Tag Archives: self-esteem

Eating Out of Loneliness and Low Self-Esteem

From the moment you are born, being fed is strongly associated with comfort and love. For infants, food and hugs go together, and that emotional imprinting stays with you for life. Cooking for someone is a way to show love. A box of chocolates is a traditional gift of love on Valentine’s Day. So it’s no surprise that loneliness is one of the most common triggers for emotional eating. Food is an emotional surrogate for love.

Everybody feels passing loneliness now and then, but that’s not the kind of loneliness that people eat over. The kind of loneliness that you eat over is the aching kind that feels never-ending, and grows out of another problem that needs solving. Sometimes loneliness is situational – for example, moving to a new place. But if you’ve had plenty of time to develop social contacts and you’re still lonely, you’re "chronically lonely". That’s the hardest type of all, and the subject of this article.

Why do chronically lonely people often feel lonely even when they’re with other people? Why do they often resist spending time with others? Why do they often find it so unbearable to be home alone in the evening? And what is the solution?

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Decision to Stop Dieting: Jumping Off That Cliff

For an emotional eater, giving up dieting can be terrifying. Suddenly there are no rules. You’re responsible for your own food choices, and you’re not sure you can be trusted. You may have struggled for years with lack of control around food. You may fear that Normal Eating can’t work for you, that you don’t have the ability to choose well. You may feel that the only possible way to control what you eat is through the external strictures of a diet.

The culture at large reinforces this fear. If you tell someone you’ve decided not to diet anymore, you’re likely to be told what a dangerous mistake you’re making, how natural appetites have no natural limits, and the only way to lose excess weight is through a diet. You’ve probably been told every day of your life that you’re not competent to choose your own food.

But it’s not true! Natural limits are part of our natural instincts. You just lose touch with your natural, internal controls when you become used to looking outside yourself for guidance. As you reconnect with yourself and learn to meet your needs in authentic ways, compulsion melts away and you are able to eat normally.

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Stopping When Full

There are many reasons that people continue eating after they are no longer hungry. Here’s the short list:

  • You don’t recognize satiation cues. You don’t recognize that you’re no longer hungry until you are past full.
  • It bothers you to leave food on your plate. The reasons for this can run deep, as you’ll soon see.
  • The food tastes good and you want to continue experiencing that. But what aren’t you paying attention to?
  • You are in the grip of compulsion. You don’t want it, it doesn’t taste good, but you can’t stop.

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Magazines Induce Summer Fat Panic

In case there’s any confusion about the source of the idea: “You can and must look like Miss California”, check out this article. It’s a great analysis of a piece by the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health introducing the May issue. We’re so used to hearing these crazy messages, we don’t even notice how crazy they are anymore. This is worth reading.

What Do I Wear? I Feel So Fat!

The December holiday season is a time of special foods, and lots of them. Every year there is discussion in the media about how not to gain weight when tempted by all these treats. I discussed the issue of handling holiday feasts in the November newsletter, so in this newsletter I’ll focus on the other side of the problem – obsession with body size, weight, and appearance. One way the Normal Eating approach is different from other non-diet approaches is that it identifies the obsession itself – the desperate desire to be thin – as a primary symptom and underlying cause of disordered eating and misery around food.

The topic of weight obsession is especially relevant now because this holiday – more than any other – involves contact with people. It’s a December tradition to send out hundreds of holiday cards to renew connections. It’s also a time of numerous parties and get-togethers, both personal and at work. The December holiday season may be the only time of year that you see the CEO of your company, or meet your colleagues’ spouses. Parties given by friends are also occasions for meeting new people and renewing acquaintances.

All this "face time" can kick up great anxiety about your appearance – especially if you weigh more than you did the last time you saw certain people. This newsletter will address the "What do I wear – I feel so fat!" problem, but not in the way you might expect. I’m not about to give you fashion tips! I will take a very different approach in helping you to deal with these issues.

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