. And the first trigger are event triggers. And these really are times of the day or, you know, days of the week. So, I like to think of this as like weekends or nights, right? These are event triggers. So, you know, every night I’m feeling lonely or bored, and so I have a bowl of ice cream. And so every night, you know, this just becomes, the trigger is nights. I had some feelings. I’m, you know, I tell myself I deserve it. I’ve worked so hard today, you know, right. These are all thoughts. And then basically I eat the bowl of ice cream.

And then that turns into this habit of every night I’m eating a bowl of ice cream. Again, and this is the important fact. Eating a bowl of ice cream at night. You ladies know I’m like, go for it, right? Put it on your realistic plan. The problem comes when you aren’t hungry. When you’re not physically hungry, when you’re just eating to, you know, satisfy a feeling that you don’t want to feel, or, you know, an emotional need that you have, or, you know, it’s just become a habit. It’s just something you do because this is what I’ve been doing. And so you’ve created this neural path in your brain.

The second are relationship triggers. Loves, we have the humans. The humans are in our lives. We have all of these different relationships. And there are times where we have thoughts about these relationships and they create feelings. And these feelings could be frustration, stress, anger. You know, of course we have all the good ones too, but again, in this context, it’s where we’re buffering because we don’t want to feel the feelings.

So, you know, we come home from work and, you know, we’ve asked, you know, our, you know, son or daughter to, you know, have the dishes done and all the things. We get home, the house is a mess. They haven’t, their homework’s not done. You just worked all day, and you’re like, holy moly. And the next thing that, you know, you’re in the pantry, you know, eating chips. And you’re like, how did this happen? And again, the trigger was, you know, I come home from work, there’s a, you know, again, a transition home. And then you, you know, eat because you don’t want to feel the feelings.

And so relationship triggers, right? We have all of these relationships, and we have amazing positive feelings, but life is 50 50. And so are relationships. And so we have amazing, wonderful things, but we also have stress and frustration and, you know, pain and all the other emotions too. And so, so many times, especially with the negative ones, we want to push them down.

We don’t want to feel those feelings. And so relationships are another trigger to overeat. And then what happens is, you know, let’s just say every day, again, you come home, you see the certain human and, you know, you get frustrated. That then becomes a habit. Then every day when you come home, you’re like, okay, I need this kind of decompression. I need this thing. And it’s triggered by another, you know, seeing a human, having an interaction with it, another, you know, person in your family. And so really understanding, you know, what are your relationship triggers?

It could be, you know, every time I see my mother-in-law, you know, after I have that interaction, I go home and I eat all the things, right. Again, ladies, we have this, right. We have these relationships and depending on who they are, they also could be a trigger to overeat.

Now the third trigger are emotional. And I would say all of these are tied into emotional triggers. Meaning we feel a feeling that we don’t want to feel. So we feel boredom or sadness or loneliness or stress, and because we don’t want to feel those feelings, we want the dopamine hit of, you know, sugar or flour or chips or pizza or whatever it is, we want that kind of increases our dopamine. We push that feeling down and we do it with food.

And, you know, I know so many of you ladies who are listening, right? You’re like, oh, I’m an emotional eater. And I eat with, you know, good emotions and sad emotions. And again, this is just a trigger, and just starting to be aware that, okay, every time I’m bored I’m grabbing the bag of chips. Every time I’m feeling lonely, you know, I’m in the bowl of ice cream. Just understanding what are your triggers and times when you’re, you know, wanting to overeat.

Now the fourth trigger, I like to think of them as food or environment triggers. And what I mean by that is something in your environment or some food triggers you. So, for example, every time I drive past the Krispy Kreme, this was a trigger for me. Like this was like one of those things, especially when Krispy Kreme was first around. And, you know, I just like, if I passed a Krispy Kreme, I had to stop and get a donut. And so this became, again, a trigger, just seeing the sign, seeing the hot in the window. If you know Krispy Kreme, they have like a sign in the window that says hot, or they turn it off when they’re not. And so if I saw this hot, I was like, oh, I’ve got to go get the donut. And so again, it just became this kind of environmental trigger.

Or every time you, you know, pass by a fast food restaurant or, you know, maybe you go on this certain route every day, and so you, you know, have to stop at Starbucks and get, you know, your coffee and your muffin. And again, it just becomes a habit. You have a trigger, right? So your brain is like, Ooh, that tastes good. I like that dopamine hit from the Starbucks and the muffin. Right. And then, because you pass by it every day, it just becomes a habit.

Now there are also food triggers. I always talk about, you know, Texas sheet cake. And, you know, if I had a Texas sheet cake in front of me, I just could not, one, I felt like I couldn’t pass it up. And two, I would always overeat it. And so, you know, you can have certain foods that trigger you, that, you know, you feel out of control. Now, I want to say this to you because this is very important. My love, that’s just a thought. I would have a thought that I was out of control, but you are never out of control.

You always are making the decisions. You are always deciding what you want to do. Even when it feels like you’re out of control. I just want you to really practice this thought. Even if you’re overeating and you’re, you know, in a binge, I’m in control, I’m deciding right now what I’m doing, because that’s taking back your power and your control. And it’s really important in this work. And so really understanding what your food triggers and your environment triggers are, again, all of this is just coming into awareness, understanding what triggers you to overeat.

Now, remember my love, you are in control. You are in control. You always are. You’re always making the decision. I know sometimes because we live in automatic brain, that it feels like we’re out of control. But it’s just, you know, our programming, right? So I want to go back to my 2:00 PM, you know, Snickers habit. Really what it became. You know, I would feel stress, right? I would feel this stress and I would then, you know, go and get my Snickers. The Snickers, it was like, you know, I could eat it in less than a minute. I would eat it, and it didn’t make me feel better. It didn’t do anything. But it had become a habit.

My brain, I had created a neural pathway that every time I feel this stress and I also tied it to a time, right, the 2:00 PM, it was an event trigger. So every day at 2:00 PM, I would go and grab the Snickers. And just understanding what your triggers are, understanding that this is just your brain, nothing has gone wrong, that you’ve just created a neural pathway and that it’s just become a habit.

And so understanding where this is happening to you in your life. So for example, every Friday night, I overeat. Every weekend I blow the week when I’m feeling stress. You know, every time I pass a Krispy Kreme I have to stop. Or if I get into an argument, you know, I’ve got to reach out for the chocolate. Understanding your different triggers and then how they’ve become habits. See my love, these are just habits. We have tied these triggers to eating, and then we’ve created neural pathways and we’ve created a habit.

So I want to give you some, you know, Shannan, what do I do, right? How do I, like, what do I do? So I have these habits. I have weekends or nights, or the humans or emotional, right. Or these kinds of food or environment triggers. So the first thing that you want to do is become aware of what your triggers are and how they have become habits. So the first part always is just awareness. Because anytime that you can come into awareness, you go into your thinking brain. And how you do that is just ask yourself a question. When do I think I, you know, eat more than I want to, or I eat when I’m not really hungry? Do I have any of these habits? So that’s the first.

The second is you want to disrupt it. You want to disrupt the habit. And then the third, you want to decide what habit you want to create instead. So to disrupt my 2:00 PM Snickers habit, sometimes it was chips too, what I would do is I kind of knew that this had become a habit. And even if I was not hungry I was still eating. And so what I would do is around 2:00 PM, instead of going to the cabinet, I would get up and just take a three to five minute walk, or I would go and talk to a peer or, you know, someone out on our floor. It was just something so I could disrupt the thought.

See my love, we have these thoughts, and then we feel this urge to act. Anytime that we can disrupt it by asking ourselves a question or getting up and walking, right, we’re changing our shift, we’re changing our focus. So that’s what I did. I just, I knew that I was in awareness, that this was a habit, and I would just stop and I would get up, and I would just, right. I wanted to create kind of a new 2:00 PM habit. And it really was just getting up, walking around saying hello, doing, you know, going and talking to, you know, one of my people or one of my peers. It was just something to disrupt that habit.

And I say this because it’s just, the awareness is the most important part. It’s really just understanding your habits and then deciding what you want to put in place of it. You know, just that, you know, I don’t know, three to five minute walk, you know, talking to a peer, it really disrupted the thought so I could move through it. And if you’re struggling on weekends or night eating, I always ask myself, and I ask this of my clients too, what joy or fun can you add into your weekends or into your nights?

I did a whole podcast on weekends because my love, you know, we work all week or, you know, we have school or kids, you know, all of these, you know, routines. And then on the weekends, we have this thought that we believe that, you know, this is my downtime. This is when I get to relax. And we’ve tied that to food. That food is relaxation. And so deciding that, you know, okay, relaxation, this is how I’m going to relax. I’m going to have joy. I’m going to have fun instead of tying that to food. And so we’ll put the episode number in the show notes, but it’s a really great one on weekends.

And if every night you’re having a bowl of ice cream, or you have some habit at night, again, what else can you do? Maybe it’s as simple as what I like to call SDB, which is stop, disrupt, and breathe. And this is a technique that I teach all of my clients, and it’s a really important way to allow an urge. And so, what you do is you just, as soon as you come into awareness that you’re either eating more than you want, or, you know, you’re getting ready to make that bowl of ice cream, you stop, kind of take a breath, and then you disrupt. You count back from 30.

And then, I know that sounds crazy, right. But I tell you, this technique is so, it is really life-changing. You stop, you disrupt by counting back from 30; 30, 29, 28, 27, and then you just take a breath, and breathe in. And I tell you my love, just by stopping, disrupting, and breathing, your brain goes to a new thought, and then you’ll be like, okay. And then you’ll allow the urge. Or you can get up, walk around your house, dance for two minutes. It’s just about creating this new habit, allowing yourself, you know, we underestimate, you know, just coming into awareness and breathing and being aware of our breath and, you know, thinking and deciding on purpose what we want to do instead of just our old habits, our old automatic thoughts. You can create new habits.

You do this all the time. Your brain is amazing. You can create new neural pathways and you do this by just deciding on purpose one, what you want those new habits to be. And also, again, it always starts with awareness, coming into your thinking brain, and then deciding what habit you want to create.


So today’s transformational questions and actions are one, become aware of your triggers and how they have become habits. And number two, when a trigger happens, stop, disrupt, and breathe, or just get up, move around. I tell you there’s so, you know, again, this isn’t a 30-minute thing. This has nothing to do with exercise. It’s just this, when you use your physical body to move and get out of the environment or to, you know, breathe, there’s something that happens. It really does disrupt, you know, kind of that obsessive thought that is going on. My love, I used to have this all the time. I’m telling you, and it’s not that it doesn’t happen to me today. You know, if I’m feeling an emotion that I don’t want to feel, I, you know, my brain can be like, oh, we got to go get cookies. We gotta go get cookies. And just by one, becoming aware to stop, disrupt, and breathe. And then sometimes I just get up. I just get up, walk into another room, or, you know, call someone, talk to someone it’s just, again, disrupting that thought.


And then three again, disrupt the habit and decide what habit you want to create instead. One, become aware of your triggers and how they become habits. Two, when a trigger happens disrupt it. So stop, disrupt, and breathe. And then decide what habit you want to create instead.  Oh, such good work my love. If you love this work and you want to take it deeper, then take my free course.  Go to bflycoaching.com/ready.


Thank you for listening to this episode of Weight Loss for Successful Women. If you love what you heard today and want to learn more, come on over to bfly.coaching.com. See you next week.


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