May 21, 2008
3 Reasons You Won’t Lose Weight
Today we are going to discuss the three reasons you won't lose weight: an overpowering urge to binge, an intense hunger when you know the hunger is not for food, and a mind filled with thoughts about food or worries about weight.
The good news: once you learn to control the emotional eating that causes these three obstacles... well, then you can take off the weight -- and keep it off -- for good.
Last week, in the first of this series about emotional eating, I left you with the dilemma of the divided self. One part of you wants to control your weight by eating in a healthy way while the other part of you wants to hold onto food as a form of self medication. You have to resolve this dilemma before you can control your weight.
Why you eat too much
If you were in treatment with me we would have a conversation about this. I would ask you to explore why you eat too much by observing when you do that. I would have you ask yourself is it because you are bored, or frustrated, or depressed, or anxious, or is it because you are around your family or some other relationship and don't know how to handle your emotions?
But you are not my office and you do not need to be there in order to have a conversation with yourself about these critical issues. With some help you can do it yourself.
To be more accurate you need to have a conversation with many of the selves within you but for our purposes today let's just consider that you have two people inside the same skull. Both skull mates are competing to control how much your hand puts into your mouth.
If these two roommates don't talk to each other they will just alternate in control and you will be a yo-yo dieter. You will diet and lose weight and then your other self will take over and you will gain all the pounds back plus about 10%. You may do this for decades with only fat and frustration as your reward for the thousands of days of dieting deprivation. Wouldn't you be better off talking to your skull mate?
Stop making you binge
Of course you would... but you'll have to learn how to do that. You can't simply tell your skull mate to stop making you binge or eat too much. That part of you does not like to be told what to do and has no interest in giving up food as an emotional relief. That part of you has a mind of its own.
Here is something you should know about your skull mate. He or she won't talk to you in words at the beginning so you have to understand how he or she expresses herself. There are three signature expressions of emotional eating.
The first, is the overpowering urge to binge. It is a sure sign that you want to shut off your mind with food.
The second is an intense hunger when you know the hunger is not for food (you may have just finished a meal and are already physically full). This is a sure sign that you are feeling empty about something and are “emotionally” hungry.
The third is having a mind filled with thoughts about food or worries about weight. These are space occupying mental entities that distract you from thinking about what is really bothering you in life. These are boring repetitive thoughts that weigh down your mind.
This is the knowledge you need to start your conversation with yourself. Every time you feel or think one of these three ways, the other part of you is talking and taking over. Your first task is to observe this and try to understand what is going on within you. Even though you will need more tools to come to a full understanding, you can begin with this knowledge.
In the next part of this series I'll describe a technique you can use to go the next step in your conversation with yourself.
Dr. Roger Gould is one of the world's leading authorities on emotional eating and adult development. The board-certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author, has pioneered the use of online therapy sessions focusing on weight loss and other issues. Dr. Gould is the founder of Shrink Yourself, a comprehensive program focused on emotional eating.
For more info and a FREE session, visit ShrinkYourself.com.