So you’ve read The China Study, Eat to Live, Super Immunity, and The Starch Solution, seen Forks Over Knives, and bought countless more gourmet cookbooks. You’ve figured out exactly how to shop for a whole foods plant-based diet on a budget and you’re on a roll. But then, you arrive at work one day to find out you didn’t get the raise you were expecting. So what do you do? You head down to the nearest cupcake shop and cram a few red velvets in your pie hole, or you head to a Mexican restaurant and devour a couple bowls of tortilla chips. You feel much better in the moment, but later on, you feel guilty, fat and horrible. Does this scenario sound even vaguely familiar? If so, you might be an emotional eater. The truth is, most of us are, including me.
Chef AJ invited me to hear psychiatrist and leading authority on adult psychological development Dr. Roger Gould speak about his book, “Shrink Yourself: Break Free From Emotional Eating Forever,” of which she had been giving rave reviews for some time. Any time I can acquire some knowledge to share with anyone who may be reading this, it’s more than worthwhile, so I headed over to hear what he had to say. Turns out the guy is pretty damn smart and has some really powerful insights on emotional eating. Here are few tidbits, but to get the rest, you’ll have to read his book (which I’m doing myself right now):
- He said that the starting point for most people who come into his office is ambivalence – they want to lose weight but “someone else” inside of them is making them eat. This duality is often manifested in yo-yo dieting (pretty much the calling card of the diet industry, those scam artists).
- This “other person” inside expresses the feeling that they are powerless to deal with whatever problem is at hand. Because of preconditioning, the easiest way for them to essentially shut off their mind is to eat, and sometimes a lot (obviously other people have different drugs of choice). Reminds me of Peter Griffin from Family Guy and his line “C’mon, let’s drink until we can’t feel feelings anymore.”
- Food is like a pacifier to a baby – the situation will be unbearable unless I have THIS. But what the heck does the baby know? The baby is always wrong!
- But what if this person isn’t powerless? What a horrendously terrible mistake they’re making!
- In the end, you’ve got to take control of your ambivalence to deal with whatever emotional issue is at the core of the whole situation. You simply can’t rely on willpower alone.
- Being addicted to food doesn’t mean you’re always addicted. It just means that your “food switch” has been turned into the ON position, i.e. “food = medication” as opposed to “food = food.”