Willpower to stop bingeing is something a lot of people struggle with. Whether you plan to eat healthily or currently maintaining your weight, having the willpower to stay on track is a continuous effort. I’m thrilled that my guest, Dr. Glenn Livingston, is back on the show to teach us how to make sure we maintain the willpower to stop overeating.
Former Binge Eater
Dr. Glenn Livingston talked extensively about how to stop bingeing on episode 56 of the Learn True Health. He gave a lot of tips in that episode, so I suggest everyone check it out.
For those who have not heard the initial guesting of Dr. Glenn Livingston on my show, you’d be surprised that he was a former binge eater himself. He struggled throughout his younger years when he went to graduate school until he got married.
He found it had to exercise to career demands and so his metabolism went down. Having the willpower to stop eating just didn’t seem possible.
Family Of Psychologists
Dr. Glenn Livingston comes from a family of psychologists, so he felt it was essential to follow the same path. Seventeen family therapists to be exact!
When he got divorced years ago, Dr. Glenn Livingston was admittedly unhappy about that. He sought advice from his mother who was also a psychotherapist. That’s when he was able to trace his bingeing, particularly his love for chocolate.
Apparently, because of Dr. Glenn Livingston’s family situation when he was young, he was drawn to chocolate early on and was never really strictly regulated from eating it. That, according to Dr. Glenn Livingston, was the match that lit the fire.
Finding The Connection
Now that he knew the probable cause of his lack of willpower to stop bingeing, Dr. Glenn Livingston went to psychologists, psychiatrists, and even Overeaters Anonymous to research more about bingeing. He also funded a 40,000-person study between the late 90s and early 2000s.
“I got all of these people to take a survey about the food they were bingeing on, their lifestyle, personalities, and digging what the connection was. Then I realized that maybe it was because there was no self-love,” said Dr. Glenn Livingston.
In that study, Dr. Glenn Livingston found out that people who overeat on chocolate tend to be lonely. People who had trouble with crunchy, salty things were usually stressed at work. And people who were drawn to eating soft, chewy stuff like bagels and pasta, tend to be stressed at home.
“The emotional conversation with my mom led me to believe that I would be cured. I was able to forgive myself,” said Dr. Glenn Livingston. “I forgave my mom, and we became closer. And I feel I became a more soulful person.”
Justifying Emotional Discomfort
Dr. Glenn Livingston was able to come to terms that his bingeing originated from a time in his life where his mother did not regulate him from overeating. But his bingeing still didn’t stop. In fact, he found it as a justification to eat even more.
“If you have a fire that’s out of control, there are two strategies that you can use. You can try to put out the fire, or you can build a fireplace,” Dr. Glenn Livingston said. “A lot of people won’t have that emotional discomfort in order not to binge. I find that it helps a little, but it doesn’t work that well.”
He adds, “What works better is intervening at the level of that crazy food demon. Learn how to have clarity about how you want food to play in your life and make decisions about food ahead of time.”
Dr. Glenn Livingston says willpower is a fatigable muscle. And there are only so many right decisions we can make on any given day. This fact has been proven in so many medical studies.
“If you tax people mentally with math problems, they have more trouble resisting a marshmallow before and after the math problem,” explains Dr. Glenn Livingston. “Every decision you’re making is taxing the willpower. And that’s why people start the morning with the best intentions, then overeat at the end of the day.”
Furthermore, Dr. Glenn Livingston says that knowing we’re not targeting a loving part of the brain, addiction, on the other hand, targets a very aggressive part of the brain. Now the problem is, once we justify something like eating a chocolate bar, we are opening ourselves up to our lizard brain.
The lizard brain has the eat, mate or kills mindset. There is no love. Plus, addiction targets the lizard brain.
“You’re trying to nurture that part of you that’s having the craving. But the part of you that’s having the craving, isn’t this nurturing creature,” explains Dr. Glenn Livingston. “It’s no more part of your human identity than your testicles or ovaries are. They can generate urges, but it’s what you do with those urges that form your character, decisions, and way of eating.”
First of all, Dr. Glenn Livingston says we need clarity about what healthy food was and what it wasn’t. Focus and be clear about the kind of person you want to be around that food and make a clear commitment to be that person.
“Just for the moment, put aside the moment that you can’t do it. And imagine what if you did and how would your life be better,” Dr. Glenn Livingston advises. “Go into detail about the specifics of that future. We call this the ‘big why.'”
The ‘big why’ can be anything from wanting to lose weight, eating clean, have clearer skin, have more energy for work, be free from food obsession or wanting clothes to fit better. Some other reasons for developing the willpower to stop overeating is to be able to socialize or become a better role model for others.
“When your inner brat says you can’t do this because you’re deprived, think about what you are depriving yourself of, by you eating junk foods,” said Dr. Glenn Livingston. “It’s never a matter of whether you’re deprived or not. Either you’re going to deprive yourself of immediate pleasure, or you’re going to deprive yourself of the big future that you are looking for.”
He adds, “So what you want to do is make sure that you know both sides of that deprivation equation and make a decision.”
Get High On Food
Bottomline, Dr. Glenn Livingston recommends that people learn to get high with foods instead of being addicted to something unhealthy. He says it’s beneficial if people shift paradigms by learning the art of focusing and clarity.
If you’re set on getting on that road to health or need an added push, I suggest looking into Dr. Glenn Livingston’s programs. He offers individual and group programs which have produced a lot of success stories.
For added information on anything about how to stop overeating, do check out Dr. Glenn Livingston’s Never Binge Again podcast as well.
Glenn Livingston, Ph.D. is a veteran psychologist and was the long-time CEO of a multi-million dollar consulting firm which has serviced several Fortune 500 clients in the food industry.
His previous work, theories, and research have been published in major periodicals like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun Times, The Indiana Star Ledger, The NY Daily News, and American Demographics. He has also guested on ABC, WGN, and/or CBS radio, or UPN TV.
Disillusioned by what traditional psychology had to offer overweight and/or food obsessed individuals, Dr. Glenn Livingston spent several decades researching the nature of bingeing and overeating via work with his patients AND a self-funded research program with more than 40,000 participants. Most important, however, was his journey out of obesity and food prison to a normal, healthy weight and a much more lighthearted relationship with food.
Get Connected with Dr. Glenn Livingston:
Book by Dr. Glenn Livingston:
Recommended Reading by Dr. Glenn Livingston:
Rational Recovery by Jack Trimpey