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

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How to Stop Emotional Eating and Start Communicating

Jul 24, 2013 - 1 comments
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emotional eating

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Dr. Gould

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Roger Gould



We human beings are a social creature by nature. We interact with other people on many different levels: family; friend; wife; boss; co-worker; lover; enemy etc. And, human relationships being what they are, can often leave us in conflict with another person, which, depending on your personality, can send you into direct confrontation, or, as is more often the case, avoidance.

For emotional eaters, this kind of avoidance can forge a very unhealthy alliance with food. Put simply: the emotional eater will eat instead of confront (communicate). They will substitute the temporary "good feelings" that eating brings for the former relationships in their lives. It feels safer. There's no one watching. And there's no one to shout back at them.

The problem, of course, is that this kind of emotional eating will only continue to distance the emotional eater from the people in their lives. Yes, you may still find yourself in the same room with a person, but your desire (and ability) to confront them on the issues plaguing your relationship will only diminish as you choose to eat instead of communicate.

PEOPLE SKILLS

Another real problem that can arise from this kind of emotional eating is the erosion of people skills i.e. the normal day-to-day business of dealing with people. This is a natural skill that we develop as children, one that continues into adulthood. Withdrawing from relationships can weaken our people skills as we simply stop using them.

And over time, the blow to our own self-confidence and self-esteem can take its toll as we find ourselves shuddering at the thought of having to engage with others, be it in a group situation, or a one-on-one, and scrutinize ourselves (and our weight) with an ever-harsher tone.

VULNERABILITY

Perhaps what an emotional eater really hides from-by eating instead of communicating-is being vulnerable. When you confront another, you place yourself in a vulnerable position, a position in which you might lose the argument; you might look silly; you might even walk away feeling embarrassed or less than the other person.

The reality is that it takes courage to be vulnerable. Courage to be wrong. Courage to communicate.

It also takes courage to see yourself not as weak, or stupid, or less than, every time you've turned to emotional eating instead of facing another person. But simply as: being human. A work in progress. A person deserving of patience, and dignity and love-especially the love from your own self.

This is true courage. Wonderful courage. The kind of courage that sits within all of us, waiting to be tapped.

THE CHALLENGE

Relationships are challenging. There's simply no changing that. The good news is that what can be changed is you, and your ability in which to handle them. Turning to emotional eating instead of communicating is something we can start phasing out today. Yes, it requires effort and commitment and yes, courage, but it's a journey that leads to better health, better relationships and an even better you.

Now, that's something I think we can all agree upon.

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by Jaquta, Aug 30, 2013
I am finding that making good decisions is very important to stress management.  Communicating effectively and resolving issues early is very empowering.

I think that I am learning to stand up for myself better these days.  Saying no when I need too.  I am still having issues with managing my emotions when people violate my limits and boundaries.  I think that needs more self-reflection.

I saw my psychiatrist last week.  He said that when he worked in an inpatient unit that people would engage him in conversations about Coronation Street despite never watching it himself.  One person asked him why he just didn't say that he didn't watch it.  

I told the doctor that I didn't want to go to my brother's wedding.  He just said, don't go.  I gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that long-term repairing relationships was going to be more emotionally draining than going.  In the future I think that I need to be more honest and true to myself and I need to communicate that to others.

I think that current eating habits are being influenced more by fears of doing or not doing something.  Eating for health and survival can seem overwhelming when there is so much conflicting information out there.

In my cancer journey I have learned that meditation is a good tool to have on board before making dietary changes.  I think that both approaches have a philosophy of mindfulness awareness.

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