What is an Emotional Eater? An Example
“An emotional eater sabotages their weight-loss efforts, because they “may turn to food for comfort — consciously or unconsciously, when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored.” Mayo Clinic
Sharon is a perfect example of an emotional eater:
Sharon was a middle-age woman, about 50lbs overweight, who came to see me, because she tried every diet imaginable and she never could lose the weight. She tried powders and shakes, Weight Watchers, Diet plans, groups and every new gimmick on the market. She exercised, went to the gym, invested in exercise equipment, but always received the same results.
When Sharon stuck to her diet, she’d lose weight, but it never lasted. She’d do well for a while, but then something would happen. She’d take a bite of ‘some bad food,’ or she’d sabotage her success by going out for dinner, and everything she’d worked for would start going down hill. Within a few weeks, Sharon not only gained what she lost, but added even more weight.
She felt defeated, demoralized, hopeless, ugly, out of control ~ ‘a loser and complete failure’.
She said, “ I just don’t get it! I changed my life completely. I got a divorce, sold a house, bought another, went back to school, got a great job that I never could have imagined ~ I changed every aspect of my life, but I just can’t lose this fat.
I hate this body! I am not this fat person. It’s not who I really am.”
This is a typical feeling of an ‘emotional eater’. Sharon is an intelligent woman who knows what she ‘should’ and ‘not eat’ . She goes on and off the diet roller-coaster, eats more than she should, or binges and then feels guilty about what she’s done ~ only to start over and do it again.
Sharon has triggers and she knows them well.
For Sharon, her cravings were after work; when she was alone, bored or frustrated. Travelling home at the end of the day was a major trigger for her. She ate a good breakfast, chose healthy salads from the company cafeteria, and avoided snacks from the vending machines. But the drive home from work was her downfall.
She was hungry, tired and stressed from the day. There were fast food restaurants along her route and they were tempting. Three hungry adolescents were waiting at home when she’d arrived, and she had to decide what to feed them. Should she make dinner, or bring take out? She knew what she ‘should’ do. But what she chose to do at that moment was a totally other thing. The stress of the workday transferred into the stress of her home life. Sharon was under pressure and needed relief.
And when Sharon needed relief, she consoled herself with unhealthy food.
Sharon is a perfect example of an emotional eater ~ and if you’re like her, no diet plan will help for the long haul.
An emotional eater must change the way they’re thinking and reacting to food.
I tell my clients that food is ‘just food’, but the relationship that they have with it is so much more than that.
Eating provides a temporary escape from:
Unhealthy food can be used as a reward, entertainment and any number of emotions.
However, once you isolate your own triggers, learn new thinking patterns and behaviors, you won’t feel the need to escape any pressure, and “food” will become what it is ~ “just food”.
When Sharon ‘got it’, she stopped counting calories; going on a scale to see how much weight she lost or gained. She learned to understand and appreciate herself. Sharon not only handled her feelings, but she began to empower herself in many areas of her life.
In the process, Sharon gained a new respect for herself. She took care of herself, as well as her family, her job and her responsibilities. And as she evolved, not only her body, but also her outlook on life began to change as well.
Like most emotional eaters, Sharon was ‘in awe’ of the results she was achieving. For the first time, since she was a teenager, she was ‘not dieting’. She was not counting calories, going on a scale or obsessing about weight ~ and the excess pounds kept going down.
If you’re an emotional eater, this example is not unusual.
If you have a problem with emotional eating, it’s not the diet that’s the problem. You have to change your thinking and your relationship with food.
When you change your thinking, you change your behavior and when you change your behavior, you see the results.
Today Sharon no longer feels ‘defeated, demoralized, hopeless, ugly and out of control.’ She’s happy with the person she has become. Now, she feels pride when she reflects our first meeting. She has changed ‘every aspect of my life’, and now she includes loosing weight!”
What others say:
“You have made a huge difference in my life. I only wish I would have found you sooner.” J.B. Vancouver BC.
‘I can’t believe that after our first conversation, I feel better already. Can’t wait for our next call.” E.H. Sydney Au.