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Are you an emotional eater?

Everyone deals with emotions differently, whether or not they have a problem with food. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, some people prefer to ground themselves in their feelings in order to make their perceptions and decisions in the world. Others are "thinking" types, who prefer to detach from their emotions and approach life on a more intellectual basis.
People who struggle with food and body/weight issues don't just detach from emotions, they run from them. Yet they don't particularly want to approach their problems from a thinking place, either. They simply cannot cope with emotional situations.
Whether it's a high stress situation such as dealing with trauma or abuse (anger, fear, etc.) a seemingly harmless experience such as a day off (boredom, indecision, etc.), or "positive" stress such as going to a party or winning a contest (excitement, adrenalin, etc.), they do not or cannot tolerate their feelings.
This repeated cycle leaves them cut off from a full living experience. They're usually well aware of this, promising themselves (and sometimes others) that as soon as they're thin (or thinner), they'll start to live.
All of this is why we sometimes say that emotional eating is not about the food. Yet, when it comes to food addiction, it IS about the food. For food addicts—who also may be emotional eaters—there is a chemical reaction to specific foods and/or an extreme physical craving for those foods.
These are complex issues and that's why here at the White Picket Fence Counseling Center we are each specially trained to deliver highly individualized treatment geared to your specific problem. And one that takes into account your emotional style.
People struggling with eating disorders need more than just the trite answers of "just eat less," "push yourself away from the table" or "just say no!"
Recovery from emotional eating requires both structure and support. Now by structure, we do not mean rigidity. Food plans, daily schedules and group meetings are all used as tools, but what's most important is that those tools are meeting your needs and fit with where you're at today.
And by support, we do not mean instructions. In fact, a recent article in the NY Times points out that doctors who just hand out instructions (sometimes paired with stern judgment) have little impact on their patients' success. However, doctors who work to motivate their patient to take charge of their own recovery make a real difference.
For emotional eaters who are considering bariatric surgery, take note. While this might seem like a quick and viable solution, surgery cannot remove emotional eating. Maintaining the weight loss will be very challenging, if not impossible, if you have not addressed that. Whatever got you to that weight is still with you.
Recovery from emotional overeating is not easy, and there truly is no quick fix. But if you start where you are, stay gentle with yourself, and enlist the right kind of support, you can experience the freedom of recovery.
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