Do you feel stressed out and turn to food for comfort, calming or entertainment?
Do you wish your relationships were more fulfilling?
Most of all, do you feel like your relationship with food and your body take up way too much of your time?
When you feel this way and you have tried diets, going to the gym, personal trainers, fitness classes, bariatric surgery, the list can go on and on, but you still focus on food, hate your body, and endlessly criticize yourself, it is emotional torture. Often you may find yourself waiting for something to get better or putting “it” off until tomorrow—one more day of emotional eating, one last episode of binge eating tonight. When you wake in the morning you feel the “binge or carb hangover” and begin the process of shaming yourself all over again and it is hard to stay motivated to change.
You may also have thoughts of situations that replay over and over in your mind. Something may spark a memory of a painful event and you are right back there, as if the person was speaking in the present. These intrusive memories carry feelings that, if left un-resolved, can lead to anxiety, depression and worry and result in emotional eating and binges.
When anxiety and depression get the best of you…
Sometimes the uncomfortable feelings are turned inward. You may feel like there is, “something wrong with you.” Maybe you use emotional eating to try and soothe yourself or watch too much TV as a way to numb out or spend lots of time at the gym exercising to try and run away. Shutting out the world, the thoughts, and the feelings is a temporary mini-solution. It may help for a while, but the pain will return, often sweeping you up in a tidal wave of emotion, confusion and despair and result in even more focus on food and body hate and shame.
Why we turn to emotional eating…
We try to manage the feelings in all sorts of ways—some are helpful and some are painful like emotional and disordered eating. The way to move through emotional eating is to walk through the emotion, not around it with food. In our therapy work we address the pain in a ways that are helpful. We will work to develop new solutions and perhaps revisit old ones that have worked in the past. We will also address the old patterns or habits and create new supportive, health promoting habits that feel better.
Benefits of calming anxiety…
Learning to calm anxiety is like opening the door to a whole new world. Feeling anxious is very draining. It takes a lot of energy. Jumping at the thoughts that swim around in your head, feeling like something bad is going to happen at any moment, fearing life. When you feel anxious it is often because you feel like you can control the events in your life. Choices seem few and far between. Emotional eating helps because when we are in this situation we usually go for foods that calm. We gravitate toward foods that stimulate the production of neurotransmitters which help to calm anxiety. Learning how to manage anxiety and address the feelings when they become overwhelming means that you do not have to use food to calm yourself down anymore.
The other side of anxiety is that there is always an option to relieve the fear. In therapy we will talk about the types of things you find calming, I will offer suggestions too and we will make a plan. We will change the plan as needed. I like to think of this process as doing an experiment; we see what works, make adjustments, and keep working until you have mastery in working with anxiety.
Benefits of resolving depression…
Depression; the word conjures up all sorts of images of sadness, loneliness, and disconnection. You may feel overwhelmingly drained. It is hard to get things done and you may be tired a lot. Depression can have physical effects such as, poor sleep, aches and pains, worsening of other symptoms, and a heighten focus on what is just not going well. This is when body hate is at a peek. Self-criticism and hopelessness leads to even more emotional and binge eating. Maybe you go through periods of not eating and hunger comes roaring back, or you eat constantly to at least feel some pleasure in the taste of food.
The statistics support the fact that most people will experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. The statistics also support that most people will not seek help. This is staggering, because psychotherapy is the frontline treatment for depression and eating disorders and the majority of people who get help vastly improve their health and happiness. So, what does therapy have to offer? In our therapy we will focus on not only the immediate troubles of emotional and disordered eating, anxiety, and depression, we will also focus on lifelong skills that you can apply to any difficult situation. Much in the same way that working through anxiety can help you to learn about yourself and what you need to take care of yourself, working through depression can provide the same benefit.