Got Goals? Join Brooke's brand new Big Goals Workshop here.

One of the most important things that has come out of my work with myself and my clients in the Stop Overeating Masterclass is the understanding of the difference between stopping over eating and stopping desiring to overeat.

A lot of people who don’t overeat simply don’t think food is that big of a deal. On the other hand, people who have an issue with overeating have an incredibly strong desire for more food than our body requires. Understanding and controlling that desire makes all the difference in the world in the weight loss process.

On this episode of The Life Coach School, we take a deep dive into the reasons why certain people have a stronger desire to eat way too much and look at wat we can do to better control it. Listen in to this in-depth exploration of desire to overeat (and overindulge in just about anything) and discover the strategies for eliminating it.

What you will discover

  • Why certain people have a stronger desire for more food that our body requires.
  • The role dopamine plays in our desire to overeat.
  • The importance of conditioning in that process.
  • Why we feel deprivation when we stop overeating.
  • The key thing you need to do before you can start lose weight and keep it off.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to The Life Coach School podcast where it's all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. Now your host, Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo.

Hey, my friends. How are you today? Doing amazingly well? I hope that you have signed up for the webinar that's coming up, Stop Overeating webinar. If you haven't, you can just go to and click on that top banner. It's $97. It's 90 minutes. There will be a replay and it's also great to sign up for it if you're interested in working with me long term. You don't have to. You still get the 90 minutes and all the information you can take it and run with it from there but if you're interested in working with me long term, it's a great introduction to the work that we will be doing together over the next 6 months.

Today, I want to talk to you about weight loss and desire because I think one of the most important things that has come out of my work with myself and also with my clients through the Stop Overeating Masterclass is how important it is to understand the difference between stopping overeating and stopping desiring to overeat. Here's how I want you guys to think about this and I will ask you this question. What's really fascinating is I ask this question at the very beginning of working with my students and the end and the answers were very different. If I was going to ask you, would you rather not desire extra food or would you rather just be able to manage it better?

Here's what most of my students will say. They'll say, "I just want to be able to eat a piece of cake. I just want to be able to have an ice cream cone. I just want to be able to sit down and have a half a plate of pasta and just eat like a normal person." What I will say to them that's very challenging for those of us who have food issues to understand is that the desire to overeat in those of us who overeat is stronger than it is in stronger than it is in normal people. When they say they want to eat like a normal person, what they're really saying is they want to desire food less.

The best example I have of this is with drinking alcohol. I have a very good friend who always orders drinks and is very uninterested in actually drinking them. She feels pressured to ... I actually have 2 friends like this. She actually feels pressured to order the drink but it bothers her stomach so she doesn't really drink it and she just wants to have it. It's just part of the social environment. When I say I just want to drink like her, what I'm really saying is I just don't want to have a taste for wine. I just don't want to have a desire for it because that's how she drinks.

Now there's people that this is how they feel about food. A lot of people that don't overeat just don't think food is that big of a deal. That's why they'll say just eat less like what's the big deal? For those of us who don't smoke, we're like, "Just don't smoke. What's the big deal?" For those of us how aren't addicted to heroin, just don't do heroin. For those of us who don't have a compulsion to shoplift, we're like, "Just don't steal anything." It's easy for us to say that.

What we get confused by is that desire that we have for more food than our body requires. We have a desire for it. Now there are reasons. One of the main reasons is dopamine in the brain. It's a neurotransmitter. It's the transmitter of desire and I'm going to talk about this a lot in the webinar. I'm going to talk about how dopamine increases our desire and makes it so we end up overeating. If any of you guys have done a lot of binging, dopamine is a huge culprit. It's interesting because dopamine is involved in overeating, over-drinking, drugs, a lot of those things and you make dopamine in your own brain. It's not like it's something that you go without if you eat less but the way that the body reacts to it creates that desire. That's one of the reasons.

The other reason that we have an intense desire is because of the way that we are conditioned. We have the neurotransmitter, we have the biology, the desire to seek food and eat it which has kept us alive up until now. We don't really need that one anymore. Then we've also been conditioned to overeat by mainstream media, by the restaurants, by the way that food is presented, and it's such a huge part of our life and how often we eat and how we're expected to eat and all the holidays. All of those things we're conditioned - genuinely conditioned to overeat. That's why one of the reasons why it's such a huge issue for so many of us is because it's so accepted and we are conditioned to overdesire food. We've made it so it tastes so brilliant and it's so available and it's so pretty and it's so associated with so many things that we desire more than is normal to desire food.

If you think about how food shows up in the world, do you think about how you have to kill an animal and then eat it on the open flame? When you're hungry, yeah, you want to eat that. When you're not hungry, it's not as appetizing unless you live in the day that we live in where it's a cupcake and it's beautiful and it doesn't matter if you're hungry when you eat it. You don't need to be hungry when you eat something like that. We've really been conditioned to desire food more and partly because of the way food is prepared and how many organizations and industries are very excited about us overeating because, I mean, just look in fast food. The more we overeat, the better for them. That's some conditioning that we have going on for overeating as well.

The other reason why we really desire food and we desire overeating is it provides us with a very big distraction from emotional pain. It's a way of avoiding our emotional pain and seeking pleasure instead. When you combine those 3 things, when you combine the dopamine that's in our brain and the neurotransmitters, you combine the conditioning that we're all exposed to living in this world that we're living in especially in America and the inability that many of us have to be able to manage our own emotions and our own emotional life because we've never been trained and we don't have that skill set and we have food and weight pain, which is the way that I define weight pain is the struggle between overeating and then going on diets and how all consuming that is for our brains to do those 2 things, and how we actually seek that out in many ways so we don't have to deal with our relationship with ourselves, so we don't have to deal with out emotional life if we don't know how to manage it. It's really challenging for us to be able to manage our emotional lives when we don't have the skill set that we need.

I think that that's one of the reasons why my understanding of life coaching and psychology and also the body and nutrition really are important when it comes to losing weight because it's not just enough to understand how to manage our emotional life. It's not just enough to understand how our brains like to be efficient and how we're conditioned to want to overeat. We also need to understand our neurotransmitters. What's going on in our brain? What is going on that's causing us to overdesire something?

Now back to my question. If I could remove your desire for overeating, I wouldn't have to teach you any of these shenanigans that we try and teach in all of these diets. One of the best examples I think I've ever used with any of my students is the example of shoplifting because most of us don't struggle with this, right? Here's how I want you to imagine it and this is how we've set up in our world. Overeating is not natural. It's not something that our bodies need to do or is helpful for us to do especially when there's plenty of food around. Yet, we accommodate that desire as if it is normal. What happens is somebody will say to me, "I just want to find a way to accommodate my desire to overeat. I just want to find a way to deal with my desire to overeat in a way that isn't so painful."

Now if a client were to come to me and say, "I want to shoplift in moderation," we would say, "What are you talking about? Why? Why would you want to shoplift in moderation?" People say I want to drink in moderation. I want to overeat in moderation. Why? Why do you want to set yourself up for something that isn't ultimately going to serve you? Wouldn't you rather just not have the desire to shoplift? We don't ask this question of ourselves. We don't ask this question when it comes to overeating. We just say, "How can we accommodate our desire to overeat?"

That's why the way that we accommodate our desire to overeat is by making foods that aren't really foods, by having little shenanigan ways of eating at certain times, of eating in certain ways, of eating certain food and certain combinations that help us accommodate. There's skinny cloud foods. They're not really food but you'll think you're eating. It's a way of accommodating this. We'll present you with food that taste delicious but low calories and we'll bring it to your door.

Now if we were to associate this with shoplifting, it's like we create stores where you can come shoplift without getting arrested. You just pay a cover charge as you come in and then try and be sneaky. We've set up this entire industry so you can accommodate your need to shoplift. People would be like, "That's insane. Why would you create a place where people can shoplift? Shoplifting is a sign that something's not right." Yes, it's the same with overeating. I don't want to treat your desire to overeat. I don't want to teach you how to accommodate it. I want to understand it and change it for you because if I can help you with your desire to overeat, then you can go to any event and there can be tons of food. You can lose any amount of weight and there can still be tons of food and you won't gain it back because your desire to overeat will have been changed, not just the way you deal with that desire.

Yes, there are some physical reasons that we need to look at. Yes, there are some conditioning reasons. One of the main reasons that I am the best at helping you deal with is what are you using food to avoid? If someone were to come to you and say, "How do you not overeat?" That seems like a challenging question but if someone were to come to you and say, "How do you not do heroin?" you would just say, "You just don't do heroin." People say “but I don't know how to not overeat.” You just don't overeat.

Now the same thing happens with heroin. Yeah, not using it is easier said than done but the real work comes, "Okay, if I'm not going to use heroin, then I have to deal with what's left over if I'm not using that drug." Why did I want to use it in the first place? The same is with overeating. If you just never overeat, you're going to be dealing with the cause of that. I said this in my first book. I say this all the time. If you want to find out why you're overeating, stop overeating. Then it'll become very clear. You'll be really in touch with that emotion that you're trying to avoid.

Now a lot of people will tell me that what they feel when they stop overeating is deprivation and what I want to point out that is really important that you understand is that deprivation comes from the desire to overeat. Deprivation doesn't exist without that initial desire. People think that deprivation is something that's gone terribly wrong. The way that I want you guys to think about deprivation is like how a heroin addict or a tobacco addict would think about withdrawal, without the drug in the first place, without the overuse in the first place. There is no withdrawal and it's the same with food. Without the overeating in the place, there is not deprivation. The deprivation comes from the desire to overeat. If we can work on your desire to overeat and eliminate the desire to overeat, then there is no deprivation.

I don't want you going to a restaurant and not ordering what you want to order and feeling deprived. That's not sustainable long term. I want you to go to a restaurant and just genuinely not want to overeat. It's how I feel about alcohol now. I go to a restaurant, I just genuinely don't want wine. It's the most miraculous thing that's ever happened in the world to me. It was the same way with food. When I could look at those Oreos and just genuinely not want them, I thought like I've been touched by an angel. That's how I feel now about wine because I've worked on my brain to understand the desire that is there and how it was conditioned to desire it and how my body was conditioned in the exact same way that most of you all listening are with food. We're conditioned to like it. We're conditioned to desire it and overdesire it. If you don't desire it, there is no deprivation.

I've had students say to me, "Well, I don't think that not overeating is sustainable. I don't think it's sustainable to go through my life and not overeat." I don't think most people understand how silly that sounds and it would be like me saying, "I don't think it's sustainable for me to go through life and not shoplift. Now if everybody shoplifts, if that's something that everybody does, then it makes more sense that it would be more acceptable. The truth is just because as a society, we tend to overeat, we tend to be obese doesn't mean that life isn't sustainable without it. Life is very sustainable without it.

I want you to think about your life as it is and answer this question. Is your life as it is sustainable without avoiding, without going to overeating, without escaping it? Can you live in your current life without overeating? If the answer is no, please let yourself know the truth. All progress comes from telling that truth to yourself. If your life isn't sustainable without overeating, the answer is not to overeat. The answer is to create a life that is sustainable without overeating. The answer is to create a life that you can sustain without needing to escape, without having the desire to avoid an emotion. You have a life that's sustainable and your desires are for what you want in your life.

Now here's the issue with desire when it comes to overeating and this is true with anything in your life. It's desiring something against your own will. It's desiring something that gives you a result that you do not want. This would apply to shoplifting and heroin and drinking too much alcohol and eating too much food. The desire, the overdesire creates an over something in your life, that creates a result that you do not want. A lot of times, I'll talk about this like you're eating against your own will. It's like you don't want to be eating something but you're eating against your own will. That's when you're overdesiring something.

Now a lot of you will tell me that the reason why you desire something is because you just really like the taste and it's just really delicious. What I want to say is that that's never the case because wanting to eat is a very natural thing, wanting to overeat is not. Wanting to get a good deal on something at the store is natural and you get a good result. Stealing something or shoplifting something is not natural. You don't get good results. It's overwanting, basically. I want you to really think about your level of desire when it comes to overeating.

I had a little rant, it's fun. I had a little rant on my communication board with some of my students and one of the things that I was laughing about is that overeating is something that you have to justify not doing. If you don't have a cupcake, would someone need you to explain yourself why aren't you having a cupcake? Why aren't you having a piece of pizza? I laugh and I say, "Well, why are you having a cupcake?" That's the explanation that I want like why are you having 7 pieces of pizza. We would never ask someone that, right? Why are you overeating so much ever? We would never ask someone that. People would be offended if you ask them that.

It's more accepted to say, "Why are you undereating? Why aren't you eating that?" We have to justify not eating. We don't have to justify overeating, which I think is totally fascinating. I think you need to think about that for yourself. Ask yourself, why are you overeating something and why do you have that desire to overeat it? It's not some deep dark secret. It's not like you're going to discover that something happened to you when you're a child. You're using the overeating as a way of distracting.

Now on a micro level, a lot of us use overeating so we can get out of our current emotion. We use the food so we don't have to experience frustration or we don't have to experience overwhelmed or we don't have to experience boredom. That's why we overeat. Also on a larger level, having the issue of being overweight and having the issue of dieting and having the issue of overweightness and focusing on that is also a distraction. Thinking about that and constantly thinking about how much we weight or what size we are, how much weight we want to lose is a way of not staying present with ourselves, in our current life as well.

It's not just that micro I'm going to get out of this emotion, it's also that macro I'm going to have a huge part of my life focused on this weight struggle and weight pain instead of focusing on the other deeper meaningful things in my life. This was the truth for me when I was spending so much of my time and energy and so much of my intelligence on trying to lose weight. I remember thinking, "I cannot wait to figure this out," and when I do, I'm going to share it with everybody else. It's just like me because this is bullshit. It's basically what I said and that's exactly what I'm doing. I have figured it out, I have discovered why I had a desire to overeat and now I never have the desire to overeat.

Even if I do have a desire to overeat something, which is very rare because I'm paying very close attention, but I think just like normal people, sometimes they overeat. Sometimes they have a desire to overeat just like every once in a while, someone will smoke a cigar, smoke a cigarette when they normally don't. It's a temporary thing that doesn't need to be explained or compensated for anything like that. It's just one of those things that happens in our brain and in our life and it's fine and it doesn't harm us when we overdesire something on a consistent basis. That's when we bring ourselves harm. That's when we eat against our own will.

I want you guys to have some really a good takeaway from this podcast is I want you to look at what you're eating, especially what you're overeating in your life. If you don't know if you're overeating, let me just tell you really quickly that if you're not at the weight you want to be and you're not losing weight, then you are overeating. Whether you think you eat a lot or not, if you're not losing weight and you're not the weight you want to be, you're overeating. Ask yourself why? What is that desire about why do you want to eat more than your body requires for fuel? When you answer that question and you really understand it, then and only then will you be able to change. I promise you, that change will be sustainable because you won't be constantly fighting against that desire. You will be free from the desire. I don't want you to be free from overeating. I want you to be free from the desire to overeat. I hope that makes sense.

If you have questions about this, if you want me to help you with this, if you want to take this to the next level of work, I am offering a webinar on March 17th that you can sign up for. It is 90 minutes of pure content. After the 90 minutes, I will be talking about my program, Stop Overeating Masterclass. If you're not interested in that, you don't have to stay. It's 90 minutes of pure content and there will be a replay so you will be able to go back through and it's solid information, it's solid science where I go into all the things I talked about on this podcast today and way, way more. I really hope that you'll join me there and if not, you absolutely can ask me questions over at and I will answer your comments on one of our upcoming episodes. Have a beautiful, amazing week everybody. Take care. Bye.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School podcast. It is my honor to show up here every week and connect with people that are like-minded, wanting to take their life to a deeper level with more awareness and more consciousness. If you are interested in taking this work to the next level, I highly encourage you to go to It is there that I have a class that will take all of this to a deeper application where you'll be able to really feel and experience how all of these concepts can start showing up in your life. It's one thing to learn it intellectually, it's another thing to truly apply it to your life. I will see you there. Thanks again for listening.

Get Coached in Self Coaching Scholars Today