Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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Response to all the comments about emotional eating

May 30, 2008 - 18 comments

This is a comment for everyone who has responded to this last  blog entry.  Thank you for taking the time to ask your questions and describe your situation.  There are some common themes here.  Most of you describe and understand your emotional eating patterns quite well, including the conflict between your.desire and need to be at a healthy weight and your desire and need to continue eating in the way that you have been as a kind of compulsion and self-medication.  You each ask, in your own way, what can possibly help?  You've tried so many things that don't work for very long and even when they do you go back to the old ways when life throws you a curve.  One of you even mentioned that being married has its own stresses and can be a very important cause of weight gain.  Others mentioned medication which causes weight gain and the changing metabolism around the time of menopause.

This is all true.  These are the kinds of things that trigger weight gain.  But what stops you from mastering these things and being able to control your weight despite these things is the fact that you feel defeated and no longer believe you can help yourself or that you can be helped by anybody else.  When that happens, you retreat to the familiar remedy which doesn't work.  You start looking at and asking me what you should eat because you stop thinking about Why you're eating.  Although nutritional information is important and contributes to your weight control success, it's not the key to controlling your weight.  The key to controlling your weight is learning a new way to control your emotions, and especially the emotions that occur during transitions in your life and when you are under a great deal of stress.  That is your challenge.

You simply cannot learn how to do that overnight.  Even a good therapist may not be able to help you do that because most do not understand the many layers of emotional eating conflict because that is not their specialty.  You have to sort this out piece by piece and step by step and that is why I created the shrinkyourself program and wrote the shrinkyourself book.  It is a process in which you can reach the goal but you will have to put in effort and there are times when you will have to struggle.  At the end it is worth it.  Even if you have diabetes now, the loss of weight can actually make the diabetes go away or diminish the need for  medication.

I want to  leave you with a clear understanding that despite your specific situation you all share the same struggle, and that is to learn how to think and understand yourself better so you don't have to use food to shut off your mind.  It can be done, but it is a process.  It's not what you eat but why you eat.  Once you have become an emotional eater, there is only one way to lose weight and keep it off, and that is to break that very destructive eating habit.

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by JSGeare, May 31, 2008
You said: "...retreat to the familiar remedy which doesn't work."

How true that is -not only with eating -but EVERYTHING.

The problem, of course, is that we reach for a "familiar remedy" because it either does SEEM to work at some psychological level -or it DID work at some point in the past. But I can only tighten down the leaky faucet so many times -at some point, it must be actually repaired or changed out.

The fix -for eating and many other disorders that exist in our way of thinking? Again, just as you said:

"learn how to think and understand yourself better..."

So true, so very simple in concept, and so very difficult to actually DO.

Many times, therapy can be helpful in getting to that thought process and self-understanding; either by trying on the "fit" of new behaviors until they become more "automatic" or by an investigation into why we are the way we are, or some combination of both and other therapies. One HUGE support for the process is the company of the good people on the forum who walk in our shoes. It works because there is a population of real people to whom we need not explain everything -they know and they experience what we know and experience. And their collective wisdom and compassion can help move us along.

Whether by a book or the personal direction of a qualified and skilled therapist, the journey into self study and understanding not only delivers a benefit in terms of the specific problem which motivates us to act, but many other benefits that come of new thinking and understanding; in the end, I think, we become our own best therapist.

Do you -does anyone- want to stop eating so as to lose weight? No, you don't. What you want is what we all want -to be happy, fulfilled and satisfied with our lives or moving in that direction under our own speed and at our own direction. When the cessation of a self-defeating behavior comes about as the consequence of a newly learned and integrated behavior or way of thinking, we know that we have changed because we FEEL better.

Thank you, Dr. Gould, for the clear outline of what must happen. If you book is a success, it will be so as it is reflected in the lives that are changed for the better because of it.

Avatar universal
by jonnyboy1, Jun 01, 2008

I have a very small white, slightly raised spot under my armpit.  I should stress that it is very small and my doctor thinks it may be a fat deposit.

I do triathalons so am fairly fit and in my late twenties (if this is of any relevance).  I would be super grateful for a second opinion on this tiny white spot.  I've had it for about a month and it is painless and not tender to touch.

Just wanted to see if you anyone would possibly be able to shed any light on this.

Best regards,

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by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank, Jun 02, 2008

Only a doctor who actually sees and feels this can make a diagnosis. If in doubt, ask for a second consultation.

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by lilplum, Jun 03, 2008
Dear Dr. Gould,
I have a similar white spot on my throat (on the outside).  It's in a perfect circle......when it first happened I was in Hawaii, and I thought I was bite by something.  There used to be a tiny, TINY little red spot right in the middle of this white circle.  The red spot isn't there anymore.  But the white circle is.  I DID show this to my doctor because it was one of the very wierd things that happened to me on this trip.  It was ini 2005 and this was the trip where after 3 days without any known reason, upon waking up I could barely stand up, my feet and ankles were so swollen....I had a brownish/red rash on both legs from the knees down.  And to this day they are unable to figure out what is wrong with me.  They put me thru 2 cardiac workups checking for congestive heart failure.  I didn't have that.  They checked me for LUPUS, one doctor thinks I have it due to the very high results of a double stranded dna test.  It came back at 169 and 39 was the norm!  After searching further into this Lupus "finding" they said it all was normal and I didn't have lupus.  I think I've had every test known to man.  I would give just about anything to get this fluid retention off of me.  When I saw my doctor the day after we returned I was put on diuretics and the entire 15lbs came right off.....for a week......then it returned and then some!!  I am a thin woman..even with this fluid and my doctors aren't too concerned anymore because they think I look just fine weight wise!  I have to say that some of the swelling has gone away...but my legs from the knees down continue to swell.  IF you didn't know me you wouldn't notice it, but those that know me are concerned.  I would be very interested to find out what ends up happening with this "white spot" under your armpit.  IF Dr. Gould has any suggestions for me regarding other tests that could be run to help me I'd be SO grateful!!!  

Avatar universal
by hey3, Jun 03, 2008
Dr. Gould,
I have started reading Shrink Yourself for the second time now. I have been in nursing school for the past 2 years and can't seem to finish it. So far so good. I find it hard to figure out what triggers my eating. I am a grazer. I don't overeat at any one time. I gained about 15 pounds during school which is much less than about 75% of my class gaining 20 or more pounds. Only a few lost weight. I have also had lab test run for autoimmune diseases. Just the simple standard ones. All negative. I also had a partial hyst the week after graduating from college. Just started exercising again after a busy 3 months and 3 weeks post op recovery. I know that I can pull the weight off. It just seems like a daunting task. I have been in therapy off and on for 8 years for dysthymia and GAD. So you can imagine the great feeling I had when I graduated from college. But now I am flat and have been cooped up for weeks and now have the worry of finding a job, passing boards ect. I am trying to exercise and keep busy cleaning to cope with the above and NOT eat. Very difficult. The book has been great so far.

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by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank, Jun 03, 2008
hey3....I am glad the book is helping so far, but  the online program actually helps you go through the exercises and get a very experience and insight into your eating patterns, and having some time to work on that now makes it a good time to start...look into it...it will put you in control.

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by merryBe, Jun 03, 2008
Dr. Gould,

I have had a thyroid and pituitary disorder for 30 years. For this reason I limit myself to 2 meals a day.

Recently, however, I was put on Remeron because my chemo therapy was not allowing me to rest. (3 days once, and 4 days once, with NO sleep).

Since going on the remeron I have become extremely hungry, even famished at night an unable to sleep unless I do eat a third meal.
Since I never had this problem before, and since this hunger is accompanied by very real and violent stomach growlings, I do not believe it to be emotional.
Aren't tetracyclics known for producing hunger in the literature?
Wouldn't it be good to give hints for how to cope with this?

for instance, I keep water at my beside, and stocked up on splenda Jello....ergo I can eat 3 servings, and still only consume 15 calories. At least then, my stomach calms down enough and feels full enough so I can get to sleep.

I do beleive some eating is emotional, but there are always drugs that can induce strong hunger. One example would be marijuana, known for "the munchies".
I don't use that drug, but this remeron has given me the worst case of intense appetite I've ever experienced.
mary B

Avatar universal
by JADIE312, Jun 05, 2008
hello   iam new to all this
today i was looking up std and tests and i found this program iam very happy that you have this but iam hoping that it will help me!  i have posted a question but no one has answered it.
so iam hoping that you can,     when i have sex i feel this burning pain  it only occurs when having sex or when something goes into the vagina.  does this mean i have an std or and sti?

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by smittygirl, Jun 07, 2008
Go to the doctor!  

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by Heather3418, Jun 07, 2008

I cannot figure out why you would post a question such as yours to the doctor in this forum, when the doctor is speaking of "emotional eating."  This question does belong in the Sexual Health Forum.  Sometimes it can take a while to get an answer there, but I am sure that someone will come along to give you some advice.  The best advice you have received so far, is from 'Smittygirl.'  Go see a doctor.  

I won't give you the speech that you are too young to be having sex (since I know all about teen years and raging hormones)  You are also too young to be sticking objects into your vagina.  The burning pain may be from having intercourse too frequently and may be caused by not keeping clean after having intercourse.  It could also be from the possibly unclean "object" you have been putting in your vagina.  You may have a bladder infection from this activity.

If you are old enough to spell the word 'vagina,' you're old enough to be scheduling appointments with a gynecologist for regular pap smears and follow-ups, especially since you are sexually active at this age.  Please take it from someone who became pregnant at age 16, PROTECT yourself.  Pregnancy AND STD's can happen with just ONE exposure and believe me, pregnancy at your age will literally change your entire life.

This is from a lady that is now 54 years old who DID become pregnant with my first exposure to intercourse.  Why not wait until you are older, when you really understand that intercourse, LOVE and marriage, are the best times to be having sex?  Especially with someone that doesn't give you the fears of STD's.

I was not trying to be mean to you in my post Jadie.  I DO care and am concerned.  I really WAS your age once and pregnancy changed my whole life.  I love my son, but age 16 was too young to give up all the fun I could have had as a growing teenager.  I missed out on alot, when I took on the responsibility of raising a child.  Are you ready for a crying baby at 3 am?  Not one night, but every night?

Please be careful and act responsibly.  



Avatar universal
by 1vision, Jun 07, 2008
I need advice.
I am a Professional and do not want to weigh 200 pounds and lose my memory and my entire life just because I need help.
I have been on EVERY type of antipsychotic and nothing helps me.
My husband doesn't want me on anything because he says I turned into a Zombie.
We have worked very hard to get past all this and are managing however due to recent stress I am getting a little overly paranoid -- word I use here because I am not sure what to call it.

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by smittygirl, Jun 07, 2008
Good for you Heather!   Well said.  Hope all is well with you these days.  


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by Heather3418, Jun 08, 2008
Dr. Gould,

You have my most sincere apologies for posting to Jadie in your blog.  I found no way to write you through PM to ask you to please delete my post.  I will write Jadie through PM.  This post doesn't not belong on your professional post.  I DO apologize.

Very Sincerely,

Avatar universal
by amtlmn, Jun 11, 2008
Hi Heather,

Personally I think Miss Jadie needed a good talking to like you gave her. She needs someone to take her by the ear and pull her away from that lifestyle. You might be the only one who has ever come close to that. Good grief.


Avatar universal
by theone112, Jun 12, 2008
thanks for that...i appreciated it alot!

Avatar universal
by b24, Jun 15, 2008
The brain has centers for appetite and satiety that are not in the cortex at all, so how one can suppose a thought will change all of this is difficult for one to fathom.
If medication interferes with body processes and metabolism no amount of will power or anything like that will change the realities.
If you do not eat, you do not intake fuel and required things and malnutrition will result along with a body that cannot grow, repair or cope properly.
Thus a vicious cycle is set up and suddenly there is no solution on the face of the earth that will work.
Healthy living is paramount.  If something causes psychic distress it is a signal to remedy or adapt.  You need to change something and it is the brain signaling the fact.  If it is ignored the issue will not disappear but illnesses will present.  Adaptation and good communication are the tools of a healhty person.  Look for sensible solutions and things that can be addressed.
If chubby get out and do something and that alone provides exercise and a different focus.  Practice healthy living that is intelligent and not a simple fix or remedy that does not make logical sense.
Other things might be endocrine or other issues and need to be addressed.
I do not approve of happy pills if one can change activities and change the environment in a positive manner.  You need to think and make positive choices that contemplate consequences.  Do get out and live and by that one does not need ot spend money.  You need to join the human race and interact.  Do not just drop everything but look for avenues that fit the situation and resources.  It certainly makes things easier once commenced and gradually outlook will alter to reflect the choices.

Avatar universal
by italy2006, Jul 05, 2008
I was on here looking for something on MRSA, which I cannot locate and stumbled across this. I think I may go ouit and try your book Dr. Gould, as I am an emotional eater, which is an understatement. I eat when I feel good, which is not often, eat when I get upset, angry, depressed. I think I use food as a drug for every emotion. I am currently taking an antidepressent, P.R.N. stress medicine and sleep medicine. I see my Psychiatrist every 3 months and my Psychologist avery 1 to 2 weeks. My Psychologist is who gets me through the rough times, as I get emotionally suicidal, mainly due to stress, chronic pain and family situations. Needless to say, I am severly overweight and hate it. I grew up under weight and could not gain a pound for the life of me, now can't seem to loose a lb for the life of me. IT *****

Avatar universal
by karenirine, Aug 25, 2008
hi, I have a 16 year old daughter that have been though alot in the last 2 years and I am worried about her I don't know weather to call it a eating disorder or what she will eat but very little and there is alot of food that she will not eat i am trying to come up with a plan for her but not sure how. She says after taking about 3 bites that she is full no matter what it is.She will not eat vegs I have tried them different ways to try to get her to eat and even tryed her on vitamins she will not take them.I don't know what to do for her I do have her drinking ensure is this the best for her..  thank you
     karen fowler  

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