Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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How Your Feelings Keep You Fat

May 21, 2014 - 0 comments

emotional eating



What is it about emotions that triggers overeating? Would it not be simpler, for instance, to simply face your anger or rejection and process it, rather than stuff it down with food?

The first thing to realize is that you are indeed interrupting your negative emotions instead of allowing them to flow to their natural outcome. And once you understand why you do this, you'll be in a position to take a step back and make this critical decision:

Does it make more sense for me to DEAL with these negative feelings right now, or to EAT?

At the moment, you likely don't have a say in the matter. Turning to food has been your coping mechanism for long enough that it's become automatic. And that's okay.

Feeling Phobia

Most people don't like experiencing negative emotions. But emotional eaters have an almost allergic reaction to them. It's what I call the Feeling Phobia. That's a debilitating urge to avoid negative emotions at any cost due to the fear of what those feelings might really mean and where they might lead you.

The belief that you cannot handle your feelings because of how long you've been holding them in is very normal and nothing to beat yourself up about. But let me be clear: Your feelings are the doorway you will need to pass through in order to control your emotional eating. You will, at some point, have to climb the the high-dive and take that leap of faith.

In emotional eating terms that means to stop automatically eating when negative feelings arise so that you may use your natural intelligence instead.

The Shrink Yourself program can be thought of as your guide on this journey. Fear and doubt are much easier to handle when you are expertly guided each step of the way. And, like the high-dive, once you look back at what once seemed insurmountable, it doesn't seem so scary anymore.

I'm Not Worthy

Another challenge facing emotional eaters in the area of feelings is the tendency to misinterpret them in a way that confirms you're not as worthy as you'd like to be. Something as simple as an empty email inbox or answering machine can mean nobody is thinking or caring about you.

This can also extend to external events and the actions of others, all of which make you believe (incorrectly) that you're more powerless than you actually are, and turn up the volume on what are otherwise simple emotions.

In a nutshell: It's not the feelings themselves that are the problem; it's the story you tell yourself about them, the interpretation of what those feelings mean, that gets you into trouble. These are Catastrophic Predictions. Doomsday thoughts that are simply not factual and only reflect the worst that your brain can imagine.

e.g. Instead of feeling loneliness, you see yourself as a seventy-year-old spinster with sixteen cats. Or, instead of dealing with simple anger, you're afraid you'll hurt someone.

These catastrophic predictions are a key element in the emotional eating formula which goes something like this:

Something happens...you make a misinterpretation, perhaps a catastrophe prediction, and you arrive at a powerlessness conclusion...you believe on some level that eating is the only option that you have to make yourself feel better...and so you eat.


In my next post, I'll be showing you how to start coping with your feelings, starting with these key areas:

. Identifying your feeling phobia.
. Understanding what you make your feelings mean.
. Understanding how you misinterpret things.
. Understanding how you form catastrophe predictions.
. Identifying what your powerlessness conclusions are.

I hope you'll join me.

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