Emotional Eating

2013 Change

Here we are again….deciding what new things we want to accomplish, and a lot of times the things we want to accomplish have to do with our diet.

One of the ideas I want to encourage you to do is to change how you look at the word “DIET” – start to think of it as not something you go on and off, but as a lifestyle change. And commit to figuring out how to change your current ‘diet’ to a healthier eating lifestyle, so there’s no more thinking of “…..I blew it, I’ll start over tomorrow….” STOP THAT THINKING.  It doesn’t work – never has, never will.

Change is hard. And it’s easy to get discourage when you try and don’t get the results you were hoping for. But the reality is that just making the effort is, in fact, progress.

Change is not an event with an exact start and stop point: it’s a process.

Each step you  make, even if it’s a relatively small step such as making the resolution to change, is still a step in the right direction, bringing you closer to your ultimate goal.

It’s also important to recognize that even if you take a few steps back, it’s not the end of the world. If viewed and used correctly, the missteps can serve as learning opportunities, helping you become better prepared for the next log of the trip!

So here’s to CHANGE and hoping you will have a new year full of new thinking for a healthier YOU.



I Want It – But It’s Not That Easy!

So true at times….from the top to the bottom!

Do You Have an Addiction to Food? 5 Food Addiction Symptoms

I have always enjoyed SHAPE magazine and recently found this on-line. The article is written by Jennipher Walters and describes what symptoms to look for if you’re wondering if you could be addicted to food/eating!!

I often say that in college I was addicted to Pop Tarts. In graduate school, it was candy corn. These days, thankfully, I’m more drawn to more nutritious foods, but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard others say that they’re addicted to chocolate, or chips or fast food. While we usually all say these things in jest, the more research that is done on the brain’s reaction to some foods, the more food addiction isn’t just a joke — it’s a reality.

The latest study to come out Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that a chocolate milkshake may affect the brain in the same way that cocaine might. Cocaine! Researchers are finding that high-sugarand high-fat foods, in a way, hijack the brain into not just craving but needing certain kinds of food. So how do you know if you are truly addicted to food? Or if you just really like and crave something? Below are five symptoms that may indicate an addiction to food.

5 Food Addiction Symptoms

1. Food is all you think about. If thinking about eating — or worrying about what you just ate — is getting in the way of your ability to go to work, be social or be a good family member, you may have a problem.

2. You want to stop — but you can’t. If you feel like your love of food is out of control or if you want to stop eating so much but can’t stop, it may be a sign that you need professional help.

3. You eat in secret or lie about what you’ve eaten. One characteristic of most people who are addicted to food is that they hide their eating behaviors or lie about what they’ve consumed. Feelings of guilt and shame when it comes to eating is another sign of disordered eating.

4. You eat beyond the point of fullness. Eating too much on Thanksgiving or your birthday is one thing, but regularly binging is another. If you regularly eat so much that you feel sick or can’t stop eating even though you’re full, you might be addicted to food. If you use laxatives or purge after binging, it’s especially important to seek professional help.

5. You are compelled to eat when you’re not hungry or are feeling low. While we all eat out of emotion every now and again, if you find yourself always going for high-fat and high-sugar foods when you’re lonely, bored, stressed, anxious or depressed, this can signal food addiction, as your body is using some of the chemicals in those foods to boost levels in the brain.

Jennipher Walters is a certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, and holds an MA in health journalism.

Is it Hunger or Just a Craving?

A French proverb says “A good meal ought to begin with hunger.”  Well, there is some truth to that.  Make sure you’re not experiencing a craving (which is just an intense desire for some particular thing) before you convince yourself it’s time to eat.

True hunger is the gnawing, growling feeling that happens in your stomach, an indicator letting you know you are truly h-u-n-g-r-y.  So make sure when you experience true hunger that you’re eating a good nutritional meal.

Dine Out and Lose Weight?

Training in mindful eating can help frequent restaurant-goers prevent weight gain, according to a recent study of 35 women who dined out an average of six times a week.

One group received weekly training on portions, hunger cues, and staying aware while eating; the other didn’t.  After six weeks, the women in the mindful group cut their daily intake of food by about 300 calories and lost 4 pounds, on average.  (information provided by Consumer Reports on Health, April 2012)

Just another reason why having a Diet Coach just might be so helpful!

Reducing Blood Sugar Spikes within Your Day

Day One

I ran across these 7 rules about how the power of food can naturally slow down the sugar absorption in our bodies (by Rob Thompson, MD in the March 2012 issue of Prevention) and I loved it.

I’m a counselor, not a dietician or nutritionist so I understand the ‘psychology’ of weight loss but sometimes even I need refresher-sessions on how and why the body does what it does, and how specific foods effect the system within.   I thought the information was so interesting and explained so well that I wanted to pass along the information. I will be posting one a day. Here’s Day One.

Rule Number One:  Have a fatty snack 10 to 30 minutes before your meal.
Reason: You remain fuller longer.
At the outlet of your stomach is a muscular ring, the pyloric valve. It regulates the speed at which food leaves your stomach and enters your small intestine. This valve is all that stands between the ziti in your stomach and a surge of glucose in your blood stream. But you can send your pyloric valve a message to slow down.

Fat triggers a reflex that constricts the valve and slows digestion. As little as a teaspoon of fat – easily provided by a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese — will do the trick, provided you eat it before your meal.

The psychology of obesity, depression, overeating linked

(I thought this was worth sharing…)

There’s a deep, dark hole in a bag of potato chips – one that seems to have no end for people like Joel Meriwether of Mt. Juliet.

It leads to a maelstrom where shame and isolation spin them back toward the food that keeps them obese and depressed. Nine years after gastric bypass surgery, Meriwether has gained back about 100 pounds of the 300 he lost.

“My issue is not caring enough about myself to have the willpower,” he said.

Scientists have discovered that depression and obesity feed on each other in a cycle that is difficult to break, no matter which comes first. Obese people have a 55 percent increased risk of developing depression, and depressed people have a 58 percent greater likelihood of becoming obese, according to an article published last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry. But obesity researchers do not fully understand the triggers in the mind that cause people to overeat.

“I think in general it’s a missing part of the puzzle,” said Dr. Kevin Niswender of Vanderbilt University.

Few mental health providers have expertise in weight counseling, he said. And drug makers have not been able to fashion a medicine for weight loss without adverse psychological effects, including depression.

Increasingly, the medical community is endorsing weight loss surgery for people with life-threatening levels of body fat and obesity-related diseases. But surgery does not always work. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass that Meriwether received, which studies have shown results in more weight loss than Lap-Band procedures, has long-term failure rate of more than 20 percent.


Meriwether went into the surgery in 2002 weighing 580 pounds and had lost 275 pounds a year and half later. He kept shedding until he had lost about 300.

But then he started gradually gaining.

“Over time as one goes through one’s life after they have had the surgery, the pouch will just naturally begin to extend,” he said. “It may be that one day you eat a little bit more and you will not realize it.”

Although he underwent counseling before and after his surgery, he still put on weight. Self-image issues are at the root of his problem, he said. Meriwether now weighs 400 pounds.

“There is shame. Shame is an extremely powerful motivator,” he said. “There is fear of change. There’s that fear of changing who you thought you were.”

And there’s the sense of being alone.

“I’ve never really had a full-time romantic relationship,” he said. “It can be very difficult because society seems like it is based on couples rather than singles. It can be very, very difficult. Thank goodness I have a huge circle of very close friends.”

He’s maintaining – not gaining – by closely watching what he eats, avoiding white-flour carbohydrates and limiting his intake of dairy products and sugar. This summer he has kept the weight off by traveling, which forces him to walk more.

But the extra pounds prevent him from strenuous exercise. The 45-year-old man has developed arthritis in his knees.


Meriwether won’t go to a YMCA to exercise in a pool, where the water would cushion the impact on his knees, because he doesn’t want people to see him in a swimsuit. On Tuesday, he could go without worrying about people staring. That’s when the Green Hills YMCA will start a Restore Ministries program for people with body image issues.

A group of 10 people will go into a room behind a closed door on that day and start meeting every Tuesday for eight weeks.

“We’ve actually had some groups where we’ve had people who struggled with obesity and people who struggled with anorexia,” said Charity Mulhern, a field specialist with Restore Ministries. “What it all boils down to is underneath they look very similar.”

The participants talk about their struggles and give one another encouragement. By the end of the course, those who complete the program are exercising with everyone else.


Unraveling the circuitry within the brain that causes different people to respond to food in different ways could some day lead to better medicines to treat obesity.

“Those parts of the brain that regulate feeding behaviors and appetite are also important to mood – the same neurochemicals, the same receptors, the same neurotransmitter systems,” Niswender said. “The problem with a lot of the weight loss drugs is they have been causing mood problems: depression.”

But so is the food. Comfort food lulls people into the depression-obesity cycle when they try to eat through problems, worries and insecurities. The same chemical reaction from the food that calms has another effect.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Niswender said. “Whatever somebody’s stress food might be, we know that insulin and insulin resistance are part of depression. What does a potato do? It invokes profound insulin secretion.”

Meriwether’s problem is more pizza than potatoes.

“One of my downfalls was pizza,” he said. “I used to say pizza was the perfect food group because it had dairy, it had vegetable, it had protein and it had bread. Now, I don’t eat pizza at all because I can’t handle it.”

He plans to have a revision of the surgery from nine years ago, but so far he hasn’t convinced his insurer to cover the cost.

“What I have been told is that the gastric pocket that was created was not as strong as the ones they do now,” Meriwether said. “I was able to gradually add weight after that surgery because the pocket grew. It grew through natural extension like one’s stomach does originally.”

Next time around, he hopes to do a better job of keeping the weight off..

“You’ve got to really be ready for the consequences of having the surgery, psychologically, because if you’re not ready you’re not going to be successful,” Meriwether said. “One needs to combat the entire issue of shame and fear and realize that on the opposite side of that surgery you are going to have to deal with the same issues that you did before the surgery.”

Written by Tom Wilemon
The Tenessean August 18, 2011

Dealing with Depression and Weight Gain

What happens first – you gain weight and then feel depressed? Or, you’re depressed and gain weight because of it?  It’s a good question and one that frustrates a lot of people.

This can be a tough time of year for many people. The long, cold, winter days can linger and emotionally the mundane moments can really take a toll on your thinking and your physical being. You feel different, you act different, you move different – it’s like working your way through sludge.

If you experience depression, or know of someone who struggles with it, the ‘heaviness’ can really crush your spirit, and the physical symptoms from carrying more weight, start to affect you. It gets hard to redirect yourself without support, education, and in some cases – medication.  

So I wanted to share the following information with you. There is some interesting insight on the connection between weight gain and depression in this article and I think many of you will find it helpful!

Is Depression Wrecking Your Weight?

They are both heavy burdens – weight problems and depression, And they often go hand in hand.

Some people gain weight when they’re depressed. Others lose weight, to an unhealthy degree.

Which comes first? And how can you untangle the link between depression and weight – especially if depression has sapped you of your energy to makes changes? Here’s what experts say you need to know.

Depression and Weight Gain

A March 2010 review of 15 studies, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, linked obesity to a greater risk of developing depression – and vice versa.

But do people gain weight because they are depressed? Or do they become depressed because of the excess pounds they are carry” No one knows.

“It’s a chicken and the egg phenomenon,” says psychologist Leslie Heinberg, PhD, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “But we do know that depression has lots of symptoms that can worsen obesity – appetite disturbances, lack of energy, lack of motivation to do things.”

In 2009, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham reported that depressed people tend to gain weight faster than people who aren’t depressed.

The bulk of those extra pounds was concentrated around their waists. That’s not good. Belly fat is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Depression, of course, comes with its own set of risk factors, including suicide, social isolation, drug and alcohol addiction, and anxiety.

Whichever comes first – depression or overweight/obesity – it is a very unhealthy combination. Often, it is a self-reinforcing combo as well.

Eating Yourself Blue

“Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content, make you feel better, if only briefly,” says psychiatrist James Gordon, MD, author of  Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression. 

“That good feeling makes you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad about yourself,” Gordon says. “That leads to deeper depression, and more eating, and greater amounts of weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Getting out of that cycle can be a real challenge.

“When you are depressed, it is much harder to get out of bed, much less pay attention to what you are eating,” says Edward Abramson, PdD, an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University at Chico and the author of Emotional Eating: What You Need To Know Before Starting Another Diet.

For doctors, it’s less important to know which came first: the patient’s depression or with weight problems. The question is, which one should get the most initial attention?

“If someone comes to me who is severely depressed and overweight, the depression is going to be the primary focus,” says Abramson.

However, he continues, an eating disorder that causes a patient to binge might need to be addressed first: “If their eating is out of control, that becomes the primary focus.”

Although weight gain is commonly associated with depression, weight loss can also be a problem.

“With severe depression, you might lose weight because you’ve lost your interest in food, which comes from losing in interest in pleasure.” Gordon says. Loss of pleasure is a hallmark of depression,

Depression may also accompany an eating disorder. In Heinberg’s practice at the Cleveland Clinic, patients with anorexia nervosa are often depressed.

“In patients with low body weight, the brain becomes starved and they develop symptoms that meet the criteria for depression,” she says.  “Often, once you feed them, the depression goes away. It’s resolved, and it’s generally resolved quickly.”

If You Move, You Lose – Pounds and Depression

Treating depression often takes a multipronged approach that may include talk therapy and medication, as well as exercise, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle measures.

It’s important to know that weight gain is a common side effect of some of many prescribed antidepressants.

Fortunately, patients who are both overweight and depressed can help themselves with the same prescription: exercise, which can help counterbalance drug-related weight gain.

“I won’t necessarily tell them to watch what they are eating at first,” says Abramson, “but I will work with them to get them to move.”

At the beginning of therapy, that usually means walking. Abramson recommends picking up a pedometer before hitting the sidewalk. By measuring the number of steps they take each time they walk, they can monitor their progress. And, says Abramson, “small victories equal positive thoughts.”

Heinberg often prescribes walking as well. She likes to focus on her patients’ depression for the first six to eight weeks of therapy, introducing low-key exercise only to keep weight steady rather than bring it down. Once the depression is under control, she says, it becomes easier to address weight problems.

Be Active, Make Choices Feel Better

Exercise is a key part of treating overweight and depression, in part because it allows patients to play an active role in caring for themselves. In fact, Gordon maintains that exercise is the best prescription for treating mild to moderate depression, as well as being helpful for severe depression.

“People feel good about doing things for themselves – that, in itself, is therapeutic,” Gordon says.

Gordon also recommends taking a break from fast food and other unhealthy eating habits: instead, he says, make time to cook a meal for yourself.

“It goes beyond just preparing something healthier to eat than fast food,” says Gordon. “People get engage in their own care, and that’ crucial to dealing with weight.”

Gordon, who is the founder and director of the Center for Mindy Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., includes alternative and complementary treatments in his practice. Key among them is meditation.

“You have to become aware of what and how you eat, through mindfulness,” says Gordon. “Very often, if you are anxious, you are going to eat more. But if you are in a state of relaxation, you won’t be eating frantically or mindlessly.”

by Matt McMillen
article WebMD


Emotional Eating


Eating Choices and Healthy Decisions This Week

Have you caught yourself making healthier choices or decisions this week?

You seem to point out all the things you do wrong to yourself all the time.  How about flipping the script in your head and make a decision to start counting all the things you did right – or good – for yourself this week and keep building on that success.