emotional eating

Before you start screaming at me, hear me out.

What if what we think and call emotional eating is not based on some emotional root issue but rather a symptom of how our metabolism and our hormonal health are functioning?

 Here’s my experience, having worked with thousands of people through different levels of my programs over the last 15 years.

 More often than not, when someone believes they are an emotional eater, they don’t just suggest it; they claim it as part of them. They refer to themselves as emotional eaters, and they tell me they have been this way for decades. They are convinced the root goes back to their childhood or trauma or some sort of emotional-sounding original cause.

 I’ve sat with people who practically have a T-shirt that says,  “I’m an emotional eater and proud of it.”  They carry an official membership card in their pocket or purse, and they do not doubt that whatever emotion they choose or have chosen over the years to be the culprit is the root of all their eating issues and weight problems.

 Now fast-forward about eight weeks into my program, where I speak to them again and bring up some of those past issues they had memorized and crystallized in their story on day one. I use the same story and words as I ask them about this issue in their life today.

 You would think if this was a genuine emotional issue that, over eight weeks, without having addressed any emotional problems, seeing a counselor, or even trying to work on any issues, would still be as strong as ever. Intuitively that makes sense, does it not? I thought it did.

 What comes next is the absolute exact opposite scenario.  It surprises me every single time, even to this day. 

 As I read or recite the same language and issue they told me eight weeks ago, their response is as if they don’t even remember these words, problems, or the concept. When I asked about the sensations and the feelings they have when this decade-long struggle strikes, they barely seem to recognize the idea and say, “oh no, I haven’t had that,” or ”not so much,” or “not at all.” 

I used to ask again and repeated the words differently, trying to elicit something that resembled that first day unsuccessfully.

 Over time I learned to watch this pattern of behavior and this distinct language as it slowly starts to fade and disappear from their consciousness and food behaviors.

 I don’t address these emotional issues with them; they don’t seek professional help, nor do they even have it on the radar to focus on during the program. It’s simply not there anymore. That emotional energy, charge, or impulse has gone away or faded to something very different.

This complete 180 occurs rather quickly for some people, and as it does, it becomes clear that as their body starts to heal and improve their metabolic health, the emotional part of what we thought was emotional eating starts to get better too.

 This leads me to believe that the emotional state we call emotional eating and connect to our eating behavior and weight gain is a symptom of something else. When the hormones of the metabolism are not playing nice together, the result is emotional distress around food and how they eat or approach it.

I’m writing a new book on the subject, and I will post excerpts from it over the next month or so. A follow-up to this one with a detailed explanation of how I think this works and why will be up tomorrow. Please stay tuned.

This is good news!

We can do better!

Dr. Don