Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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This is Driving Your Emotional Eating, No Doubt About it

Jul 02, 2014 - 1 comments

emotional eating


weight control

Emotional eating is the single biggest cause of obesity. And doubt is one of the primary emotions driving that.

When doubt arises in you, you feel a sense of powerlessness. It's an awful feeling, a sense that this problem is far bigger than you, and so naturally you do the one thing that brings you relief from the doubt-monster...

You eat.

So, what is this doubt exactly? In a nutshell, it's doubt about your own self-worth.

What You Doubt About Yourself

Over the last three-decades I've come across some very specific examples of self-doubt with patients. Perhaps you can identify with some of these:

Doubt about whether...

    You are good enough.

    You are fake or not.

    You love enough.

    You are smart enough.

    You are pretty enough.

    You are perfect or talented or ambitious enough.

    You are kind enough.

    You are too jealous or competitive.

    You are a good enough daughter or sister.

The essence of doubt comes from you measuring and comparing yourself to some standard. Something you've come to view as an appropriate benchmark. Half of this doubt turns out to actually be good (it doesn't make you eat); the other, not so good.

Good Doubt

Good doubt uses a standard that's based in reality. It keeps you striving in a positive and healthy manner. e.g. "Have I put in enough preparation for my upcoming test?" or "Perhaps I could've spent more time listening to my husband last night" or "I may not have performed at my best at work yesterday."

Good doubt signals us to put in more effort so that we might become better at something worthwhile. It also allows for natural lapses and failings, timeouts for leisure and fun, and is an essential part of ongoing intelligent decision making.

Bad Doubt

Bad doubt uses a standard that's based completely in your mind. A part that's disconnected from the processes of daily life. Perfectionism is an excellent example. The reality is that it's impossible for a human being to be perfect, and therefore an impossible standard to meet. You're beaten before you even start.

Ironically, the tendency is that, once you've established deep self-doubt based on something like perfectionism, you tend to grow and nurture it everyday by continuing to strive for it. For example...

I once treated a woman who'd been repeatedly told she was stupid by her father. She was telling me about how she became an accountant and how that proved to her that she was really stupid. She took night-school classes and graduated top of her class despite the fact that she was 40, raising a child, working full-time and English was her second language.

When I asked her how this was evidence that she was stupid, she said, "I'm hard of hearing, so I had to sit in the front row, but didn't hear everything, so I may have missed things."

Naturally, I was stunned; she overcame yet another hardship, demonstrating her considerable natural intelligence, only to turn it into evidence to support the "stupid" label her father had given her 35-years earlier.

Her deep self-doubt was simply this: If I'm not perfect, then I must be stupid.

Your Choice

When you engage in emotional eating to find relief from self-doubt, you simply create another layer of self-doubt to add to your pile: You now doubt your willpower to ever control your weight.

And, unfortunately, this will continue until the day you decide to find relief in a new and healthy way.

That new and healthy way is something we work hard on in the Shrink Yourself Program. It's a way that doesn't involve striving for impossible standards. And it's a way that promotes loving yourself, bit by bit, more and more each day to keep the self-doubt monster at bay.

As always, the choice, and therefore the power, lies completely in your hands.

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by Stewman, Jul 04, 2014
This is a very insightful article, mostly directed at women, but I am a male that struggles with emotional eating and and only due to my genetics do I not get obese, however I identify with the piling on effect that the eating has on my self doubt, constantly feeling I am not doing all the things I should be doing to improve myself.  I think I picked this behavior up from my mom, but now find myself trying teach the principles of self acceptance and choice of perspective to my 18 year old son who has struggles with addiction.  Understanding the painful effects of your past and literally talking down that beast inside that wants you to use, or eat, or whatever by recognizing that voice, and dealing with it as you would a child or a friend who is thinking irrationally.  It can be a painful path, and a struggle to change your habits of reward mentality (I deserve this because I feel like crap) but the real reward is feeling strong and self reliant and knowing when you are faced with that nagging voice that wants you to eat to feel better, that is a chemical reaction in your body to avoid pain.  You can be the adult in the room (your mind) and tell that voice out loud, that we don't want to do this anymore, that it only makes things worse and causes you pain and so you are compassionately caring for self that feels less than.  It's not easy, feels strange at first but truly works.  You are in charge, don't expect, just accept.  Tell the voice what you would've wanted to hear, then act on it.  Motivation is just a constant act of will...

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