Is there a therapy specific to emotional eating?
I don’t know if anyone specializes in therapy for emotional eating (EM) and I don’t know if anyone really can.
If there was a therapy for it then it would be something like 5% EM tips and suggestions and then 95% normal therapy. An emotional eating issue is mainly an emotional issue and requires a regular therapist.
Sure some therapists might be a bit more knowledgeable about EM and all the triggers and such and their suggestions may be useful. But unless they are also competent therapists in general you’re not going to get much help.
It may even be counter productive and a waste of time. I’ve heard some people talk about the emotional eating tips they’ve gotten (read that link to see what I’m talking about) and almost all of them were ineffective long term.
What I’m ultimately saying is that it’s best to look for a good therapist rather than a therapist who specializes in EM.
Stopping the Wind
The reason why EM strategies are not that helpful is because they rely on conscious will to try to control or direct your eating behavior daily. That can work for awhile but in the end you’ll revert back to your old ways.
In other words your EM issue is not a right-brain, logical, cognitive issue. It’s an unconscious, lizard-brain, emotional one and that part of you has more control than you realize.
There was a book out not too long ago by the author Haidt on the subject of happiness where he talked about how our brains were wired. He compared our brain to the image of, “an elephant with someone riding it.” The person riding it (us) is our conscious, thinking brain.
The elephant is our emotional brain. We can tell it where to go and it listens from time to time but whenever it decides to do it’s own thing there’s nothing we can do to stop it. We are powerless to it’s sheer strength.
That’s how many people feel when they eat emotionally. They know it’s not good for them, they read the literature and listen to their doctors, they want to stop and they try but ultimately fail in the end.
They fail because it’s impossible to stop an elephant when it wants to do it’s own thing. Then we beat ourselves up for not doing better and get down on ourselves and feel like our situation is hopeless.
We then try to get help, read some tips, go to a therapist for EM and wonder why focusing on the rider isn’t doing much to change us.
Taming the Elephant
What is the elephant? It’s our latent emotions of anxiety and frustration. The twin duo who run our lives in the background. If they are dysregulated then they make us do things we don’t want to do, with or without our consent.
If they are regulated then we feel the elephant works for us rather than the other way around. So the question becomes how do we regulate our emotions? How do we tame the elephant? Doing just that is how we focus on the root cause of our EM and will have the biggest impact on our behavior around food, more so than using tips and suggestions.
[It is important to lose weight in the meantime so check out the main page of this website on how to do that.]
Getting our emotions under control requires a few things from us:
– A 5 year commitment … at least. Emotional change is slow and progress is made in increments. Accept and think about it that way and your ride will be much smoother. Go for small, consistent efforts each day.
– Therapy of some kind with someone who knows what they are doing. It’s hard to see ourselves properly so we need another trained individual who can act as a polished mirror to reflect back what they see in us as accurately as they can – the good, bad and ugly (very important for growth to occur.)
– Honest Relationships, especially with your parents. This is extremely important. The ability to be open and honest about yourself and how you feel, what your opinions are etc., is a requirement to psychological health and to “tame the elephant.”
What you are doing in essence is creating a relationship with the elephant (your emotions) through other people – therapist, family, friends. Creating a relationship with it as opposed to trying to control it is a much healthier way to get what you want and what it wants.
BTW, that works with people too. It works with your emotional eating and with most other problems you have in life.
It’s worth the investment.
THE EATING LOVE GUIDE (FREE)
The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.