People Don’t Lose Weight On Diets Of Emotional Deprivation

Margarita FolkPosted by
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We have finite energy stores to manage our lives. If we spend an inordinate amount of time planning our meals, cooking, eating and sadly, recovering from episodes of over indulgence, we may not have enough energy left for other matters of importance. Over dependence on one form of nutrients does not adequately compensate for others. Self-deprivations increase our appetites for more readily available substitutes. Too much of one good thing never satisfies unfulfilled appetites for others. This is the anatomy of disordered eating

Satisfactions that require patience, frustration tolerance, self- discipline, and emotional courage may become habitually forsaken for the easy fix. One legal easy fix that we can’t live without is food. The dangers in taking such an easy way out are as follows: 1) We train our minds to deceive us and confuse emotional hunger for physical hunger. 2) The more frequently we take the easy way out the more our emotional muscles atrophy. What we don’t use and develop, we lose. We lose our willingness and abilities to persevere and learn new and more adaptive behaviors. A negative spiral of chronic unhappiness with ourselves leads to depression which reinforces self-defeating patterns of eating. What may have started as a cure-all for all that ailed us becomes a larger and larger problem especially when it becomes a symptom of depression.

Psychotherapy can be a powerful antidote to abusive eating. First, a competent therapist is trained to read between the patient’s verbal lines, and put non verbal communications into words. We help patients decipher and tease out physical hunger from myriad forms of emotional hunger for concern, admiration, validation, comfort, encouragement, etc.. Patients learn to accept, normalize and develop strategies for meeting needs which previously shrouded in darkness, fueled unending hunger for food. Second, a caring therapist by meeting needs affirms the patient as a deserving recipient. These transactions reduce anxieties over efforts to meet such needs outside the office. Third, the consistent and predictable reliability, concern, comfort and acceptance of the therapist gets internalized by the patient. Identifications with the therapist will translate to higher levels of self-efficacy and self-care which neutralize patterns of self-abusive eating that previously reinforced messages of low self worth.

I’m reminded of a young man I’ll call Jim I worked with years ago who obsessed about food and controlling his dependence on food. He presented with social anxieties as he was fearful of losing control of desperate urges to merge with and be cared for by others. These wishes were mingled with fears that in doing so, he would be exploited and hurt. To avoid reacting to impulses to dive into a relationship should he catch the eye of some attractive woman, Jim developed the following strategy to protect him from himself. This lonely young man attended mixers after work on an empty stomach. He rationalized not eating to save money. Jim’s fears of being rejected as too needy and too immature to meet a woman’s needs, left him painfully self-conscious. Often, Jim withdrew into a preoccupation with the irritability, impatience, and fatigue borne of hunger. Fantasies about returning to his empty apartment, relaxing and cooking his favorite meal won favor over starting a conversation with anyone. As predictable as the dawning day, Jim would leave these functions after 30 minutes or so. Any pangs of regret were as short lived as the flash of an expiring light bulb. Psychotherapy changed his life by changing his relationship to eating. Jim used to live to eat, and now he eats to live well. Maybe, his inspiring story may inspire you to write your own inspiring story of recovery.

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Source by Mitchell H. Milch