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Roger Gould, M.D.  
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Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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The 3 Essentials to Ending Emotional Eating

Sep 18, 2014 - 0 comments
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emotional eating

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End Emotional Eating



The occasional indulgence in something like junk food is not a problem. In fact, you'd have to be a robot to not want to occasionally indulge. It's when indulging becomes habitual or compulsive, though, that the problem of emotional eating arises.

The need to avoid difficult emotions like stress, loneliness and anxiety is the driving force behind an emotional eating habit. The flavor rush that comes from foods high in fats and sugar provides an almost tranquilizer-effect to the emotional eater, temporarily shutting down their stress, and—unfortunately—their intelligent mind.

The guilt that follows ensures the original stress remains at bay as the mind can now only focus on feelings of failure and disappointment. All of which are usually followed by a steely resolve to "never binge again."

Aside from the regular dent to self-esteem and confidence, the emotional eating habit drives weight-gain by making the ability to eat responsibly extremely difficult. It's a vicious cycle: difficult feelings drive you to eat, which only create more difficult feelings and increased weight, which in turn create more difficult feelings.

Once you've recognized your own emotional eating pattern and the part it plays in your inability to manage your weight, there are three essential steps you'll need to take in order to end it:

1. Accept that life is more complex than you want it to be.
2. Acknowledge that using food to numb the pain of thinking (emotional eating) is not an effective coping mechanism.
3. Trust that you do have the intelligence to deal with life's complexities in more effective ways than eating.

Accept. Acknowledge. Trust. These are scary words to many. They require a stepping outside of our comfort zones—something that goes against the very thing emotional eaters are searching for: Comfort.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in a comment from one of our members who revealed that, upon receiving news from her doctor that she may have moved from pre-diabetic to diabetes, her first impulse was to, "go and get a doughnut."

I trust and hope that "Beth" has continued on her path to ending her emotional eating habit. Just as I trust and hope that you, too, will place the need to live a long and healthy life above the impulse to find temporary comfort at the bottom of another food jar.

It's an endeavor truly worthy of your time and effort.

Control Emotional Eating with this One Simple Question

Sep 04, 2014 - 0 comments
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emotional eating

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End Emotional Eating

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binge eating



If "ending emotional eating" sounds like too difficult a goal to accomplish, I'd like for you to focus instead on a different one. A goal that is very achievable, and that will produce the exact same result...

Ask yourself "Why do I want to eat?" instead of "What do I want to eat?"

This is the most crucial question an emotional eater can ever ask themselves; it's the key to engaging your mind instead of your stomach. And it must happen the moment the urge to binge kicks in.

If you set yourself the goal of becoming an expert at asking "Why do I want to eat?" you'll set into motion the beginning of the end of your emotional eating pattern.

Emotional eating simply cannot sustain if your mind is actively engaged and silencing your triggers. It's like trying to do arithmetic while reciting the alphabet.

In addition, each time you ask "Why do I want to eat?" you allow your mind to do what it's naturally designed to: Problem-solve. And in the case of an emotional eater, this problem-solving starts by first identifying the events or people (triggers) that are causing your stress, then formulating effective solutions that don't involve eating.

Again, this is what your mind is naturally designed to do. There is no great effort required on your part. No having to concentrate like a Zen monk. Just a simple invitation for your mind to go to work is all that's required.

Your answers may not arrive immediately. They may not even arrive as fast as you'd like. But they will arrive. And in the interim, your ability to sidestep emotional eating will be naturally reinforced, not to mention the increase in your confidence, your self-esteem and your ability to control your weight.

What's gratifying, too, about all of this is that you'll free yourself from the gimmicks and marketing of the weight-loss industry. It currently generates $20 Billion-per-year in sales and pays celebrities between $500,000 to $3 million to endorse a product. And guess where all that money comes from? Everyday people handing over their cash in the hopes that the next magic pill, smoothie or workout routine will finally cure their weight problems.

The reality, of course, is that permanent weight loss only happens once you no longer need food to cope emotionally. It's no great secret. Nor is the way to achieve it. For those of you who'd like a little expert help in establishing the "Why do I want to eat?" habit, my free Pocket Hunger Coach app is available across all of your devices.

And if you're still having trouble working out the problems and finding the answers, the ShrinkYourself Program is always here for you.

Either way, I encourage you to ask yourself, "Why do I want to eat?" instead of "What do I want to eat?" the next time the urge to binge kicks in. It'll be a huge step in the right direction.

Emotional Eating Control: How to Stop Feeling Deprived

Aug 28, 2014 - 0 comments
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emotional eating

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stop emotional eating

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emotional eating control



When your body's deprived of the nutrition it needs, a signal is sent out, alerting you to the fact. This may take the form of a rumble in the stomach, a headache or even dizziness. Regardless, this is legitimate, biological hunger. Your body's way of telling you to eat. Now.

When you are deprived of things like love, human contact or job satisfaction, a signal is also sent out. It may take the form of anger, anxiety or even depression. This can be thought of as emotional hunger. And this, too, is a legitimate need—a psychological one.

In order to live a happy and healthy life, we must satisfy both our biological hunger and emotional hunger. Unfortunately for many of you, it's food that's used to satisfy both. And this is the essence of emotional eating: attempting to satisfy your psychological needs with food.

Perhaps you eat a piece of cake instead of confronting someone. Maybe you visit the drive-thru instead of visiting a friend. Or perhaps you snack late at night instead of going to sleep with your spouse.

And on it goes.

The first thing to understand clearly here is that this is NOT something to feel ashamed of. We are human beings, which means we are flawed. As such, you, I and everybody else in the world have simply done, and are doing, the best we can to survive, with the information and tools that have been made available to us.

All of us have been dealt a different hand. What matters is what we do with that hand. And hopefully, by reading this blog post and receiving the tools and information it offers, an ace or king finds its way into your hand. One that you'll be able to benefit from for the rest of your life.

Doris's Reality Check

In order to stop feeling deprived, the first thing you need to do is separate the two kinds of deprivation. i.e. is it your body that's being deprived of its required nutrition (biological hunger)? Or is it your mind being deprived of its required psychological needs (emotional hunger)?

A patient of mine, let's call her Doris, snacks late in the afternoon and again before bed. She does this to stop herself from feeling deprived. When I asked Doris if she could fast for twelve-hours in order to prepare for a blood glucose test, she answered that she'd successfully done that several times in her life.

I asked her if her feelings or hunger had been unbearable during those times. Doris said that they hadn't been unbearable, and that, despite being hungry, she hadn't felt deprived at any stage.

"Then, you can handle the deprivation of food?" I said.

Doris's eyes lit up because she'd never thought of it in that way before; she'd been eating automatically whenever she felt deprived (emotionally hungry) since she was a little girl—without ever thinking about it.

Doris's Insight

Doris went on to tell me about an unfortunate childhood in which she was continually deprived. Deprived not of food; but of love, understanding and acceptance. And it was those feelings that sent her running into the arms of comfort food.

Today, as an adult, Doris continues this same pattern. Whenever she feels under-appreciated or unloved, she feels deprived (emotional hunger) and, instead of taking positive action, she eats.

An important distinction to make here is that Doris feeling deprived is a normal response; but the intensity in which she feels deprived, is not; it's simply a response to the memory of her childhood. Memories (and feelings) that have never been fully processed and put to rest.

These few moments of insight opened the door to a stunning piece of self-analysis and a remarkable outcome for Doris.

Your Journey

In order to end emotional eating, you need to understand that the feelings you are running away from (by eating) will, in fact, not hurt you; they will only help you discover your true self, and propel you forward.

Mastering the pause technique is the key to allowing these feelings in. Something my free Pocket Hunger Coach app is specifically designed to do.

You may then be able to explore these feelings on your own, and process them in order to put them behind you. If, however, you need some expert help and guidance, the ShrinkYourself Program is always just a click away.

However you proceed, please remember that attempting to satisfy your emotional hunger with food will never deliver the emotional nourishment you truly need. It's a long empty road. One littered with perhaps an even worse kind of deprivation...

That of your health and happiness.

3 Reasons Why You are Still Binge Eating

Jul 14, 2014 - 4 comments
Tags:

binge eating

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emotional eating

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stress eating



In a study conducted by Harvard University it was determined that binge eating is the most common eating disorder. More common than even anorexia or bulimia—two disorders which receive much more attention and discussion.

Millions of people struggle with binge eating. Almost 3% of the U.S. population in fact. And here are the 3 main reason why so many people do:

1. To cope with painful feelings.
2. To create the illusion of feeling good.
3. To feel "safe" or shut out the world.

Any of these sound familiar?

Drug of Choice

To millions of people, food can—and has—become the most readily-accessible over-the-counter form of self-medication. The drug of choice. One that's completely legal. Inexpensive. And available 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

It's the drug-like effect that food can produce—something I call the food trance—that has people making comments like these:

"If I'm all doped up on a food high, nothing else matters."

"In a food trance, I belong. I fit in. I'm somebody. I'm in love. I matter. I'm not inadequate. Happier times are remembered. I'm soothed."

The food trance is the first way binge eating appeals to people. It's mind-numbing. It's immediate. It keeps difficult emotions like depression, anger and loneliness at bay. Some people even manage to "delay" their difficult feelings by making plans to "deal" with them later when they are in a position to binge.

e.g. A tough day at work results in you obsessing all day about what you're going to eat when you get home.

Like most drugs, however, the effects are only temporary. And once they've worn off, you're back at where you started. Worse still, once you shut down your mind too many times with food, binge eating becomes a compulsion.

Simply put, a binge eating compulsion means your mind now believes that you must eat in order to effectively manage your stress.

Not yoga. Not exercise. Not even laughter...

Just eat.

And once this happens, you find yourself in a position where you simply cannot control what you eat—no matter how hard you try.

Guilt

Upon completing your binge eating episode, another nasty problem presents itself: Regret. Or, as I'll explain, the relief that regret provides you.

Think about the words you aim at yourself when you're filled with regret after a binge. Words like, "failure," "hopeless" and "stupid."

These words can be thought of as a tape your mind plays itself. A negative script it knows by heart. And, unfortunately, this tape is actually a relief to you as it completely diverts your attention away from the issues you're too afraid to face—the very same issues that led you to seek the comfort of food in the first place.

In a nutshell: your post-binge guilt gives you something else to think about. And this is the second, and very powerful way, that binge eating appeals to so many people.

The Binge Eating Cycle

If you're familiar with binge eating, you might know the cycle by heart.

1. You desperately want to binge.
2. You give in to the binge.
3. You feel remorse after the binge.
4. You promise yourself you'll never binge again.
5. You binge again, and hate yourself for it.

Understanding this destructive cycle is the first step in reclaiming your ability to eat sensibly again. That means understanding how binge eating has been benefiting you, and the reasons you've come to depend on it—something we work on in the Shrink Yourself Program.

Once you recognize and understand this, you'll be in a position to do something about it. Merely dieting or calling on your willpower will have no effect in disrupting your binge eating cycle. The reason being is they both fail to address the emotional reasons driving you to the fridge in the first place.

Without this deeper understanding, you're merely throwing paper darts at a brick wall.

Expert Help

You may have an idea of why you binge eat, but perhaps not an understanding on how to stop. You can take my quick Binge Eating Diagnostic to gain the insights you need to end the destructive habit.

And remember my free Pocket Hunger Coach app works 24/7 on your phone, tablet and desktop to expertly guide you past the urge to binge and back onto the road to sensible eating.