Emotional Eating and Food Addictions
Are you overweight?
Have you dieted and then gained back the weight you have lost – again and again? Do you start every New Year with the best of resolutions to eat healthy so you can look better in your swimsuit by summertime? Despite your good intentions does your willpower diminish in the face of stress and temptation, leaving you feeling ashamed and like a failure?
If so, you are not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention almost 70% of American adults are overweight or obese. Almost 35% of adults are obese. Being overweight increases the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, hypertension, liver and gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory illnesses. Research has shown that the primary reason people fail at dieting and keeping weight off is emotional – not due to lack of willpower or motivation.
THAT IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT IDEA THAT I WILL SAY IT AGAIN.
The majority of people fail at dieting due to their emotions getting the better of them. It is not due to lack of motivation, it is not due to lack of willpower and it is not due to defects of character.
Sure, motivation and willpower work for a while.
You have probably proven that to yourself, time and time again, with temporary success on whatever popular dieting program you have tried. Unfortunately, the truth is that motivation and willpower require energy to maintain. Over time your reserves of energy for willpower and motivation begin to diminish in the face of everyday stress. Before you know it, your hunger becomes stronger and your willpower less. Then you cheat just a bit – a bite of chocolate here or just a small bowl of ice cream there - then a bit more and a bit more – and before you know it, you are back to where you began.
The more you diet and fail, the worse you may feel about yourself.
It is also deleterious to your health. Your relationship to food can become out of control. You may feel powerless, hopeless, ashamed, guilty, angry or anxious which only make things worse. Your thoughts may become consumed about food as you restrict your calories. As stressors build, food then becomes the great comforter, where for a short while your troubles go away when you load up on sweets, starches, salts and fats that put you temporarily in a food trance. The comfort from the food trance presents a greater immediate allure than that long term goal of fitting in the bathing suit. Then, once again, you get disgusted with yourself and try the next popular diet on the market only to begin another cycle of losing weight then gaining it back. You may even think this behavior is normal because so many people do it.
There is a saying attributed to Albert Einstein that has become somewhat of a cliché. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This seems to rightly apply to the condition of yo-yo dieting.
Eating to feed our emotions
Binge eating, emotional eating, stuffing our feelings, eating without awareness – we eat these ways when we use food to regulate our emotions, not because we are actually hungry. In America we have been conditioned to view food not just as sustenance for our bodies but often more for the pleasure it gives us. Television and other media ceaselessly bombard us with commercial after commercial advertising the pleasures of great tasting foods that are packed with empty calories. For many people food became a substitute for love and attention early in childhood. For others food produced a protective layer of fat around their bodies which acted to keep others from getting close. No matter what the reason – an argument with a friend or just a bad day at work – when you turn to food to feel better emotionally on a regular basis then it can be problematic.
When you eat to feed your emotions instead of your body, you can develop more than just bad eating habits. You can become addicted emotionally, psychologically and physically to foods that are calorie dense but nutritionally poor. It may seem strange but many overweight and obese people are nutritionally deficient. Despite the layers of fat, their bodies are actually starving for vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, lean proteins and good fats. After a while of this lack of nutrients, the body begins breaking down and diseases such as diabetes, which my pimary care doctor calls the "nightmare disease”, may result.
Diets don't work
The problem with most diets is that they work only temporarily – which really means that they don’t work. It is typical that they involve some sort of unsustainable deprivation, usually through a drastic reduction of calories or by eating special types of food. You might still have cravings for innutritious foods. If you are a binge eater, a diet will never supply enough to fill your emotional emptiness.
There is hope.
There are solutions. You will need to make some changes. But the changes are well worth making because you will feel better physically and emotionally. I can’t promise that it will be instant or easy, but our best accomplishments in life are usually neither instant nor easy. You will have to summon your willpower and motivation yet once again – but this time they will be focused on different goals. This website will help you. It is my gift to you. Keep coming back as I will add content regularly. If you need more face-to-face help, call my office and make an appointment. Either way I will help you enter a new phase of your life - a happier and healthier phase.
Don’t put it off. Get started right now. Your health and your life may depend on it.
Press the GET STARTED link now.