Interesting article on Emotional eating

Discussion in 'Strugglers and Restarters' started by Amber34, 2 October 2007 Social URL.

  1. Amber34

    Amber34 Full Member

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    Although I don't recall doing so, apparantly I subscribed to the lifestyles newsletter at dietwatch.com.

    I just got an email through with a really interesting article on emotional eating - part 1 of a series of 4 - and I personally can relate to some of the tings in it, so thought I'd post it in case anyone else may find it helpful. I'll look out for more and post them as and when

    (As a quick note, I have nothing to do with this website - I just subscribe to anything that I think may help my crusade to shift the fat)


    Emotional Eating 101 (Part 1 of 4)
    by Roger Gould, M.D. This is the first of several articles on the subject of emotional eating. Over the next couple weeks, we are going to explore emotional eating, how it leads to obesity, why it should be considered a real addiction, and the strategies that work and don't work in dealing with the addiction.

    Emotional Eating
    If you are like most people, you are keenly aware that diet programs don't work for long. It's safe to say that no new diet or exercise regimen, no matter how biologically sound it may be, is likely to result in lifelong weight loss. But why is that? It's because you can't control what you eat.

    The bottom line is that you already know how to lose weight. You know that if you eat less and exercise more eventually you'll see the pounds come off. But if you know that eating less and exercising more will result in weight loss, why don't you just do it? What's getting in your way? Or, if you do succeed in losing a little weight with a diet, why do you usually regain the weight you lost? Why can't you hold onto healthier habits as a way of life? Why do you overeat despite your best intentions?

    The answer to all these questions is the same: emotional eating. Most simply defined, emotional eating means you eat to satisfy emotional hunger; it means you use food for comfort or as a way to cope with life; and it means you eat for reasons other than what your body needs.

    Take any moment in time, focus the camera lens on your neighborhood, take a close look, and you'll find emotional eating. You'll find dozens of people—maybe even hundreds or thousands—breaking their diets at this very second. All those people woke up this morning determined to stay away from fattening treats or eat reasonable portions, but by afternoon, many had one hand on the Twix Bar and the other on the forehead, wondering why, why on earth they had no willpower. In fact, you are probably one of those people. Maybe boredom at work has propelled you to the snack table, or a snub from a friend or an ugly new assignment. Whenever you reach for a boredom-breaking snack despite your commitment, or whenever you eat to quell anxiety, that's emotional eating. Whenever you binge after a fight, or double up on portions because your day turned sour, that's emotional eating. Whenever you feel that sharp craving for your favorite food, that's emotional eating.

    When it comes to emotional eating, people aren't eating to feed their body. No one needs a candy bar after a fight to make it through the night. When people eat at times like these, they are eating to satisfy, numb, or avoid their emotions. And unfortunately, it's all too common.
    People who are suffering from emotional eating are driven to eat so they won't have to face what's bothering them internally. And in many ways, they become addicted to this way of handling life. They feel compelled to eat in this way and can't control what they eat. That's why diets don't work. If you're struggling with emotional eating and can't choose to eat less and exercise more, you can't lose weight. It's that simple. And since no diet ever teaches you how to control what you eat, they are doomed to fail sooner or later. In other words, unless you can learn to stop emotional eating, you will never be able to lose weight and keep it off. Period.

    Emotional Hunger
    Emotional hunger is what fuels emotional eating. Unfortunately, you will always have emotional hunger no matter what you do. That's part of being human. However, emotional hunger is not so much the problem as how you deal with it.

    People who suffer from emotional eating usually only deal with emotional hunger by eating. And, since life is rife with emotional turmoil, emotional eaters are normally overweight. They are so attached to dealing with the ups and downs of life with food that any suggestion that they can stop emotional eating makes them nervous. Many people cannot imagine being able to handle a bad day without turning to food for comfort. In this way, the tendency to handle emotional hunger with food is no different then a smoker's tendency to handle stress with a cigarette.

    When you are an emotional eater, the odd thing about emotional hunger is that you feel truly hungry, and at the moment when the craving for food grips you, you can't tell that your hunger originates in your mind, not in your belly. People who are not emotional eaters, who never really satisfied emotional hunger with food, usually eat less when they are troubled by emotional hunger. Their emotional hunger doesn't feel like physical hunger, just as a non-smoker's stress doesn't give them the urge to smoke.

    I like to think of it this way: emotional eaters eat when they aren't really hungry because they have two stomachs—one real, the other a phantom. The hunger in your belly signals you when your system has a biological requirement for food. If that was the only signal of hunger you received, you'd be thin. It's the phantom stomach that causes the problems. The phantom stomach sends out a hunger signal when unruly emotions and unsolved personal agendas start pushing themselves into awareness. A short-circuit occurs, and you feel so hungry that you're compelled to eat.

    I see the power of the phantom stomach demonstrated almost daily in my work with patients. The other day, a patient who had just finished breakfast told me in the middle of a difficult session that she suddenly felt extremely hungry. As soon as we started talking about her sexual problems with her husband, her appetite kicked in and she could hardly wait to get to McDonald's. Her phantom stomach was shouting, demanding action.

    Phantom hunger has such power that it drives you to go to almost any lengths to satisfy it. I saw this fact demonstrated in Technicolor when I consulted at the Pritikin Institute in Santa Monica, California, where clients paid ten thousand dollars a month to take part in a controlled diet and exercise program. Although the tuition for the program far exceeded the cost of attending the most expensive private university in America, I frequently found participants sneaking out for hamburgers and french fries at a corner stand. These were all highly motivated people sent to Pritikin by their doctors because of serious, life-threatening health problems, but positive motivation clearly wasn't enough to help them resist phantom hunger. As you know, all dieting programs depend on positive motivation, ignoring the obvious: that there's such power in the emotional forces underlying the desire to binge or overeat that if you don't expose those forces and conquer them, you'll always be at their mercy—you'll always have weight problems.

    In a later article, we will discuss the 12 types of emotional hunger that I have identified, but for now, let's point out the main differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger so you can begin to differentiate between the two in your daily life.
    First, emotional hunger normally comes on like lightening, while physical hunger develops slowly. Emotional hunger is like a rocket going off: it happens suddenly. Physical hunger develops little by little: first there's the tummy rumble, then the grumble and then it really starts complaining with hunger pangs. But, the slow stages of physical hunger are very different from the quick onset of emotional hunger.

    Second, emotional hunger demands food immediately, whereas physical hunger is bit more patient. Much like its quick onset, emotional hunger demands immediate satisfaction. On the other hand, even if you are ravenously hungry, your physical hunger will wait for food.

    The third difference between the two involves mindfulness. Satisfying physical hunger involves a deliberate choice and awareness of what's being eaten. How much of what's being eaten is noticed, meaning you can stop when full. However, emotional hunger on the other hand usually doesn't notice how, why or what's being eaten. Emotional hunger will even demand more food even after the person is stuffed.
    Fourth, physical hunger is open to different types of foods, but emotional hunger often demands very particular foods in order to be fulfilled. If you're physically hungry, even carrots will look delicious. If you're emotionally hungry, however, only cake or ice cream might seem appealing.

    Fifth, satisfying emotional hunger often results in guilt, or promises to do better next time. This is in sharp contrast with physical hunger, which is viewed as necessary to survival and therefore has no guilt attached to it.

    And sixth, emotional hunger, of course, results from something emotionally upsetting, while physical hunger results from a physical need.

    Whenever you feel compelled to eat in a way that doesn't match the patience or speed of physical hunger you are struggling with emotional eating and hunger.
    Now that you've read this article and thought about it a little, it's time for you to personally evaluate how it applies to your life. Below are some questions and activities that you should answer and do before the next article becomes available. Taking these questions and activities seriously will help you get a better understanding of emotional eating.
    1. How hard is it for you to see emotional eating in your life? Is it very visible? If so, describe the instances you've got in mind. Do you think instances like this are the main obstacle to you losing weight? If it's not so visible, why do you think you have trouble eating less and exercising more?
    2. Do you have trouble differentiating between emotional hunger and physical hunger? Describe a time when you may have mistaken emotional hunger for physical hunger. What was happening at the time to make you emotionally hungry? Why didn't you deal with it directly, instead of using food?
    3. Until Part 2 of this series becomes available, examine your hunger whenever it arises. Try to use the six distinctions we laid out as a guide. Do you feel emotionally hungry more often than physically hungry? Do you always give into the emotional hunger or do you sometimes find another way to satisfy it without food?
    Roger Gould, M.D., the creator of Mastering Food, is commonly recognized as a pioneer and expert in the field of adult development. He developed a revolutionary, interactive approach to therapy, which has been studied by UCLA and tested on over 20,000 people. The latest study, conducted by UCLA and Kaiser Permanante, found that each of Dr. Gould's Guided Sessions are about as effective as traditional in-person therapy. According to Psychology Today, "Dr. Gould's program is the only online therapy program of its kind that is based on proven research results."
     
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  3. octavia

    octavia Full Member

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    Thats a great article and it rings very true for me. Thankyou for posting it, and I would love to read the others when they are sent to you:)
     
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  4. Russiandoll

    Russiandoll Carpe diem

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    Just stuck it in my favourites - thanks :)
     
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  5. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    Hey! This is my sort of post :D :D

    Lots of stuff I'd like to comment on. Don't know where to start :D

    I agree with so much of it, but some things I'm not so sure on.


    Very true. It's hard to tell the difference. I call it false hunger. It will go. Real hunger rarely does. It just gets worse and worse even though you are doing something else, until you can't concentrate on anything.
    I love that description :clap:


    Again, so true. If you eat for any other reason than to feed hunger, then it's unlikely that you'll notice the stop signal. If you haven't controlled your compulsive emotional eating, then you'll find that at times, it is almost impossible to stop when you've had enough.

    So very true. The compulsion is taken out. The desire to act immediately just isn't there.

    Right....agree with nearly all this. Dare I say what I personally don't agree with :D :D Dangerous I know, but I just love discussing this sort of thing
     
  6. Linda5111

    Linda5111 I can do this.

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    Added this to my favourites....thank u.
     
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  7. canireallydothis!!

    canireallydothis!! Gold Member

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    Its late for me so I cant take it all in, but, Im very interested in this, it seems very thought provoking, please do post more when you get it x
     
  8. canireallydothis!!

    canireallydothis!! Gold Member

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    I do want your opinion on what you dont agree with KD, this is fab stuff for me just right now x
     
  9. pandora

    pandora finding my way again !

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    cheers just printed it off to read later
    xx
     
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  10. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    Oh goody :D

    Not necessarily. Not all the time. Some of it is habit surely. Okay, the habit might have formed because of emotional eating in the past.

    For instance. When DH goes to work, he always takes a small bar of something to eat in the car on the way. A fun size choc or something. It's not a problem, he eats healthily most of the time, doesn't have a weight problem.

    Today I distracted him just as he got in the car. He ate it as we discussed something. Then he said "I've got to get another bar now" :D

    I've done things like that. The food accompanies something I do, it's a habit, a ritual. Nothing emotional really going on there, just used to eating during that period.

    Like getting up and having brekkie, even though you haven't thought about whether you need one or not. Just having it, because that is what you do. That's not emotional eating really, just ritualistic eating IMO.
    Well, you know I have an issue with that one ;) They do work. I preferred the phrase he used earlier. Diets don't work in the long term. Diets are a short term solution to the problem. They don't suggest otherwise.

    Admittedly, he is correct in stating that you don't really learn about emotional eating with diets. That's why so many people struggle to lose and end up putting it on again.
     
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  11. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    People with weight problems sometimes try to eat only when hungry, but that is like going from A-Z and trying to bypass all the other letters.

    Very hard to do. You have to sort out why you are eating first. That takes time.
     
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  12. canireallydothis!!

    canireallydothis!! Gold Member

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    I got confused about the bit where diets dont work, because it did for me, and it enabled me to get m,y head where it is now to deal with the emotional eating.

    Ok, what if I tried totally eating at the different times times, would that work and try and get me to break the habit of its 12 it must be lunch time??
     
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  13. Myteyboosh

    Myteyboosh Member

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    brilliant post!! thank you!

    boosh x:)
     
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  14. dyingtobeslim

    dyingtobeslim Full Member

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    I printed out the article and read it in the school car park - very interesting, thanks for posting it, I look forward to the next instalment.
     
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  15. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    It certainly would. I found putting my mealtimes around my 'social' life (that means shopping etc etc:() rather than my social life around my eating helped.

    Make sure you know what you are going to eat when you get back though or you might find yourself nibbling anything whilst you do your shopping trying to decide what to buy for lunch :D
     
  16. canireallydothis!!

    canireallydothis!! Gold Member

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    cool, and do you analise, do you sit down and say, Im physically hungry now so I can eat, or im not really hungry.

    I know I am hungry now, my tummy is rumbling, but it seems ages since I felt this physically hungry, over the past few weeks I think Ive eaten because I felt I should and thought Id faint if I didnt!!!!

    Need to get rid of that thought!!!
     
  17. canireallydothis!!

    canireallydothis!! Gold Member

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    should we move this into maitainence?? or is it ok here??
     
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  19. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    The emotional hunger was 'treated' with the AD thingy, but if I really thought I was hungry, I would get on and do something else until I was sure.

    You get to know the difference between emotional hunger and real hunger quite quick. When you do something else, your real hunger will just get more and more uncomfortable. Your concentration wanders. You don't crave the carby stuff so much and can happily wait while you sort out what you need.

    My danger hunger is when I know I must have something now. Real hunger isn't like that. It's patient :)
     
  20. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    The trouble with the maintenance place, is that few people read it I think :(

    I know that this sort of thing isn't really Cambridge. It's useful to know for all diets - especially during maintenance, but I think a lot of people aren't really aware of what they need to work on, and disappear just when they need stuff like this.

    We have a general weightloss forum somewhere don't we? Perhaps it needs moving there?
     
  21. tara1

    tara1 Member

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    really interesting article
     
  22. Maintainer

    Maintainer ** Chief WITCH **

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    Very interesting article indeed.

    I tend to say things like "diets don't work" too but of course I'm paraphrasing and really mean that "dieting and losing the weight isn't the end of the battle". I even managed to stabilise and maintain my weight for three years before losing the plot, so I probably would have said during that period that "diets do work"! Now I'm more cynical. (Of course there is the odd exception to every rule.)

    As for not eating until one's hungry that would be fine if one could give up work but unfortunately most of us aren't in that favourable position and we eat when we can, day time at least. This of course does go both ways and I can be hungry at 1pm ("real hunger") yet am in dictation so can't exactly start munching on my salad... hmm so I guess I have learned to "wait" under those circumstances.

    I too would be VERY interested in seeing the next episodes, wherever you post them... I've never done a VCLD but still get around the boards and find the posts in here which interest me!

    Special hello to Karion...
     
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