Cracking the Code of Emotional Eating
For the past three years I’ve been privileged to work with hundreds of clients with binge eating disorder. (B.E.D.) To best serve them, I’ve read dozens of books about weight loss and eating disorders, and gone to professional seminars by trained clinicians. The insights offered here aren’t based on that kind of research, but on my personal observations made through one-on-one encounters with clients who overeat.
My typical client is middle-aged, with a BMI over 40 (obese). They have, or had, a stable career and family. Many have struggled with being overweight since childhood, going on and off every new diet and weight loss program available. By the time they get to me, their weight has yo-yo’d up and down, sometimes by as much as 100 pounds. This, despite the fact that some have had bariatric surgery which, at one point, helped them lose the extra pounds.
My clients are intelligent—diet savvy, if you will. Most of them could give solid advice to someone else on how to lose weight. They understand calories and carbs and metabolism. I’ve learned a lot from them. They all have two things in common:
· All of them carry weight-shame.
· All of them want to LOSE WEIGHT AND KEEP IT OFF.
As I’ve listened to people’s stories, become familiar with their histories and helped them work to resolve their current struggles with food, I’ve looked for patterns, some kind of common thread that has gotten them to this point. In short, I’ve tried to crack the code on emotional eating. I wanted to find out:
· How does emotional eating get started?
· What keeps it going despite painful social and physical consequences?
· Why can it be controlled temporarily but not permanently?
· And why are so many of my obese clients such nice people?
It’s been my mission to answer these questions. I know as Americans we live in a culture that promotes overeating and I could say a lot about the external causes that set people up for weight re-gain. (Like all the commercials for food that have thin people ordering super-sized meals. Yeah, right.) But this is about the psychological reasons that drive it.
I’ll going to tell you what I’ve found to be a common pattern among those who regain their weight. To explain the etiology, I’ve made up a story. I’ll call it the story of little Sally. (There is no such person and yet, I’ve met hundreds of little Sallys.) Maybe if you’re overweight, parts of this story will resonate with you.
To read How Little Sally Became Big Sally, tune in to my next blog, Or better, yet, just subscribe, and you won’t miss a thing!
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