It's Not About the Food: Overeating, Addictions, and Emotions

man eating fast food
Image by Gerd Altmann 


Narrated by Marie T. Russell

Watch video version here

What if I told you a new diet called the "It's Not About the Food" is gaining popularity and causing significant numbers of people to shed pounds along with old habits and excess baggage? I bet you’d at least give it a second glance, and perhaps even investigate further.

Getting control over your eating is not rocket science. It’s not about counting carbs, reducing calories, eating celery, or drinking a gallon of water. Regular overeating, and therefore weight gain, is all about not dealing with your emotions, most especially fear. We’re looking for comfort and to fill what I call our “black hole of unworthiness.”

Usually underneath being overweight is a food addiction. Our addictive behavior started when we needed a way to comfort ourselves because we were feeling a ton of emotions and didn’t know how to handle what was going on.

Unexpressed sadness, anger, and fear keep us stuck in destructive habits and keep waistlines expanding. We want to fill our emptiness or loneliness, mask our anger, or appease our fear. We're not present, and we're not relaxed. So instead of speaking up, we head to the candy stash. If a partner says something hurtful, we default to greasy potato chips. If we’re stressed at school or work, those second helpings help us feel relaxed.

The Prescription

The Attitude Reconstruction diet prescription does involve physical exertion to help fix the problem, just not in the way we're used to. Emotions are just pure physical sensations, and if we express them physically when they arise or at our earliest convenience by crying out the sadness, pounding out the anger, and shivering out the fear with abandon, then we make conscious choices about what to eat, rather than automatically going to comfort foods.

Breaking a habit like binge eating is difficult. However, regardless of your addiction, whether it’s binge eating, beer drinking, porn viewing, or picking your fingernails, when the overpowering urge to say yes to your “comforting old friend” hits, there is an effective alternative. At those crucial choice points, instead of justifying why this time is an exception and denying the good intentions you affirmed just this morning, pause for just a second and ask yourself “Do I need to cry, pound, or shiver?”

Then do it! Emote. Take just literally a couple of minutes and express whichever emotion is most accessible because that’s what really is screaming for attention. If you release the pent-up emotion in a physical and constructive way at those crucial choice moments, you’ll be able to calm down and make a more conscious decision. Each victory will feel like gold.

Besides all the real and imagined injustices and violations, restricting food intake will bring up anger. So that means, find a healthy way and safe place, to pitch a fit. Stomp around, scream into a pillow, or pound the heck out of cardboard boxes, while just making sounds or reminding yourself: "I just am feeling angry. I need to move that energy out of my body."

If you feel hurt, empty, helpless, hopeless, inadequate, or blue, cry, but while the tears run down your cheeks, tell yourself: "I'm just feeling sad. I need to cry. It's okay."

When you feel the impulse to wolf down something you know is problematic, shiver, quiver, tremble and shudder all throughout your body for a minute or two. When feeling anxious and releasing your anger, remember to accompany your physical movements with only nonverbal sounds (eek, brrrr, uh!) or reminding yourself: "I'm just feeling fear. It's okay. I just have to move the energy out of my body."

So, say you’re feeling bored, frustrated, lonely, or overwhelmed by the day, the call, or the circumstance. Instead of stopping by the store for that quart of ice cream, first express your sadness, anger, or fear! Just a bit of full-tilt shivering, crying, or stomping, will release the energy that is behind the desire to binge and escape what you are feeling. It's like letting steam out of a pressure cooker.

Just try it once, with vigor, and when you are done, savor your victory. Now you’ll be able to make a more rational and healthy choice about whether you are going to eat that box of cookies. Acknowledge each victory. Savor its taste.

Preplanning to break your old way of coping

To overcome an addiction, preplanning is essential. Start by getting clear on your goal, write it down, and remind yourself of it often throughout each day, such as “I want to feel good about myself. I want to make a change.” Having a clear and precise idea of your goal will keep you oriented and motivated. Shout your goal when you're at one of those choice points!

Also figure out what you can do instead after you emote… pick something that’s easy to do, constructive, and rewarding. Walking out of the vicinity is good. Take a modest portion and throw the rest away. Eat some fruit. Sit down, take a few deep breaths, eat slowly, and chew thoroughly.

Be forewarned! You’ll have ample opportunity to make a new choice again in the near future when the next impulse and emotion arises. Maybe five minutes later, maybe an hour or the next day. Repeatedly let those emotions out, several times a day at first, and you’ll break the cycle. You’ll be on top of the world. You’ll realize that food is not going to fill you up.

And when you make a choice for the old, don’t beat yourself up. That won’t help. Be gentle with yourself. Shiver and start again now.

©2021 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Book by this Author

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life

by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

book cover: Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life  by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.What if someone told you that you could discover the source of all your problems and address them head-on? How about if they told you that reconstructing your attitude would actually change your life?

Author Jude Bijou combines contemporary psychology and ancient spiritual wisdom to provide a revolutionary theory of human behavior that will help you do just that.

With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.

For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author

photo of: Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT)

Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.

In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/ 
  

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