Are you unhappy with how much you eat?
Do you find yourself eating for emotional reasons then regretting it later?
Do you eat in secret?
Do you feel “less than” people who eat “normal”?
Do you feel shame about your weight? Or your eating habits?
It can be deeply painful to be unable to control your eating — to feel unable or unwilling to stop overeating. It can be so easy to begin eating food to ease stress or numb your feelings. You don’t even realize you are doing it. For about 10 percent of the population, certain foods increase the good feeling neurotransmitters in the brain in a way that comforts and erases emotional pain.
It is my observation that this problem occurs more to people who are more emotionally sensitive, have big hearts, and have much compassion. This compassion is directed towards others but not yourself. Over time it becomes only too easy to develop a dependence on the comfort overeating can bring you. The problem is that the comfort is temporary, and never quite enough — so you eat more. The problem is that you can never eat enough to make the emotional pain go away and stay away. One bite is too much and 1000 bites are never enough.
The majority of people struggle with overeating and can benefit from eating disorder therapy.
Overeating is a common problem in the United States and the world. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009–2010) reports that more than two thirds of adults are overweight and that one third of adults are obese. One third of children and teens are overweight while one sixth of children and teens are obese.
The good news is that with the help of a compassionate, experienced therapist who is experienced in helping people with overeating, you can return to normal eating. No matter how many years you have struggled with this problem, you can learn skills to help you become free from food cravings, binging, obsessive thoughts about food and the dependence upon food. You can stop hating yourself, stop hurting your body, and change your relationship with food. You will be able to look in the mirror and smile.
I believe overeating is directly related to unresolved trauma, lack of close knit communities, and increasing daily stress. There is little training in how to parent effectively, communicate clearly, and have successful marriages. Trauma is often passed down through generations. Many Americans have ancestors who were immigrants who did not have the luxury to deal with their emotions of the tremendous hardships and losses involved in leaving their home countries. Many of us have inherited this unresolved emotional pain.
In addition, food corporations have become highly skilled at marketing unhealthy fast foods that are very convenient. These foods are not “real.” They are a combination of chemical additives, processed sugar and flavorings designed to increase cravings for these foods. An article in The Economist in 2012 reported that a research outfit called Euromonitor estimated that, from 2002 to 2012, the sale of processed foods in the world jumped 92%.
Food Addiction Treatment can free you from dependence on food.
My approach is to help my clients understand the dynamics of overeating, clear the painful emotions and memories of unresolved trauma, teach assertiveness skills, improve relationship skills, and educate on how to make time to eat healthy real food in busy lives. I help my clients appreciate what they have done well in their lives, and use these strengths to begin to build a new and healthy lifestyle.
I use cognitive therapy techniques to challenge rationalizations for overeating, help clients think more positively about themselves, and their life challenges. I also used mindful practices to help people relax and change their focus from food to other more meaningful activities.
I use EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and/or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, AKA psychological tapping) to clear out painful beliefs, thoughts, and memories. While this can be hard, it also is immensely rewarding. Like one client said after her second therapy session with me, “That was the best money I have ever spent.” It is typical using these techniques for my clients to find relief from painful memories that have haunted them for many years. With the clearing of this emotional pain, often comes less desire to overeat.
I have also studied the biochemistry of over eating and types of eating disorders. When I educate my clients how processed foods affect them in profoundly harmful emotional, spiritual and physical ways, these foods lose their attraction. Reasons and beliefs clients have used for years to overeat are looked at clearly until the client sees them for what they are, and lets go of them.
You still may have questions about how eating disorder counseling can help you stop overeating… You may be thinking…
“I know what I should eat but I can’t get myself to eat that way. How can a therapist help with this?”
Overeating is a complex problem that is usually too big for a person to stop on her own. Clients often have no idea how many emotions they have stuffed down with food for years, and even less of an idea how to manage these emotions that percolate up once they stop overeating. This is where therapy comes in. Sometimes people will also need the support of a self-help group such as Overeaters Anonymous, Food Addicts Anonymous, or online support groups to help them between therapy sessions.
For some people, overeating is much more than a bad habit. I help people develop plans to change their eating, one step at a time. I have recordings of people who have overcome compulsive overeating; I share these recordings with my clients to instruct and inspire them. I know support meetings for overeaters that are available every hour, every night, as well as recorded meetings that clients can listen to 24/7.
“What if I can’t handle all the feelings that come up when I stop overeating? What if I feel worse instead of better?”
Sometimes people will feel worse before they feel better, especially the first two weeks of eating healthy moderate meals when there is physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. You can remind yourself the withdrawal symptoms show the toxicity that processed foods cause and prove exactly why you want to free your body of them. You can remind yourself that if you don’t stop overeating, it will cause increasingly worse health problems, anxiety, depression, self hate, and pre-mature death.
It is very possible you can’t handle the feelings that surface when you stop overeating on your own. The gift in being unable to handle your feelings alone is that it can lead to learning to develop mutually satisfying relationships. You are not alone. But you have not learned to reach out for the help you need. In this age of new technology there is always support available to help you with your feelings. There are ways to reach out for help and actually help the person who you ask to help you. You will also learn to stop trying to control people, places, and things that are impossible to control. Getting therapy for your painful feelings helps them melt away or transforms them into positive feelings.
“What if I have no hope that I will be able to stop overeating?”
I know about the despair one can feel from trying to stop overeating with your own will power. I am a strong-willed person. For many years, every single day I thought I could use my will power to stop overeating. My intentions were good and especially strong in the morning and during the day. But I could not keep my good intentions through the evening and night. My will power helped me accomplish many things but it was weak when it came to controlling what I ate. I had to seek help from a therapist who specialized in treating trauma and participate in a 12-step group before I could eat in a sane controlled way. I have had clean abstinence since March 26, 1989.
If you feel there is no hope that you can eat in a sane way, you can learn on my hope that you can stop overeating until your hope is restored. In my 30 years as a therapist, I have helped many people reduce or stop overeating.
Successful therapy involves developing a trusting relationship with your therapist. This will take time, as all good relationships do. Recovering from overeating involves learning new tools and skills. It involves changing your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world you live in. It is possible. You could not do it in the past simply because you did not have enough help and support. Give yourself another chance. You deserve to be treated well. Feel free to call me at 586-799-2399 to schedule a free 20-minute phone, VSee video or in person consultation. Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wouldn’t it feel good to “eat to live rather than live to eat”?