242532?1269553979
Roger Gould, M.D.  
Male

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

All Journal Entries Journals
Sort By:  

Controlling Emotional Eating: Your Checklist for Success

Aug 23, 2012 - 4 comments
Tags:

emotional eating

,

controlling emotional eating

,

overeating

,

binge eating

,

Shrink Yourself

,

Dr. Roger Gould



Most of our blog posts talk about the habits, challenges and symptoms of emotional eating and how they affect various aspects of our lives. It's easy for emotional eaters to relate to the pain and guilt that comes with overeating, and easy to forget about picturing yourself actually recovering from the grasp of emotional eating.

Here's how a Shrink Yourself member describes her success after about one year of working the Program.

I've lost 64 pounds. Woo hoo!

I've changed my goal from an "ideal weight" goal to a "body fat" goal. I'm 32.1% body fat today. I'm shooting for 29% because my YMCA trainer told me that's the high end of the healthy range for females my age.

I got rid of my high blood pressure, I'm no longer on medications for it.

My high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, is gone now, too.

Pre-diabetic symptoms are gone.

Even though I'm still overweight, I accept and even pretty much like my body now. I look at other women my age now, the vast majority of whom seem to be overweight or obese, and I generally feel like "my body is okay." I'm not sure I'll make that body fat percentage goal because the last couple of months I've been losing it so slowly, but I at least want to maintain what I've done and hopefully keep making slow progress.

My junk food consumption has gone from daily, to less than once-a-week. Other than a couple of Subway sandwiches, I can't recall eating any fast food in the past year. Primarily I now cook my own natural food.

I now see cooking and meal prep as nurturing myself; not drudgery.

Where I used to see sweets and refined foods as desirable, I now see them as undesirable, and very rarely have cravings for them.

Whereas I used to never get 5 fruits or vegetables per day, now it's probably a rare day when I don't get at least a dozen servings. If I overeat now, it's usually on healthy food and does very little "damage," either to my health, or my appearance, or to how I feel about myself.

I can think of only a handful of 500-700 calorie binges in the past year. Mostly I am doing binge prevention.

I am exercising enough, usually 6-12 times a week (I like to split my workouts up into two 30-45 minute sessions instead of once a day).

I can run now-in fact, I've improved so much in cardiovascular fitness, I can't easily get my heart rate into the cardio range with most exercises other than running now.

I rarely use food as a reward (as opposed to nearly daily before.) I enjoy food but don't tend to think of it as "a treat."

I often listen to my body (but not always). My husband took me out to eat last week for prime rib (which I'm sensitive to) and I said, "What the heck... if I'm going to eat something bad for me I'm not stopping till it's gone." I stuffed myself, and then regretted it. I realized it had been so long since I had had the stuffed feeling that I had totally forgotten how miserable it is and gave myself a "memory booster."

Last night we went out to eat again and believe me, I DID NOT stuff myself, and chose only healthy foods from the all-you-can-eat buffet.

I can usually tell the difference between physical and emotional hunger. I'm getting better at not eating when I know the hunger is emotional, but sometimes I still do it anyway. Sometimes I savor my food and am not the first one finished (this is still the habit that's the toughest for me).

As you can see, even long-standing patterns can change. There is so much more at stake than just a number on the scale. In addition to reducing your weight, you can improve your health, build your self-confidence and live a more fulfilling life!

What will YOUR success story look like?

3 Reasons You Use Food to Punish Yourself

Jun 28, 2012 - 7 comments
Tags:

emotional eating

,

overeating

,

binge eating

,

Overweight

,

Obesity

,

Roger Gould



Using food as a reward is a common theme for emotional eaters. On the flip side, however, people also overeat as a form of punishment. Using food, whether as a source of comfort or as a hostile act towards yourself or others, is still emotional eating.

Do you eat to hurt yourself?

Many overeaters have reported that they ate to punish themselves. It was an act of self-hatred. "I found myself eating ten Twix bars because I hated myself so much and it was a way to get back at myself," someone once shared. Food, especially in excessive quantities, can hurt us. No different than the person that cuts themselves, binging can be a way for overeaters to inflict pain upon themselves.

Are you punishing anyone in your life by overeating or staying overweight?

Another common theme is overeaters who eat to prove (usually to a parent or a spouse) that they can't be controlled. One man who had harbored a long-standing resentment towards his wife made sure that he didn't lose the weight she wanted him to lose-by eating an ice-cream sundae every night on his way home from work.

It is normal to resist being dominated by another person, but it doesn't really make sense for overeaters to put their own health in jeopardy out of spite.

Are you fed up with a society that expects you to be too thin and toned?

In a more global way, perhaps our overeating and obesity epidemic is a grand scale way of punishing a society that expects us to be perfect. Overeaters may get so down on themselves, believing that they'll never live up to the ideal, that they abandon all effort entirely.

If you are using food as a form of punishment, you may want to ask yourself why. Is it really getting you the result you want? Not just in terms of how your body looks and feels, but is it getting you the love and acceptance you want from a partner or parent or even yourself?

We all deserve to eat well, feel good and have fulfilling relationships. Overeating as a form of punishment, and/or reward, is not a recipe for a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Do you use food as a form of punishment?

Putting Ambivalence to Rest

Feb 01, 2011 - 4 comments
Tags:

End Emotional Eating

,

emotional eating

,

weight loss success

,

Lose weight



There was a statement that caught my attention in a recent article from the Washington Post's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column. The author of a new book "Fat Boy, Thin Man" (2010) told about his success in overcoming emotional eating. He said that once he became serious about breaking the emotional eating habit, he had to acknowledge that his own personal development was suspended when he started to use food for relief and reward. He decided that if he was to sustain his weight loss success, he would have to pay just as much attention to his personal development issues as he would have to do work on nutrition, new eating habits, and exercise.

In all of my experience with the Shrink Yourself program and with the patients that I treat I find this principle to be absolutely correct and essential. I see it every day.

Just yesterday I saw a patient who was suffering great anguish about her binges. At the same time she was so ambivalent about accepting help. I insisted we talk only about her ambivalence until we understood it. In an obvious way she was simply looking for magic, the old kind of magic that a child might look for by letting a parent know how much pain she was in and hoping that the parent could fix it. More accurately, the child believes the parent can fix anything, so she was really hoping that I would fix it.

Of course, I cannot. I can not tell her cravings to go away and I can not stand by her side every moment of the day to make sure that she eats the right things. Almost everyone who comes to the Shrink Yourself program is hoping for the magical fix. That's human nature. But that's really only a cover-up for something deeper. I saw it clearly in my patient. She insisted on the magical fix because she did not trust herself to follow through and do what she needs to do to understand and master the emotional eating habit. She was afraid of success. Her greatest fear was that she would lose weight and try again to have a fulfilling romantic relationship. Of course there's nothing wrong with that. But for her there was something wrong since she was predicting that every romantic relationship that was possible for her would end in failure. She was sure she would suffer such great hurt that it would take her months or years to recover. Her catastrophe image was in full bloom.

That's the personal development issue. She starting emotional eating because of her disappointments. She stopped trying and stopped learning. Now she has to pay attention to this piece of development. She has to learn how to have a successful romantic relationship. If she is not willing to try to do that, then her pain and loneliness and emotional hunger will not go away, and eating to soothe that pain and fill that gap will be something she has to live with.

I tell this story so that you may find your own story. Think about your ambivalence about success. Trace your ambivalence to your fear of success. Try to identify the personal development work you need to do but are afraid to do. If you have read and followed the material on this site you probably know what you need to do. If you can't remember it for very long or put it into practice then you can be sure that you have ambivalence about succeeding.

Ask yourself why you are afraid to succeed. Explore your ambivalence. Ambivalence will set off a binge. Ambivalence is the source of the self sabotage that makes you so angry at yourself. Ambivalence will stop you from even starting a program like this.

Are you ready to identify your personal development issue?

Successful New Year's Resolutions

Jan 16, 2011 - 2 comments
Tags:

emotional eating

,

binge eating

,

New Year's Resolutions

,

eating habits

,

Lose weight

,

compulsive eating

,

get rid of your cravings



We all make New Year's resolutions, and often these resolutions involve weight loss. However, many of us quickly lose traction before we achieve our objectives. In this week's blog I will answer the following 5 questions that will help you stay on track and reach your goals.

1. What are the psychological and emotional reasons behind these failures?

2. What is the biggest mistake people make when making a resolution?

3. How do you set reasonable, healthy expectations when you resolve to lose weight or shape up at this time of year or any other time of year?

4. What kind of support should you seek to help you achieve your goals?

5. What's the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of success before you make a healthy lifestyle change?


1. What are the psychological and emotional reasons behind these failures?

The biggest factor by far is emotional or stress eating. If you are in the habit of over using food as a form of self medication when you're in distress (overwhelmed, anxious, angry, bored or lonely,) then you are emotionally dependent on food to regulate your emotions. The instant you make your New Year's resolution you are in conflict with yourself. Your resolve may be absolutely serious and very real at the moment but when the stresses of everyday life throw you into a tailspin, even the greatest motivations will be sacrificed in favor of restoring your emotional equilibrium. You think forward with your head but respond in the moment to your feelings.

Think of it this way. For most parts of your life you can simply do what you intend to do. You brush your teeth, go to the store, keep your appointments. There is little or no distance between the mental intention and the act of doing. When you resolve to lose weight, you are making a simple clear healthy choice. There aren't any valid reasons not to do it, so you expect and hope that your intention will carry the day. It doesn't work that way. When you begin to put that choice into action you discover that changing an eating pattern is a psychological piece of work.

There is another, probably hidden, part of you that does not really want to go along with your New Years resolution. Because food is so deeply rooted in family dynamics, when you change your eating habits, you disturb these early associations. Since food is every one's first form of love and safety, you can see how familiar eating habits can provide comfort even when they may not be healthy.

What unhealthy eating habit did you "inherit" from childhood?

2. What is the biggest mistake people make when making a resolution?

The biggest mistake people make is ignoring the emotional eating factor. You hope to override it with good intentions and strong motivations and a new program that is guaranteed to work this time. You may be embarrassed about your weight or worried about your health or just want to look better or move with more grace. These are all strong powerful motivations that will drive you for a while. In the commonsense world, these motivations should prevail and take you all the way to your goal.

But there is this other force inside you that will throw up a smoke screen of a thousand excuses in order to justify going back to those eating patterns that make you feel safe, patterns that have probably existed for decades, and maybe since childhood.

When you make a New Year's resolution to lose weight, you are setting yourself up for failure if you don't recognize and take into account the fact that your overeating habits are the adult form of a child's security blanket. The security blanket made the child feel safe, but it didn't make the child safe. The same with food.

The safety and psychological hiding place that over eating or binging provides is only an ILLUSION. Once you really understand this, you can change your eating habits and reach your weight goals. This is why 95% of diets fail. If you don't deal with it, your chances of being successful for very long are slim.

How does food make you feel safe?

3. How do you set reasonable, healthy expectations when you resolve to lose weight or shape up at this time of year or any other time of year?

You have to pay attention to reality, which means you'll need to start eating healthy, making sure not to put yourself in the position of feeling deprived which only sets up for the next failure. Don't think of losing weight as a contest to win, because that means you are sure to lose. Think of it as a decision to be healthy, and that it is your responsibility to create a program that works for you, and that you are the expert. Don't set an artificial weight goal to meet some event deadline.

Remember you are losing weight for you because that is the healthy thing to do, not to please others or to impress others. If you keep all that in mind, you'll be happy with a modest weight gain in the beginning that is tied directly to conscious healthy decision making. Once that is established, the weight will come off much faster than you can imagine. And don't rely on exercise to lose weight. You can undo an hour of vigorous exercise in two minutes eating junk food. You should exercise to be healthy and enjoy your body. To lose weight, you need to focus more on what you put and let into your body... physically, emotionally and mentally.

What negative emotional or mental energy are you currently "binging" on?

4. What kind of support should you seek to help you achieve your goals?

Surround yourself with people who support healthy eating, who enjoy eating right, and are proud of making good food choices. A good weight loss partner who thinks the way you do can be very useful. The most important support people are those who respect your need to be the one who makes the decisions, including indulging on special occasions without feeling guilty or like a failure. Stay away from those who want to tell you what to do.

Do you have a family member, friend or co-worker that will listen compassionately to your "story" as you experience the challenges of changing your eating habits?

5. What's the most important thing you can do to improve your chances of success before you make a healthy lifestyle change?

The most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself. If you are too distraught, scared of attempting to change your eating habits, just wishing and hoping but secretly sure you are going to fail, don't do it now just because it is a new year. But if you are tired of yo-yo dieting, and tired of being obsessed and controlled by food, and are really ready to start a new part of your life by understanding rather than avoiding your emotional life, then make a serious commitment to a program that can guide you safely, step-by-step, to that goal. When you decide to make a commitment, then stick with it by seeing it as a psychological growth adventure which just happens to give you the added benefit of getting rid of your cravings and compulsive eating.

How would you like to grow personally as an adult?